How To Get a Replacement Car Keys – All You Need To Know Before You Make a Decision, Including Options, Tips & More.
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One of the first questions we are being asked when people are in need of a replacement key is: How can I get a replacement key for my car? What to do if I lost my car keys and have no spare?
In this blog post, we will outline how to get a new key for your car without the original, including key fob, transponder key, and regular key. In addition, we will explain what happens when you lose your only key and who can make you a replacement. (dealership, an automotive locksmith, or online).
Moreover, we will go over the pros & cons of each option, will give you some useful tips, discuss how to make the process easier with VIN number and more.
Before we start, we highly recommend you read our blog posts:
- How to find lost car keys – try these proven, simple ways to find your missing keys
- The estimated cost of a replacement key
- Car key replacement – insurance coverage.
How to get new keys for your car without the original?
Generally speaking, you have three options.
- Call an automotive locksmith
- Order a key online
- Replace your car key at the dealership
What is the best option? Well, that depends on your situation (emergency/ non-emergency, year make and model of your car and more.) Each option above has pros and cons. We will go over each one below so you can choose the right option for you.
But before we do, remember this: In case you simply need a duplicate key, meaning you already have a working key and would like to get a spare one, the process is faster, easier and cheaper.
This article is for those who lost their car keys and don’t have a duplicate spare key.
The first option, Call an automotive locksmith:
Most automotive locksmiths can make you a new car key without the original, including chip keys, key fobs and more.
Moreover, most automotive locksmiths offer a mobile service meaning they can come to your location, or to where the car is located, cut and program a new, replacement key on site.
As you can imagine, this is the fastest, most convenient option to get a replacement car key fast. There is no need to tow your car to the dealer and regardless of your location, they most probably will be able to come to you.
Often, this option is the most cost-effective option.
To make the process easier and faster, here are some tips to know before you call an automotive locksmith:
- Always ask for a quote. Explain the locksmith about your situation, your location, what type of key you had and make sure you get an estimate. They should be able to give you an estimate. It may not be an exact quote but surely a rough one.
- Provide the VIN number – The VIN number give the locksmith an option to get all the necessary information about your vehicle. In addition, it should help them know if they carry a replacement key blank, and if programming is needed. (Most often it will be). Not sure how to find the VIN number? Provide the year make and model of the car and any additional information you know about the type of key you had. (Non-transponder, chip, key fob)
- Ask for ETA – this is extremely important. As mentioned above, most automotive locksmiths travel around the city all day, driving from one customer to another. Therefore, the location you see on your phone is probably their store’s location, not their actual location where they are right now. It is extremely important to ask where they are now, how long until they can get to you to prevent a long waiting period. Are they too busy? Too far? Keep calling around!
- Expand your search – most chances you didn’t open the phone book to look for a locksmith. Today, most of our searches are location-based. What it means is that when you look for an automotive locksmith (or any other search in this sense), the results you get are based on your location. However, as explained above, it doesn’t really matter what your location is, as long as you look for a 20-30 miles radius around you as the locksmith anyhow may be traveling around. Don’t limit your search and don’t be lazy, look around and find the right automotive locksmith near you who can come in a timely manner.
- Ask for affiliation – many automotive locksmiths today are affiliated with roadside assistance companies such as AAA as well as insurance companies. These nationwide companies subcontract jobs to these locksmiths to help their customers in times of need. The reason it’s important is that you may be able to get at least some of the money you spent back. In addition, you may pay less overall if you choose a locksmith that works with them. Ask about it, it can’t hurt.
- Get an invoice for reimbursement – as mentioned above, depends on your insurance policy, you may be able to get a reimbursement from your insurance company.
Now, let’s go over the pros and cons:
- Convenience – this is, by far the most convenient option. You don’t have to tow the car anywhere or order any special keys etc. All you must do is simply call and the locksmith will come to you.
- Very fast – this is also the best way to get your new replacement key fast and be on your way in no time. In addition, most locksmiths offer 24 hr. emergency services, such as lockout and key replacement so what it means, no matter what time you need service, you will get it.
- Price – overall, this is the best option. It isn’t the cheapest, but considering the alternatives of time and money, this is the best.
