There are few things worse than realizing that you have lost your only set of car keys, especially if they also had a keyfob.
Getting your key replaced in a fully working manner can be stressful, and with the complex nature of modern keys, it can also be expensive.
The cost of replacing a car key typically costs between, $30 to $120, which covers the cost of cutting and programming the key to your car. Cars with central locking and coded keys are more expensive, with new keys costing $100 upward of $1000. The key type and car model affect the price of replacement keys.
Knowing your options when replacing car keys and the difference between dealerships, locksmiths, and third-party key providers will ensure a stress-free experience.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to get your keys copied without any challenges and what you can expect.
What Does It Cost To Get A Key Made Without The Original?
If you require an original key from a dealership, it can usually cost around $500 to $1000 to replace and reprogram the key. Many manufacturers insist that the car be towed to the nearest dealership to ensure that they do everything safely, especially within the warranty period.
The price of your key will change drastically depending on the country you are in, with many dealerships running special offers for the service. If you have a spare key for your vehicle at home, it may be worth using that and getting it cloned at specialists instead of buying a dealership key.
Some dealerships apply an upcharge to program a new key for the car while still using third-party suppliers. This usually happens when you live in areas where key and lock specialists are situated and dealerships cannot compete actively.
Now that we know the basics, we can take a closer look at each type of key you may need to program and buy. New keys are significantly cheaper for older cars, while many modern cars require specialized systems to unlock without setting off alarms and disrupting safety systems.
Find out what your options are when it comes to replacing your lost or broken car key. Knowing what a new car key will cost is important, allowing you to balance the best price and quality. Cars keys are divided into three general categories:
Basic Non-Electronic Car Keys
Many basic models and older cars, especially work trucks, have a regular key to start the vehicle, with no other security systems. Many local key makers can help you with these car keys and will be able to cut a new one, with specific car codes allowing them to make a copy without the actual car key in hand.
Often car makers provide codes on the locks themselves that allow key makers to know exactly where to cut and how to shape the key. Professional key makers can pick the lock to learn exactly how to cut the new key, allowing entry without too many issues.
Modern Car Key Fobs
The electronic key fob is more popular in newer model cars, which has buttons to lock and unlock the vehicle and the ignition key pops out when starting the car. This is the key you will likely be using for your vehicle, as key fobs have become the standard for safety systems on modern cars.
These types of keys require precision cutting as they are programmed to work with the computer inside the car. Key makers have specialized programs that can code these key fobs, usually increasing the price to $100 or more, which may set you back more than you planned.
You can also buy and program many key fobs yourself. Consider checking out my list of instructions on programming key fobs covering most of the major car brands.
Some of the most modern and technologically advanced cars allow you to keep the key in your pocket, get in the car, and press the gas pedal to drive. These are called keyless cars; everything from the doors' locks to the engine itself works on an electronic system.
A keyless car key can cost anywhere from $400 and more, usually with several manufacturer-specific coding required to program the key. Some car manufacturers like Tesla do not allow third-party locksmiths to make car keys, increasing the price for their keys to upwards of $1500.
Can A Locksmith Make A New Car Key Without Needing The Original?
Most locksmiths can easily pick your car's locks and then remove the ignition; once this has been done, they can make a new key. This is done by researching the key and connecting it to a program from the manufacturer that shows the right key shape.
Usually, an experienced locksmith will easily be capable of doing this and helping you have a key within minutes of arriving on the scene. Call a mobile locksmith before calling anyone else to see what they will charge you. Pop-a-Lock is a good service to try.
As technology has allowed locksmiths to make smaller and smaller adjustments, they can now program keys for keyless cars. However, this process will cost more than just a standard key and may take a bit longer as they may have to order a custom key fob from the manufacturer.
How Do Locksmiths Make Car Keys Without Original Keys?
Now that you know whether or not a locksmith can help you, we need to look at how they will assist you in making a car key. One of the things that people are always surprised by is how fast a locksmith is capable of making a new key for their car.
There are several ways that locksmiths are capable of making a quick and easy copy of your car key without needing the original. We have some of the most well-known ways they create these custom hardware pieces within minutes, usually only requiring a little work.
Codes On The Car
This is the first thing that any locksmith will look for once they start trying to open your car to make a new key for it. There are specific codes on the ignition systems of every vehicle that are unique to the car and the ignition systems.
Locksmiths can access a central database to see what the key should look like and how to program the new key fob. This is one of the reasons that you will have to pay a premium for a locksmith, as their knowledge and access to these systems cost money and are strictly controlled.
Testing The Locks on The Car
If your car is too old or the locksmith cannot find the right sets of codes for your vehicle, they can use lockpicks to learn what the key should look like. This is a set of fine skills that many regular locksmiths may not have but has become an everyday skill for car locksmiths.
The technique of picking a lock and then using the right tools to learn what is happening inside the lock should never be underestimated. When you find yourself working with a locksmith capable of doing this, we recommend keeping their number close at all times.
Recoding Car Keys
The last thing that locksmiths do is record keys and cars to work together, usually on vehicles with safety systems and key fobs. By setting the car into a specific mode and using a blank set of fobs, the locksmith can program the car to work with your vehicle just the same as the original keys.
