Concealing a spare key on your car can save you from frustrations when you’re locked out. There are several accessible places that are safe for you and your family but not obvious for thieves and vandals. However, there are right and wrong ways to hide your keys.
To hide your key on your car, you want a place where thieves won’t quickly think of, but also want a spot that’s not so hidden that you can’t remember it in an emergency. Some great spots include under your fender, behind your front license plate, inside the gas cap, or bolted under the car.
In this post, we’ll get into more detail concerning the dos and don’ts of hiding keys on your car. We’ll also caution against the worst places to hide your key. Let’s get right into it.
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Why Hide Your Key on Your Car?
There are many varied reasons why anyone would want to hide a key in their car. Some possible reasons include:
- You’re going swimming or surfing at the beach and don’t want to risk losing your key in the ocean.
- You regularly drive kids and pets around and don’t want to risk them locking themselves in.
- You, or someone close to you, often forgets and locks their keys inside the car.
- You share a car with someone who may forget to leave the key in the designated place. For instance, a spouse who takes the key with them even when they use the train to work.
- For your security. If you lose your keys, you might need quick access to your car.
- In case of accidents, such as your primary key breaking.
- Cost savings. In case you lose your primary key, the spare can save you the costs of accessing your car. Without a spare handy, you might have to break an expensive window or seek the costly services of a professional locksmith.
Why You Shouldn’t Hide Your Key on Your Car
If you’re not good at hiding things, then hiding your key on your car may not be the best idea. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the FBI estimates losses to an auto theft at over $6.4 billion yearly. From 2016 to 2018, approximately 229,339 cars were stolen because the thieves found the keys or fobs within the vehicle. That number works out to 209 cars being stolen each day because someone left a key where thieves found access.
Best Spots for Hiding Your Key on Your Car
Thieves know the most popular spots on the car where most people keep their spare keys. So you have to be creative to store your spare securely. Some spots to consider for hiding your key on your car include:
1. Behind Your Front License Plate
The front license plate is a great spot to hide a key in plain sight. Not many people hide their keys behind the front license plate, so it’s not as obvious as a hiding spot. Plus, a criminal would look creepy searching through your front license plate area.
The license plate is a strong magnetic source, so you can use a standard hide-a-key. You may also use a hiding container that attaches to your license plate and protects your key from weather conditions.
Though the front license plate is a neat and relatively safe spot to hide your keys on your car, you don’t want to put a key that will start your ignition there. Only put a key that opens your door.
2. Bolt Under the Car
This method takes some Do It Yourself (DIY) skills and tool handling.
- First, you will need a drill, a nut, a bolt, a wing nut, a lock washer, and the spare key.
- Next, go under your car and find an inconspicuous area underneath your car. Take care not to pierce through a fuel tank, floorboard, or other fluid tanks or brake lines. Find something under the car that looks like a plate.
- Drill a hole wide enough for the bolt to pass through the plate. Next, put the key on top of the hole and slide the bolt through the key and the hole. On the other side of the plate, put in your washer and secure it with the wing nut.
This method is cheap, requires no special skills, takes only about five minutes, and is very secure. It beats using magnets and it keeps your key out of sight even if someone happens to look below your car.
3. Under Your Fender
Car fenders are fantastic hiding places. First, they are designed to provide resistance against wind and road debris. Second, the fender’s inside can be hard to reach, so criminals could be easy to spot.
The downside is, the fender seems like such an obvious place to hide a spare key. So that’s almost always one of the first places a criminal will check. For your safety, try and hide the spare much deeper into the fender. Reach into a spot where someone would have to crawl deep under the car to retrieve the spare.
4. Inside the Gas Cap
The gas cap is too easily accessible and not the best place for long term hiding. However, if you’re leaving your car for only a few minutes, then the gas cap can be an ideal location.
For instance, if you’re going to play some beach volleyball and don’t want to risk losing your keys in the sand, then go ahead and keep the key in the gas cap. You can use some scotch tape to keep the key in place.
5. Inside Your Bumper
While a bumper is obvious and one of the first places a criminal may look, there are ways you can make the key difficult to find. You can use a hide-a-key magnetic box if your bumper is metallic.
For fiberglass and plastic bumpers, you can use a few strips of scotch tape to stick your door key inside the bumper. Just don’t include the ignition key, so if thieves find the door key, they can’t take off with the car.
