Losing your car keys in 2020 is a daunting experience. With the broad adoption of keyless entries and keyless ignition, modern cars contain transponder systems that allow you to access them, as long as you always have the transponder key in your person. Here are some tips on what you should do if you lose your car keys.
Replacing your keyless fob is quite expensive due to their different wireless transmitters and encrypted chips. It is advisable that you always ensure your car keys are in your pockets or bag. Here are some essential tips on what to do if you lose your car keys.
What type of car key did you lose?
With the availability of universal car keys, losing your keys back in the day was not such a big ordeal. Due to modern technological advancements, each car comes with its own set of specifications, different from the other. Therefore, it is vital to exactly know what type of key you have lost, so that you know which one to get.
Modern vehicles come with programmed transponder keys, also known as chip keys, while others have both the transponder key as well as a keyless entry remote. Car manufacturers electronically pair these keys with your car’s locking and ignition system. Without the key, you cannot access your vehicle nor drive it, thus making it a nightmare to lose.
Smart keys use proximity-based systems to unlock and lock the car as well as start the car without putting the key in the ignition. Car manufacturers have different names for this technology, such as Audi’s Advanced Key, Ford’s Intelligence Access, and Honda’s Smart Entry System.
Keyless entry remote
Also known as a key fob, this keyless remote may come paired with transponder keys. The key fob uses radio frequency to lock and unlock the car and may also feature a keyless ignition system. Once with your vehicle, you can still use your traditional key to operate and control your vehicle.
Traditional car key
One of the easiest car keys to replace is the traditional car key as it does not have complex technology on them. To replace or duplicate them, visit a locksmith or a hardware store for their key-cutting services.
What should I do if I lost my car keys and I have no spare?
Use your replacement car key
In case you lose your car key, or you break it, it is crucial always to ensure you have a spare set of car keys stored away somewhere safe. Auto locksmiths and car dealerships replace lost car keys for all vehicle models and key types. They re-program the new car key to match the settings on your vehicle. Auto locksmiths are relatively cheaper and faster than dealerships.
Ensure you supply your auto locksmith/dealer with the exact make and model of your vehicle, personal identification, car registration details as found in the car’s log book and your precise location if you require them to come to you.
Search your immediate area
The biggest problem when we lose our car keys is to panic. When you panic you lose all sense of memory and this makes it harder to locate your car keys. Take a moment to breath in slowly and try to recollect your thoughts. Most of the time we think we have lost of our keys, they may actually be in our pockets, handbags or simply left on the coffee table. As you try to recollect your steps you may find them lying somewhere on the chair or on your working desk.
Locked car keys in the car
The other mostly forgotten place for lost keys is inside the car. Once you have checked your surrounding areas, the next place your car keys could be is inside the car – most probably in the ignition. Forgetting your car keys in the car posses several problems in the absence of a replacement key. If you are familiar with using hangers and pliers to open your door then go ahead. As long as you can proof to authorities that this is indeed your car, otherwise you may be mistaken for a carjacker. If this is not your thing, you can look for a local locksmith you can get the door open for you. Do not try to open the windows or doors with crude weapons as you may cause more damage. Most inexperienced drivers end up with chipped paint where there is forced entry or broken windows.
Sometimes, you may misplace your keys, and if given a little more time, you figure, you will probably remember where you had placed your keys. In such circumstances, you may opt for using a simple valet key. Despite its lack of remote lock control, by using traditional car locking and unlocking methods, you will have access to your car and the ignition. The valet key contains the authorized chip, allowing access to your car, thus less costly as compared to making replacement keys.
If your misplaced key fob is not in your car, check your car manual to see how to access it remotely. Some vehicles without an exposed keyhole contain a small plastic plate on the car’s door handle, that is easy to pry off, giving you access to your car.
Check your car insurance
Some car insurers cover for the loss of your car keys while others will pay an expert to enter your vehicle if your valuable belongings are inside the car. Checking and ascertaining your insurance policies enables you to claim such a policy as well as save yourself the hassle.
However, it is essential to determine whether such claims will affect your insurance status, such as the number of your claims discount. Some insurance companies may also provide you with a temporary car to use while you wait for your replacement keys.
