What To Do If You’ve Lost Your Car Keys

How to Deal with Lost Car Keys | Metromile

You’ve looked everywhere — your home, the car, under the pile of papers. You can’t find your car keys and are reaching the point of surrender. 

If you lost your car keys, understandably, you’ll want to find a replacement and regain access to your vehicle. If you need a car key replacement because you’re locked out of your car, here’s what to do.

Getting a transponder key

Many modern vehicles use sophisticated anti-theft devices, such as a transponder key. Transponder keys use a computer chip that connects your car and the key to get the engine started. 

The chip sends a serial number that is unique to your car. When the signal is received properly, your car can then be unlocked and used. 

Unfortunately, if your lost car keys have a transponder key, you need to head to your local dealership to get a car key replacement. Because you can’t get in the car, you’ll likely need to get towed to the dealership to get a new car key.

To make sure you’re the rightful owner of the vehicle, you’ll need to provide proof of ownership, such as your car registration or title. 
The dealership can create a car key replacement by pairing a new chip with your car. This could potentially cost you a couple of hundred dollars. You can also see if a local automotive locksmith can help you at a lower cost.

Replacing traditional car keys

Though they’re less common now, you may have a traditional car key. Traditional car keys don’t use a chip to unlock or start your car, and the replacement can be easier and more affordable than other types of car keys.

If you need to replace a traditional car key, you can get in touch with a local automotive locksmith who can get you a new one. A locksmith will likely be your most affordable option. 

If you don’t have a locksmith nearby, or if one can’t help you get a replacement car key, you can consider getting a replacement at a local car dealership that serves your car’s make or brand.

Having a car key fob

If you have a car key fob and lost it, you may still be able to use a traditional key to open the vehicle and get it started. Standalone car key fobs are typically made for convenience and don’t necessarily replace the ability to use a traditional car key.

If you need to buy a new car fob, you can often buy one online, at an automotive store, or at your local dealership. The dealership can likely program the fob for you for a small cost of $100 or less.

Getting a new switchblade key and fob

A lot of modern cars have combined the car key fob with a switchblade key. A switchblade-type key is a mechanism that folds into a key handle and opens up at the push of a button. 

If you need to replace a switchblade key and fob, it’s best to go to a car dealership. This could cost you a couple of hundred dollars.

Find a smart key replacement

The advances in technology have made their way to car culture with smart keys, often referred to as keyless ignition. If you have a dashboard that includes a start button to get the vehicle going, you have a smart key.

The smart key has a sensor that connects with the button in your vehicle and lets you start the car. Without the smart key, you don’t have the sensor to make the right connection. 

If you need a smart key replaced, you’ll need to get to the car dealership. This can also cost several hundred dollars and is generally the most expensive type of car key to replace.

The bottom line

No one ever wants to lose their car keys. While it can be costly or time-consuming, it’s generally possible to get a new car key or car key replacement, no matter the type of key or car you have. You will generally need to find an automotive locksmith or your nearest car dealership.

Adding roadside assistance coverage to your auto insurance policy could come in handy if you can’t get back into your car. Metromile’s roadside assistance helps drivers with tows and locksmith services, depending on your policy and coverage purchased. 

Want to get more from your car insurance? Check out Metromile and pay-per-mile auto insurance
You can get an online quote or check how much you could save if you switched by taking a free Ride Along™ trial from the Metromile app. You can earn additional savings of up to 15% off your initial Metromile quote after you show you’re a safe driver during your trial (you’ll need to keep your current insurance provider to maintain coverage) in select states.

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.