You’re ready to go; there’s just one problem: You can’t find your keys. If you’re in this situation, it can be frustrating and annoying. You might wonder, “Can I get a car key without the original?”
Here’s how to get a replacement car key when you’re locked out of your car and don’t have the original key.
Check your local dealership
You can get a replacement car key at the car dealer where you purchased your car.
Unfortunately, a replacement car key at a dealership can be pricey. Often, car dealers charge a premium for the service and may outsource this work to a locksmith. You can also consider going to a locksmith yourself.
Head to a locksmith
You can replace your lost car key at a locksmith, even if you don’t have the original key. Going straight to a locksmith may be more cost-effective than going to your car dealer, but you’ll need some information to make the process easier.
Gather your information
To get a replacement key from a locksmith, you’ll want to have the following information ready:
- Make of the car
- Model of the car
- Car registration
- Vehicle identification number (VIN)
The information will help the locksmith identify what type of key your car needs. You can find your car’s VIN on the dashboard on the driver’s side or the driver’s door.
You’ll also need this information to prove that you’re the owner of the car. Before the locksmith gets started, they will need to ensure you’re the rightful owner of the vehicle.
Understand what type of car key you need
Different cars require different types of car keys. Often, the type of car key you need comes down to the year your vehicle was made.
If your car was manufactured before 1981, you can likely get a standard key at a locksmith or, in some cases, a hardware store. Older vehicles generally don’t have specialized electronic components, such as transponders or chips.
Vehicles made after 1981 generally have more advanced technology. A locksmith may need to create a transponder key. In this case, going to an automotive locksmith or your dealer will be your best bet.
If you have a newer car, or your original car key was a key fob, you may need a smart key replacement. Key fobs communicate with your vehicle’s ignition and need to be close by to start your car. If you need a replacement, you’ll need to buy a new fob at your car dealership or an automotive store to get one programmed.
Go to an automotive locksmith
Getting a replacement key at your car dealership can work, but you could pay a lot more than if you had gone to an automotive locksmith.
An automotive locksmith can create a new key that works with your specific vehicle. On top of that, an automotive locksmith may be able to program your replacement key fob if that’s the issue.
Costs of replacing a car key
If you need a replacement car key, it’s going to cost some money. If you have an older car, you can replace your car key for $3 to $7.
A new key can be more expensive if you have a newer car with an electronic key or another specialized car key. Replacement car keys with chips, transponders, or fobs can cost up to $250, depending on your area and labor costs.
The bottom line
If you lost your car key and don’t have the original, visiting an automotive locksmith may be an affordable option.
Metromile provides affordable auto insurance coverage, which can help keep your car costs low. You pay a low monthly fixed rate and a few cents for each mile you drive with pay-per-mile auto insurance. Drivers can save $741 a year on average, according to a 2018 survey of new Metromile customers who saved when they switched.
Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.