Some modern car manufacturers use telematic systems to control and monitor a car. By using GPS and several onboard diagnostics, the car owner can locate, record, and map out the location of the car as well as ensure its internal system is running optimally.
Car manufacturers have different names for such systems in their cars, such as Mercedes-Benz’s mBrace, Hyundai’s Bluelink, and General Motors’ OnStar. Upon subscription to these systems, you can remotely unlock and ignite your car by the use of a mobile application or by calling your automaker. However, these systems do not allow you to drive the car, but you can access your belongings if you locked them in the car and lost your key.
How long does it take to replace my car keys?
Depending on the type of car and car key, finding a spare replacement key can take up to several months. Professional auto locksmiths usually deliver the replacement keys within the same day. It is recommended to contact a locksmith if you have an older vehicle since it is relatively cheaper than dealerships.
However, with new vehicle models released every few months with more sophisticated technology, some locksmiths may not have the necessary know-how to tackle and provide you with a key. Thus, you will need to contact your dealership to assist you in getting a new key.
Easy ways to gain entry to your car when you have lost keys
Locking yourself out of your car is not unusual. It happens to the best of us. When not panicking you can use some of these tips to gain entry to your car – especially if its an emergency and you do not have access to a spare key or contact with a locksmith.
Enter through the trunk
This method is dependent on two factors – the trunk is open and you are small enough to creep through the trunk and open the doors from the inside. It will also depend on the car type that you have. To make good use of this method, open the trunk and push the rear seats forward. This will give you some space to crawl to the inside and open the doors. If you are big look for a child – with the parents’ permission – and ask them to crawl inside the small rear seat space to the car doors.
Locksmith wedge technique
Here you will need some wedge like vinyl, plastic or soft metal. The idea is to use the wedge to create some small space between the car door and frame. Once you have a small space you can then insert a long thin object that can pull the door lock. Some people insert a cloth hanger in between the spaces then use it to hook the door locking pin and then pull it up. When using any of these methods make every effort not to damage the car door stripping or paint work.
Unlocking an automatic door
If you have an automatic door then the process is a bit simpler. The first thing is to create a wedge between the door then using a thin rod to press the automatic lock that is located on the drivers side o the arm rest. This should subsequently open all the car doors.
The slim jim technique
With this technique, you will need a special tool called the slim jim. This is a simple metal strip that is commonly used for opening doors. You can get one at your local auto repair shop. The slim jim works best for the passenger door, as you will find so many wires on the driver’s side. Firstly, great a wedge at the top of the door and push the slim jim into the doors locking mechanism. Since the device is hook like it will grasp the locking mechanism. Once you are sure you have a solid grip on this locking mechanism, pull it up and the door will open.
Using a rod and screwdriver
Be careful with this one as it can cause some serious damage to your doors. The benefit is you should get inside your car in less than 30 seconds. The idea is to create some space for the rod using your screwdriver. Once the rod is inside, use it to push your car’s unlock button.
Calling AAA/police/security officer
If you have your local AAA number it would make more sense to call them and ask for assistance. In most states they are one of the best people for any car emergencies. If they are not available your next option would be to go with your local police officers. They would help If all fails but ensure they are not too busy handling key security matters. If you are in a public place and there is a security officer then you can ask them for help.
Dangers of breaking into your own car
You maybe thinking – what is the problem with breaking into my own car. If you have scrolled the internet lately you will find tons of YouTube videos and articles on how to best break into your own car. While these are helpful for emergencies, you should be aware of the consequences of doing this before you give it a try.
Damage to your car
The main reason why your mechanic would not recommend you breaking into your own car is you may cause more damage than solutions. The problems with using crude tools for unlocking your car is you will destroy the door lock, damage the window opening mechanism and scratch the paint on your door panels. A new car lock with a faulty window mechanism will cost you more than the time you will have spent waiting for a locksmith to open your door.
