Can I replace a car key without having the original key?
People have been losing car keys since cars were first manufactured and sold to the public. Perhaps you leave your keys somewhere unusual and then forget where you left them. This happens to people all the time. You don’t realize the true importance of your car keys until they go missing.
Modern car keys are not like ordinary keys. They could be transponder keys or smart keys. Transponder keys are equipped with computer chips and sensory technology that is difficult to duplicate or replace. They prevent thieves and carjackers from hotwiring vehicles like they used to do in the old days.
Smart keys function similarly, but they offer even more technologically advanced features. For instance, the vehicle automatically unlocks the car door when it senses the smart key getting close to it. The driver can even start the ignition without inserting the key. Of course, they need the key to be in their possession.
If you don’t have a spare key after your original key goes missing, you might feel panicked over how to get another key. Fortunately, it is possible to replace any car key without the original key. So it doesn’t matter if you drive a 1991 Nissan Figaro or a 2012 Ford Focus. There are ways to make copies of the original key without actually having it in your possession.
Older car keys replacement and duplication
Older car keys don’t have any computer chips in them. They are strictly mechanical keys made of metal, just like any standard key. If your old car key goes missing, a locksmith can cut a new key for you without the original. As long as they have access to the keyhole of your car door, they can use their special tools to reproduce a new key based on the configuration inside the keyhole.
Transponder Keys and Smart Keys
If you’re like most people today, you have a car that was made after 2010. Newer vehicles typically use either transponder keys or smart keys. Unfortunately, replacing them without the originals won’t be as easy as replacing mechanical keys. Your options will be to contact the car dealership that sold you the vehicle or contact an auto locksmith.
The car dealership is the easiest option. They supplied you with the original key, so they’ll know how to cut and program a new key very quickly. Their computers contain all the information about the make and model of your vehicle and programming data for the original key. It would be easy for them to duplicate a new key based on their records of your original key.
However, a car dealership will charge you hundreds of dollars to replace your transponder key or smart key. You’ll also have to tow your vehicle to the car dealership, which increases your costs even more. There is no sense in paying extra for these services when you can get a better deal with an auto locksmith. Auto locksmiths usually charge about 50% less for their key duplication services.
Make sure you contact a locksmith who specializes in auto lockouts and duplicating car keys. Unfortunately, not all locksmiths can duplicate transponder keys and smart keys, so you have to choose the right company. It should be a reputable auto locksmith with experience cutting new transponder and smart keys without the originals.
How it Works
The only disadvantage of an auto locksmith is that they won’t be as familiar with the make and model of your vehicle and its locking mechanisms. That is why they might ask you for information about your car before they come out to assist you. It is standard information like the VIN and the Title of Ownership on the vehicle.
Find the VIN
Every vehicle has the VIN displayed on the dashboard facing the windshield. You don’t even need to be inside the car to see it. Simply look at the far left or far right side of your windshield to see the number. The locksmith can help you locate it too.
Verify Car Ownership
The title certificate is something you must have readily available. You can order a certified copy of the title from your local DMV office or your state’s DMV website. The locksmith will want to verify your ownership of the vehicle first. After all, they certainly don’t want to help a thief break into a car that does not belong to them.
Therefore, you’ll need to have your title certificate and photo identification ready to prove the vehicle is yours before they duplicate your key without the original.
Towing is Unnecessary
In most cases, your car won’t have to be towed anywhere. Emergency auto locksmiths will bring all the necessary "locksmithing" equipment to your home or any other location where your car is parked.
It would help if you could tell them which type of key you lost, whether it was a transponder key or a smart key. Don’t expect the locksmith to know based on the make and model alone.
Auto locksmiths have access to the exact vehicle database as car dealerships. The database stores unique key code information for every individual vehicle under their VIN. The locksmith will enter your VIN into the database to retrieve the key code information for your car. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes.
Cut and Program the New Key
Once the locksmith knows how to cut your key correctly, they will program the key code information into it. Then your new car key should work just fine. The remote-control buttons should be able to unlock and lock the car doors again too.
The locksmith may take more time than a dealership because they have to research your vehicle and its key code information. But it is still worth the wait because you will save money on their service fees.
Of course, if you feel more comfortable visiting a dealership to get your replacement key, then you can always exercise that option. Just be prepared to tow the vehicle and pay extra money for the service.