- Availability of keys, key fobs, remotes – there are many different makes and models out there. In addition, for each one there are different keys, transponder key, key fobs and keyless entry for different years which comes to an overall huge number of key blanks. Therefore, it may result in a situation where the locksmith doesn’t have the relevant key blank for your vehicle. This is especially relevant when your car is very old or very new.
- Program the key – most chances are that your key or key fob needs to be programmed. There are many different keys and most of them need a specific coding machine. Therefore, there is a chance the locksmith doesn’t carry this exact coding machine. This is especially relevant for high-end cars such as BMW, Mercedes etc.
So, what is the bottom line:
Automotive locksmiths are, for most people, the best option to get a car key replacement in case you lost all keys and don’t have the original or spare. It isn’t the cheapest option, but considering the circumstances, convenience, price, time and more factors, this is the best option.
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The second option, order a replacement key online: (Click here)
Another option you have is to order a new duplicate car key online.
Here is what you need to know before we even start talking about a quote, VIN, your cost, etc.
When you get a key online, it is what we call “blank key”. A blank key is a key that needs to be cut, and in most cases, programmed or coded. Therefore, to order a replacement key online is only the first step. You will have to contact either the dealer or locksmith to have the key cut and programmed.
In addition, remember that there are many car keys that look the same, but have different names and security features. This is especially true for key fobs for newer models.
Double-check with the VIN number to make sure you get the right key. Otherwise, you may have a problem programming your key. Need to know how to order a key online? You can do it here by choosing your year make, model.
Let’s go over the pros and cons of this option:
- Price – most chances this would be the cheapest option for you to get the actual key or key fob. There are plenty of options online, different sellers, and different deals and coupons, including aftermarket keys.
Coding & programming – this is a very important point. Most people who order a key online don’t know that the key they buy is a key that needs to be cut and programmed. Furthermore, in most cases, you won’t be able to program the key yourself which will result in a much higher cost, as you still depend on the dealer or locksmith to cut and program it for you.
- Time – it will take some time to get the key in the mail, at least 24 hr. In addition, remember that you will have to schedule a time to go and program your car key at a locksmith shop or at the dealer, with the car present.
- Availability of keys – You will find most keys online for most makes and models, including key fobs. However, keep in mind that new key fobs or very old keys, including some transponder chip keys and VATS keys, won’t be available or will be available at a very high price.
So, what is the bottom line:
We recommend using this option only for non-emergency situations when you need a duplicate spare key and already have a working key.
In addition, the overall cost of getting a replacement key online, including cutting and programming the new key, isn’t worth the time you spend VS the money you save, which won’t be a substantial difference.
However, for those of you who simply need a duplicate key, this is, by far, the best option.
The third option, contact your local dealer:
The dealership is also an option to get a replacement key. We will go over the price of a new key from the dealer, how long it takes, how the VIN can help them make you a key and more.
Let’s start by saying that the dealership usually charges more for the actual key than a locksmith but most chances are they will have the key blank you need and will be able to program the key for you the same day.
This is especially relevant for new keys and high-end car manufacturers as those keys require an additional, more advanced type of programming machine that not all locksmith carry.
Time – chances are the dealer will be able to solve your problem very fast.
Availability of keys – this is especially relevant for newer models. The dealer should have all key blanks, transponder chip keys and even the newest key fobs for your car. In addition, unlike automotive locksmiths, they will have the necessary equipment to program you the key/ key fob.
Price – the dealer usually charges more for the key than a locksmith. In addition, you will have to tow your car there, which will result in a higher cost overall.
Availability – the dealer usually works regular business hours, and therefore if you need service outside business hours, they may not be able to help.
So, what is the bottom line:
We recommend contacting the dealer only in situations when you don’t have another alternative. This is mostly relevant for high-end cars and the newest models, when your local automotive locksmith can’t help, doesn’t have the key blank of the necessary programming machines and tools.
Finally, remember to provide the VIN number before you contact the dealer so they can verify they can help you before you tow your vehicle there to avoid unnecessary expenses.
We hope we made things a bit easier for you. For more information, please Call Us Now: 800-223-1453