You could get hurt
Some of the tools been used to unlock the door come with very sharp and pointed edges. If you are not careful the force been used to open the door may turn against you and hurt you. You can even end up stabbing yourself with a blunt object should anything go wrong. Now imagine been admitted to hospital for serious surgery because you were trying to open your car with blunt objects. If you are an amateur then the risks maybe too high to attempt anything.
Get you in trouble with local authorities
You see, no one knows that the car you are trying to break into is actually yours. The first thing the cops or security personnel will think when you try to break into your car is you are a potential thief. If you have not carried with you the car’s registration details or proof of ownership you may find yourself spending some time in jail.
The job becomes more complicated than you imagined
If you have been consuming lots of YouTube videos on car locks then it may give you the impression that it is something pretty simple. Technological advancements has led to more complicated door locks. Such kind of doors come with very complicated anti-theft mechanism that even lock the engine in case of unwanted entry. Trying to open such a door may lead to further car damage that is high to fix.
Carjackers can target you
Depending on where you are doing the door unlocking, you may realize that they are other people who are watching you and ready to take advantage of your misfortunes. As you make efforts to unlock your car someone maybe waiting to empty your wallet or simply drive off with your car. If you are with your family, note that your life is not as important as the car. You can simply leave it and call a locksmith or police to help you.
How to get replacement key using VIN number
The vehicle identification number (VIN) is a unique number that is used for identifying the car. It is unique for each car and works like fingerprints. In case your car is stolen it can be identified by its VIN. From the beginning of 1990 most cars started coming with key codes. This number is saved by the car’s manufacturer and you can get a replacement key once you show proof of ownership. The VIN is often located on engine bay or dashboard. The VIN also has information concerning car type, year of manufacture, model year among others.
Some auto dealerships may also have provisions for key replacement using the VIN. In this case they will study the type of key you have and probably make a replacement key. Some modern keys will need to be reprogrammed for them to be effective. The problem with modern keys is that they are more complex than those of older cars – especially those made before the 1990s. In those days, all you needed is to make a soap engraving of a similar key and you would be surprised how well it works. Things are much more complicated nowadays and some key replacement may cost you several hundred dollars.
With the complexities and hassles that come with losing a car key, it is better not to lose one in the first place. Service providers like TrackR, Tiles, Pebblebee, and Lasso offer you a safe solution whereby they give you an electronic tag to put on your key ring to help you find your keys. By using Bluetooth technology, your cell phone tracks the keys and allows you to ‘see’ where you last you had them.
If you happen to lose your car keys, and you have no spare key, utilizing the tips provided above will save you a lot of unwanted stress. It is also advisable to get a spare key and safely store it away, once you get your original key.
How much does it cost to make a new car key?
If you have an old car then replacing your lost key should go above $10 but if you have keyless entry car keys then you maybe looking at costs as high as $600. The replacement costs for a new key is determined by the technologies involved. Simple keys require very little in replacement but for the latest model cars, you will have microchips implanted on the keys and this means the key has to be programmed a fresh to make it usable again. Lowest priced keys are the standard keys found in old cars, followed by VATS car keys, then transponder keys, then laser cut keys and lastly proximity FOBs.
Are car keys covered by insurance?
When it comes to insurance it will depend on the type of insurance you have. If it is comprehensive insurance then there is a possibility your insurance covers the lost key. Even in this cases, note that not all comprehensive covers will handle lost keys. If you have a policy, you may notice that you are covered up to a certain point, the rest of the cost is covered by you. Also, note that some insurance companies will cover the keys as part of their roadside assistance package. The model of the car will also determine the insurance cover. If the car is very expensive then expect the key to be covered.
Can a locksmith make a replacement key without original?
Most locksmiths can make a replacement key if the key is for a car made in the 1990s. Such keys were less complicated and did not have chips installed in them. However, transponder keys are more complicated due to the presence of a chip. Also, some of these modern cars will come with complex security systems that make it harder to gain entry to the car. The first option would be to take your car to your dealer, but this is costly as you will need to have the car towed there. Also, you need the car’s VIN or proof of car ownership. If a dealer is too much for you, the next option is the locksmith. This can handle any kind of key but you will first have to show them that the car is actually yours. Once you give them the make, and type of car a key can be made.