Many people think of locksmiths only when an emergency occurs, such as getting locked out of their home or car. However, a locksmith can also make copies of keys and even replace lost ones. The process of doing this for a lost car key is fairly similar to making a new copy of a lost house key, but with a slight difference due to the increasing technology used to prevent car theft. The good news is that in most cases, a locksmith will indeed be able to replace your lost car key — and charge you much less than you would have to pay your car dealership for the same service.
Shaping the Key
While it is much easier for locksmiths to cut a key from an existing pattern or the original key, they can also get the information from the lock in your car. This means that even if your key is lost, they can use the lock itself to make a new one. Locksmiths have the training and experience, as well as the tools, to analyze the lock in your car and determine its interior layout. This allows them to create a visual representation of what your lost key looks like so you can get a new copy, whether or not you have the original on hand. It takes a bit more time than copying a key, but experienced locksmiths can still get the job done quickly.
Getting the Transponder
One thing to keep in mind if you have a lost car key is that it will take a bit longer and be more expensive to replace if your key included a transponder. This is a small chip implanted in the key that works with a similar chip in the ignition. It is a theft-prevention method, and cars with transponders in their keys will only start with a key that includes a transponder. That means that even if the locksmith creates a key that fits your car’s lock and gets you into the vehicle, it won’t turn on the ignition without the transponder. Luckily, locksmiths will be able to get you a transponder, but it may take a bit more time. To do so, they will need to know the make and model of your vehicle and might also need your vehicle identification number (VIN).
Keyless Entry Remotes
Despite it falling outside the range of “traditional” locksmith duties, these professionals can even work with keyless entry remotes for your car. Many experts are able to repair them when damaged, and some can also make you a new one if you lose yours. If you are looking to replace your keyless entry remote instead of your standard car key, simply be sure to let the locksmith know, as not all of them have this specialty.
The best locksmiths pride themselves on security and will want proof of ownership of your vehicle before making you a replacement for your lost car key, so be sure to have this paperwork handy. You will also probably need the basic information for your car, such as its make or model. Based on that information alone, a locksmith should be able to tell you whether your key has a transponder and let you know whether he or she can replace the key, as well as how long it will take to do so.