Picture this; it is Monday morning and everything seems to be going on just fine. You woke up early, had your breakfast on time, and now you want to leave for work. But the moment you get to your car, a bitter truth hits you; you do not have your car key. You look everywhere but your search bears no fruit. So, what do you do? Do you contact a locksmith or visit your car dealership to get another car key?
While visiting the local dealership looks painless, getting a replacement car key here can be pricier than you think. That is because car dealers always charge a premium for this kind of service. Plus, did you know they may outsource the work to a locksmith? That leaves you with just one option; go to a locksmith. But, can a locksmith make a car key?
Well, let’s find out.
How Locksmiths Make Car Keys
The good news is skilled and experienced locksmiths can make car keys without a problem. In fact, they make them even without the original copy. There are some methods locksmiths rely on to come up with brand-new car keys. Well, the most popular one is called “scoping”.
Under scoping, a locksmith inserts a tiny specialized scope into the lock. Once inserted, the scope captures all the locking cylinders and grooves, thereby, making it easier for locksmiths to come up with new keys. The whole process is not as tedious as most people imagine.
You will, however, need to have some details about your car before the locksmith can get down to business. This makes the entire process of making a new car key extremely easy. Well, that brings us to the next section of this article, which is to gather information about your car.
Gather Your Car’s Information
You already know that going to a locksmith is more cost-effective than visiting a dealer. But before you contact one, make sure you have the following information with you:
• VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
• Make of your car
• Car registration
• Model of your car
What is a VIN Number?
If you are not familiar with VIN, this is a 17-character code, which is unique to your car. It is a combination of letters and numbers that offers important information about your car. This includes the model year, the type of your car, and where your car was made, among others. To get your car’s VIN, simply look at the driver’s side door near the handle or the driver’s side dashboard near the window.
Other areas you can find VIN are on the engine block, underneath the spare tire, bumpers, transmission, and car frame. You can also find VIN on your registration card, insurance card, or title.
It is highly advisable that you have the above information ready. That is because they help locksmiths quickly identify what type of key is suitable for your car.
Another thing you must note is that you have to prove you are the rightful owner of the car. Otherwise, the locksmith will not go on with the plans of creating a new car key.
How to Prove Ownership of a Car
In the U.S., vehicles are generally considered “titled property”. What this means is that if the title of your vehicle is in your name, you are the legal owner. Nevertheless, that does not mean you are in trouble in the absence of a title. You can still prove your ownership either by using other documents or applying for a bonded title.
You only apply for a bonded title if you do not have the necessary documents showing you are the legal owner of the vehicle. Ideally, to apply for a bonded title, you will have to complete an application and then pay a bond.
Know the Type of Car Key You Need
Car key types vary from one car to another. This is often due to the year your car was made. That being said, if your vehicle was made before 1981, chances are your car keys are not very advanced technologically. As such, you can get a car key replacement from a hardware store or a locksmith.
If the vehicle you own was manufactured after 1981, chances are it has more advanced technology. This means the locksmith will have to make a transponder key. Needless to say, visiting your dealer or an automotive locksmith is the best move for someone looking for a replacement key for a vehicle made after 1981.
Those with newer vehicles may need a totally different car key. A smart key for that matter. You should also consider a smart key replacement if your original car key was a key fob. Key fobs have to be close by for your car to start. They work by communicating with the ignition of your car. If you need a key fob replacement, you will have to visit your dealer or an automotive store near you. Once there, submit the necessary documents so a professional can begin programming your fob.
The Importance of Having a Locksmith Replace Your Car Key
First, we have to address the elephant in the room; the price. As mentioned earlier, having a locksmith replace your car key is more cost-effective than going to your car dealer or visiting an automotive store.
The second reason why you need to seek the services of a locksmith in the event that you lose your car key is that a locksmith can make a new car key, which works seamlessly with your specific vehicle.
What Locksmiths Charge for Car Key Replacement
The cost of having your car key replaced varies depending on the car key type. With that said, there are five common types of car keys. These include:
- Basic keys/key fobs
- Keyless entry remotes
- Transponder keys
- Switchable keys
- Laser-cut keys
1. Basic Keys/Key Fobs
Standard key fobs are often the least expensive to replace. But even then, the cost of replacing a standard key fob varies based on the manufacturer as well as the model of the vehicle. Well, if you are looking for a basic key replacement, expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $110.
2. Keyless Entry Remotes
Keyless entry remotes are the total opposite of standard key fobs as far as the price is concerned. In fact, they are normally the most expensive to replace, and with a good reason. You see keyless entry remotes have outstanding security features.
Their first and most important security feature is that they make it almost impossible for hackers to replicate the code and steal your car. That is because keyless entry remotes communicate with the vehicle’s computer to recognize the coded message that is transmitted by the key so the car can start.
The second security feature comes in the form of convenience. Needless to say, with keyless entry remotes, you can enter your car and start it without going through the hassle of having to take out your key from the bag or pocket.
It is worth noting that vehicles that use keyless entry remotes do not have a key ignition. Instead, they have a push-to-start feature. Replacing a keyless entry remote is costly, to be honest, and usually costs between $250 and $600, with luxury brands being the priciest. Be sure to also read our other article on programing a key fob and it’s costs as well.
3. Transponder Keys
Transponder keys are either basic keys or laser-cut keys with one distinction. They feature a built-in chip that communicates with the car. This means if the chip goes undetected, the car will not start even if the key is accurately copied.
Transponder keys started to become popular in the 90s. Today, lots of car owners use them. Despite being a little advanced, transponder keys can easily be replaced by locksmiths. This is crucial because if you have your transponder key replaced by a locksmith, then you are likely to pay 20% less than when you visit a dealer for the same.
Averagely, replacing or programming a transponder key costs between $150 and $225.
4. Switchable Keys
Switchable keys fold into the key fob but pop right back out with the click of a button. To replace them, you will have to pay a locksmith somewhere between $150 and $350. The price varies based on the make of your car.
5. Laser Cut Keys
As their name suggests, laser-cut keys are made using a laser, which edges them to create high-performance keys. Laser-cut keys are thicker than standard keys. Furthermore, they have a unique sideways carving.
Laser-cut keys also have a transponder chip, just like transponder keys. This means they are not really easy to replace, which, in turn, takes us to the price of replicating them. Since most locksmiths do not replace them, your best bet is to go to a dealership to help you out.
Normally, dealers charge between $150 and $300 for laser-cut key replacement.
There’s nothing poetic about losing your car keys. In fact, the whole thing can be frustrating, especially if you do not know whether you have lost them forever or simply misplaced them. But regardless of how frustrated you are, life must move on and you must enter your car.
So, if you do not have a spare, visiting a locksmith is the perfect move, why? First, replacing your car keys at a locksmith is much cheaper than doing so at your car dealer. Second, professional locksmith technicians are committed to making sure you are not inconvenienced in any way.
This means if you are in need of an emergency service, then we will help you in a timely manner. We work 24/7 and are always willing to get to your car as soon as possible. Besides, we carry out work with the utmost professionalism to ensure 100% satisfaction.