Lost Car Keys – The Easiest Way To Get A New Car Key (2024)

Losing your car keys can be a bummer, especially if you don’t have a spare key. The key is, as its name implies, is the key for your car and with lost car keys, you will not be able to drive your car away. But you shouldn’t panic! There are ways to get around this problem.

  • What Is A Car Key?
  • Types Of Car Keys
  • What To Do If You Lose It?
  • Call A Locksmith
  • Cost To Replace Keys
  • Conclusion

Modern car keys are usually coded and it is not a simple thing to start your car without a key. In the worst-case scenario, the immobilizer will turn on and your car will get locked (or if you’re curious about how to get keys out of locked car). That’s why if you don’t have a key in your possession, the best thing to do is to call a locksmith.

Keys can also be pretty expensive, especially if they are lost and you don’t have an alternative key for your car. Personally, since I bought my car, I have only one key and I’m overthinking pretty frequently what could happen if I end up in a situation with lost car keys.

That’s why in this article, we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to car keys. First, we are going to learn the types of keys. We are going to study what you can do if you lost your car keys. Then, we are going to understand how a locksmith can help you out with this problem. After that, we are going to discuss the cost to replace lost car keys. And lastly, we are going to share some tips on how you can make your car safer from burglars.

What Is A Car Key?

The car key, as the name implies, is the key for opening your car and starting your car up. Without a key, you won’t be able to start your vehicle or to be able to move on the road.

Every vehicle has a unique key. If the car does not recognize the key, it cannot be opened or started. That’s why lost car keys are a serious problem that needs solving.

Thousands of people lose their car keys on a daily basis around the world and they are not able to start their vehicles. That’s why you always need to pay attention to where is your key and never lose track of it. If you misplaced it, the key is going to be lost and you will not be able to start your vehicle and drive your car. This action will have some repercussions.

Imagine that you are not able to go to work because you lost your car keys. Your boss is going to be absolutely furious! Or, if you have to go on a date and you lost your key. Your date will be extremely angry because she will think that you are only making excuses.

That’s why losing your car keys is not an option. But we are humans, and sometimes these things happen. That’s why you should have another reserve key to not be left stranded.

Usually, all automakers offer a secondary key. But in some situations, you will not have another key. Let’s say you bought a used car and the owner does not have a secondary key. That happened to me and I had to make another key for my car. Lost car keys are a problem, so let’s discuss the types of keys.

Types Of Car Keys

It is worth noting that there are a few types of keys, and you should know which type of key you are having. Car keys could be stolen, damaged, or lost. That is why you should always know what type of key your car has. Knowing the type of key, you will be able to tell others that have probably been around your key and if they have seen it. Usually, keys are lost during hangouts with friends or at home. Knowing this will help you find the key in no time, and you will not have to worry.

It can also be useful if you lost your key and you are chatting with a locksmith, and you are explaining to him what type of key your car has. This will be extra helpful because he will instantly know what kind of key your car has and will be able to assist you right away. So, which are the different types of keys? Let’s discuss.

Traditional Key

Traditional keys are one of the most basic keys that are out there. Before inventing the smart coded keys, the traditional keys were widely used in cars. Almost 100% of the cars came with this type of key until the late 80s until some better solutions were made.

The traditional key does not have any encoding protection or electronic components. This makes it extremely easy to hack. If someone wanted to steal your car, he can do this job with ease.

An experienced locksmith or thief can start your car in less than a minute and get away with it. That’s why these keys are not used anymore.

Their main use today is on classic cars. Classic cars still have these types of keys on them, and there is still a market for these keys even in 2021. This is the case because classic cars do not have any computers in them. Thus, they can’t use coded keys as most modern cars do.

These keys are extremely easy to duplicate and replaced. You will only need to take your key to a locksmith and he will make a duplicate in a few minutes. But if you lost car keys and you don’t have any alternative keys, you probably will have to replace the whole locking mechanism.

The locking mechanism can be rather expensive. But there is no other way to start your car if you don’t have a copy key. That’s unlike in modern cars where if you lost your key, you can still make a copy of your key and that is something that we are going to discuss next.

Transponder Key

Transponder keys are the modern standard for a car key. They are used for more than 20 years and they have greatly increased the anti-theft protection and made owning a car much safer. Transponder keys are also widely used in many keyless entry systems for houses gates and also garage doors that have remote open options.