We always recommend you consider this when you call the locksmith, as many people are shocked when they see how easy it is. Most locksmiths can recode and start a car with a new key within a few minutes of having the doors unlocked using their lockpicks.
What To Do If You Misplace Your Car Key?
Losing your car keys is never a fun experience, and you could find yourself in a situation where few dealerships are willing to help fix the problem and replace the car key.
Often your dealership won't assist you at your car's location, instead requiring you to tow the vehicle to them. There are four steps to take when you realize that your car keys have gone missing:
Call Your Car Dealer
As dealerships may upcharge you for simply replacing a key and cutting a new one, you can rely on them to determine the price range. Many dealerships have the information about your insurance on hand if you have bought the vehicle from that dealership and know what price they can safely charge for an insurance replacement.
However, very few dealerships will have a service that goes out to your vehicle's location to program a new key. You might have to arrange transportation for your vehicle to the dealership out of your own pocket and pay for the replacement key. Your insurance company will refund the costs to you once you produce the receipts.
Search For Remote Assist
This is the best way to get a car key quickly and at a reasonable cost. As car key technology has changed, locksmiths have learned how to assist vehicle owners. You can call a local locksmith to open the car for you and then program a new key for your vehicle for only a few hundred dollars.
Many insurance companies have locksmiths on call to assist with new car keys. This means you can avoid paying anything at all while having a new car key made by a professional trusted by your insurer.
Call Auto Assistance Services
Many countries and areas will have AA that you can call for assistance, and if you are part of automotive clubs, you can also call them for help. Often people forget there is always someone they can call to assist them with most car problems.
Callout fees differ according to the location and situation you are in. Some companies offer lost key recovery services as part of the services provided by the monthly warranty and servicing costs that you are paying.
Don't Force Car Doors Open Without Professional Help
While you are waiting for help, do not try and force the car doors open. Breaking windows, using wire hangers, or using force will create red flags with insurance companies, and many locksmiths are not allowed to work on damaged cars.
You will be required to produce evidence that the car is yours when the locksmith arrives, with many refusing to open the door if they see it was forced or tampered with. Many insurance companies insist on towing cars to a dealership or a preferred mechanic to ensure the vehicle is not stolen.
Why Are Replacement Car Keys So Expensive?
Depending on the car and the manufacturer, the keys are usually expensive because of the overall cost of tools to create the keys. A simple and unprogrammed car key is generally quite affordable.
However, cutting a car key to the exact dimensions and programming the key fob to work properly requires expensive tools and programs. Most skilled locksmiths have to undergo a few years of training to learn the necessary skills, which means that the skill is quite rare.
The biggest shock many people find is that the dealerships usually call on third-party locksmiths to cut and program the car keys. This means you are paying for a service you could have requested directly from the locksmith themselves without having to tow the car at the additional expense.
Are Lost Car Keys Covered By Insurance?
When you have misplaced your car keys, call your insurance company first. We have all heard horror stories of insurance companies refusing to help their clients when they seemingly need the help the most. Still, insurance companies have set clauses and procedures to follow and will assist if you have the necessary cover.
Three things will influence whether or not your insurance will pay for a new key to be made for your car.
Type Of Car Key
The type of car key you are replacing should be covered by the insurer and be stipulated in your policy. The type of car key will influence your monthly premium. Many people try to make their monthly insurance premiums as low as possible without realizing the consequences of their decisions.
If you do not inform your insurance company of the full key fob, they will only pay for replacing a standard car key when you claim. Ensure that your insurance company knows what car you are driving and its intricate details. If your insurer thinks you are driving a VW Golf, but you are actually driving a Tesla, the insurance cover is restricted to the vehicle on cover, in this case, the VW Golf, and will not pay for replacement car keys for the Tesla.
Cost Of Car Keys
Your insurance company will be aware of the total cost of the car key. When creating the cover and all the intricate details of which car you are driving, they will include the type of key you are using and provide you with the replacement costs.
When you need to get a new car key made, the insurer will inform the car dealers and the locksmith of the replacement cost. But, if you inform the insurer that the car key cost was $400 and the actual price was $350, they will only settle the $350.
Reason For Losing Your Car Keys
Perhaps the most important reason why an insurance company may not cover the costs of a replacement car key is your reason for losing the key in the first place. If you have lost a key because you decided to throw it away as a gesture, the insurer will be less likely to replace it.
However, almost every insurance company will cover the cost of replacing car keys if they were misplaced, accidentally wet, stolen, destroyed in a house fire, or any other mishap, as stated by the insurance company. Consider these factors when you take out an insurance policy, as many people remove things like fire cover from their policies, believing themselves fireproof.
Losing your car keys is never going to be an experience that is fun or enjoyable, and is bound to happen to most people at least once in their lives. Many people accidentally lock their car keys in the car, requiring locksmithing skills, which makes a few hundred dollars an easy price to pay for a quick solution to a frustrating problem.
Always keep your keys where you can find them, in the first place you look!