How to replace a lost car key

Many people loose keys all the time but most people don’t know how to replace a lost car key. Some people go to a local locksmith to get a new key. Some go to the car dealer to replace it. And some will replace all the locks to be extra safe. Losing car keys is not a common phenomenon so people rarely know the steps to follow. Whether you are left with one spare key or have lost the last one let me guide how to replace a lost car key.

People have to decide –

Que- Which is the best way to replace a lost car key?

Que- Will the locksmith do a good job?

Que- Is it better to go with the dealer even though it costs a lot of money?

Que- How to deal with the replacement if the keys are with or without the responder/immobilizer?

Before we begin, we need to understand two important aspects of the car keys – Type of Keys and the Transponder –

Type of car keys

It was important to understand the type of keys because I am dividing the discussion between the keys with and without transponder –

1. How to replace a lost car key without the transponder?

2. How to replace a lost car key equipped with the transponder?

HOW TO REPLACE A LOST CAR KEY WITHOUT THE TRANSPONDER?

As explained in the picture above the keys without a transponder are the traditional car keys with the cut on top and bottom and is operated manually. It is relatively simple to get it duplicated from a locksmith. Let’s understand the steps to replace the lost car key

STEP 1: LOOK FOR THE VIN NUMBER

The VIN is a Vehicle Identification Number which is a unique number for every car. They standardized the VIN in 1981 and every digit in the 17 number VIN signifies something. Please find more details about the VIN and where to find it in the car in the video below. If you cannot find the VIN on your car, please look in your registration and insurance documents. You can learn more about VIN Number here

STEP 2: GATHER VEHICLE DETAILS

Gather as many details about your car like the year, make, model, variant. This information will be helpful to duplicate the lost car key.

STEP 3: FIND A GOOD LOCKSMITH

The cheapest option is to go to your local locksmith and ask for a key replacement. It usually costs half or less than half cost compared to the prices from car dealers. If possible, carry the car manual, the duplicate key/fob to the locksmith for a faster turnaround. Even though a good locksmith will have the required equipment and tools to duplicate and re-program your key but any extra information is always helpful to get the job done faster.

ALTERNATE STEP 3: BUY A KEY ONLINE

If you are not in a big hurry, then you can look for a factory replacement key online. You should be able to find keys for most regular and popular cars in India from Amazon and online car key manufacturers. See examples below –

 

I found some online vendors like Flipkeys, CarkeyDelhi and Keyzone who also sell factory replacement keys for various car models in India. Before, you make a purchase from Amazon or any of the other vendor it is best to verify from your local locksmith if they will cut and program the key you are planning to buy from the online vendor and how much it will cost. Most of the times the cost of buying, cutting and programming the key directly from the locksmith is cheaper and should be less than half the price than buying from the manufacturer.

Note: I did not mention the prices for locks available from the dealer and the prices charged by the locksmith because it varies depending on many factors. The prices may vary depending on the locksmith’s experience and the equipment they use or even how urgent it is. Locksmith charges are usually cheaper by 25 to 50%.

HOW TO REPLACE A LOST CAR KEY WITH THE TRANSPONDER?

Different locksmiths will use different techniques and equipment to help replace your lost car key. If we dig deeper then we will find keys with zero bitted, encrypted, battery and with no battery. I will not cover these in this blog since my focus is to guide how to replace the car key.

Replacing a lost car key with the transponder can be tricky. It is tough to replicate the keys of some of the latest and advanced cars. If nothing works, then it is best to go to your car dealer to get a new one. However, a good locksmith can duplicate most keys with their advanced equipment and expertise.

You can follow the same process to replace a car key like the one described above for the keys without a transponder. I would like to highlight some additional points related to the keys with the transponder –

Dealer/Manufacturer

If you are not able to get your car key cloned and programmed from a locksmith, then it is best to get the key done from the dealer.

Insurance

Please check if the car insurance covers lost or theft of keys. If yes, then you should be able to get a new key at zero or low cost from your car dealer or manufacturer.

Service key

If you have one set of transponder key and want to duplicate it and don’t want to spend lots of money, then you can go for a service key. A service key is a flat metal key that’s copied from your transponder-equipped key.  They don’t have the transponder chip and will operate manually. 

Replacing all the Locks

Some change all the locks of the car when the keys are stolen. This can be an expensive affair. With the advancement in technology and encryption methods when you program a new key it disables all the old keys. So, depending on the car model and type of key it should be fairly safe to replace the lost key. Verify it from your locksmith or car dealer instead of spending so much of money.

There are many types of transponder keys. Locksmiths use different techniques to replace or duplicate them. Loosing keys is not the most common thing so people are usually not sure how to replace it with a new one. So it is better to understand their techniques and implications before you take the call.

I hope this information will help you take the right decision to replace your car key.

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