6. Make Your Own Car Hero Key Box
You could buy a premade key box, but in most cases, the magnet won’t be strong enough to hold the key box in place. Use a carabiner with a strong magnetic base, typically strong enough to hold up a 20lb (9.1kg) weight.
- Pick a used container from your kitchen with a mouth wide enough to fit your key fob.
- Use a flat-head screwdriver to punch a hole into the container’s lid.
- Use a BBQ igniter (or even better, a propane blow-torch) to heat the tip of your screwdriver.
- Press the screwdriver around the hole to make a channel running perpendicular to the hole you created.
- Take your carabiner and remove the coupling link.
- Put the karabiner’s clip down into the container’s cap with the magnetic side looking up.
- On the inside, hook the coupling link.
- Clip your spare key to the carabiner hook and close the lid onto the container.
The key should be inside the container while the magnet is on top of the container. You now have a super strong and weather-resistant hero key box.
You could go a step further and paint your container over with some abrasion resistant spray paint. The paint camouflages your container and makes it impossible for anyone to spot the keys and fob inside. Find a hidden spot with a metallic surface to stick your key box. Pick a spot that is easily accessible but hidden out of view if someone looks under your car.
7. Use a Zip Tie
Find a pipe or line underneath your car. Slide your zip tie through your key and around the pipe. Tighten the zip tie, and you’re good to go.
The downside is you might need a box cutter or a penknife on you when you want to retrieve your spare key.
8. Use an RFID Bag for Combination Lock Cars
If your key uses Radio-frequency identification (RFID), as most cars nowadays do, then most other methods of hiding your keys can put your car at risk.
However, if your car has a combination lock, then you can put your fob inside an RFID bag and lock your key inside the car. Then you simply use a combination lock to open your door. If you don’t have an RFID bag, you can improvise by covering your key and fob in aluminum foil.
9. In the Wheel Rim
Your car wheels can offer some inconspicuous hiding places for your car keys. You can use zip ties or magnets to hold your key in place.
First, start by choosing which wheel to hide your keys. Then remove the wheel cap. Find a spot on the rim and either choose a magnet or zip tie. A zip tie offers a stronger and more flexible hold. So you can tie your key tight but still twist it, so it’s out of sight even if the wheel cap is removed.
10. Use a Vault
Using a security vault can be the most secure method of hiding your car on your car. The key can’t fall or fly off when you’re driving on rough terrain. Most of these vaults are made of super-strong high-carbon steel. The vaults are crash-proof and can be controlled using an app on your phone.
11. Use a Hitch Box
A hitch box is similar to a vault. It is basically a small safe fitted to the outside of the car.
Before you can fit a hitch box, you will need to attach a two-inch hitch to your car. You will obviously not be using a hitch at the same time because then there won’t be enough space for your key and fob.
A hitch box is in plain sight but is secure because not many thieves will take the time to try and figure out the combination.
The Worst Places to Hide Your Car Keys
Some spots on your car are simply not ideal for hiding your car key. Any place that’s too obvious for car hoppers and casual onlookers can be a terrible place to hide the key. Sections that experience lots of turbulence may also result in a quick loss of your spare key.
For example, using scotch tape to stick your car key to the exhaust pipe can be problematic. The tape will be affected by heat and will fall off within a short time. The car’s suspension is another terrible spot as the key and fob may interfere with your car’s suspension, especially if you drive over rough terrain.
Alternatives to Hiding Your Car Key on Your Car
If you feel hiding your car key in your car isn’t secure enough, you can consider other ways to have a spare handy. Some options are:
- Carry a spare in your wallet or purse. The problem with this is that if someone takes off with your wallet, they now have your car keys plus your money and identification documents, including your address.
- Leave your keys with a friend. The downside is your friend may be far away or not easily reachable during a crisis.
- Attach your key to a necklace. However, some keys and fobs may be heavy and uncomfortable to wear around your neck.
- Hide the keys near the parking lot. This works for those moments when you’re at a picnic or the beach. Find a nearby bush and leave something on top to mark the spot, so you don’t forget.
Make sure that the key you hide outside your car only opens the door but doesn’t work the ignition. In case someone finds your hidden key, it’s better that you don’t lose the car together with your other belongings.
Most of these hiding places are obvious for professional thieves, so you need to be a little creative to keep the key well-hidden and difficult to retrieve. Spraying with paint makes the key discreet and difficult to spot, and screwing in the key makes it more difficult to pry open.