The transponder key is using a microchip. It works in that way so it transmits a signal from a key, and this signal is then read by the receiver. Every microchip is programmed by the manufacturer and is using a unique serial number. The receiver is receiving this serial number and based on that information it opens up the lock.

In vehicles, when this transponder key is inserted into the lock, the key sends a signal to the receiver that is installed in the ignition. And if the serial number of the key matches the number that is on the ignition, the key will be able to start the car.

Transponder keys are improving security in many aspects. They can prevent theft with the usual method of hot wiring and other methods that burglars use to break into cars. That’s why getting a vehicle that has this security nowadays is a must, and this will guarantee that your car will not get stolen so easily.

Although, nothing is unbreakable, and thieves have developed ways of breaking into these cars as well. But, it’s not that simple anymore.

Laser Cut Transponder Keys

The laser-cut transponder keys are a lot thicker in size than the regular transponder key. In addition, they have a lot fewer grooves.

The laser-cut transponder keys, as their name suggests, are cut by a laser. They require a special machine to make a laser-cut key. That’s why the price of these keys is a lot more expensive than a regular transponder key. Not many locksmiths know how to recreate these keys because they do not have the right equipment.

That’s why you will have to find an expert that can code these keys to replace your lost car keys. The price for these keys is quite high and we are going to discuss that in a separate chapter.

Switchable Keys

The switchable keys are keys that can be folded into the fob and unfolded when there is a need to. They also work with transponders so the same technology is used here as well. These can be a bit pricier than regular transponder keys because of their housing that has a battery and the transponder that opens the doors.

Keyless Access

Keyless access is a modern feature that has a lot of potential to replace the transponder keys. With keyless access, you don’t need to have the key in your hand to access the door.

You only need to carry the key in your pocket and as you come near to the door. The door unlocks and you can get inside with no problem. Plus, it also starts the car as well in the process.

This keyless access gives the driver a lot of freedom. Imagine that your hands are full after shopping and you have to look for your key and find it. With keyless access, this job is done automatically, and you will not have to place the bags on the ground to unlock the car.

The keyless access is a more complex system than the transponder key and requires a lot of technology to work properly. That’s why replacing the key is far more expensive than a regular transponder key.

Keypad Access

Some companies offer access to your car even without needing a key at all. For example, Ford has a built-in keypad on their cars. You only need to know the key code, sort of like a PIN, to access the car and be able to start it.

This system is pretty simple and really straightforward to use. I personally do not understand why other companies do not use this practice to allow the owner to unlock his vehicle.

This is going to make things much simpler when the owner lost car keys, and be able to start the car easily to have it looked into by a locksmith to make a new key.

Keycard Access

Another way of accessing a vehicle is by using a keycard. Similarly, to keyless entry, you only need to carry the keycard with you and the lock will open.

Tesla is currently using this system and it works very well on their products. The anti-theft security is also pretty strong since the vehicle cannot be started if the owner does not have the key card with him.

That’s why Teslas are pretty bulletproof cars in terms of thefts and other break-in attempts.

What To Do If I Lost My Car Keys?

Car keys can be lost and that’s, unfortunately, one of the things that happen to an owner once or twice in their life. The important thing is to not panic. The more you panic, the more you will not be able to locate your key and unlock the vehicle.

Although, it is easy to say not to panic, in practice is difficult since it’s about something sensitive like your lost car keys.

The first thing you need to do is to look for your keys at the last spot you were in. If this was a hangout place or your friend’s house. Give them a call and tell them that you can find your keys anywhere and you need their help if the key is at their house. Or, at your house. The key maybe has fallen by an accident and someone has found it.

Then, another thing to check is your car. For example, if you have a keyless entry vehicle, you may have lost the key inside of the vehicle. It could be that the key fell out of your pocket and ended up between the seats.

Between the seats and your center console is one of the first places that you need to look for. The keys are usually lost at some obvious places.

If you still can’t find the key, you will need to get the reserve key. The reserve key is essential in these situations. That’s because you can use this key until you find a proper replacement for your primary key.

But if you cannot find the lost car keys, you will probably need to call a locksmith and let him help you out with your problem. But how can a locksmith help you fix your lost car keys problem? Well, let’s find out in the next chapter.

How A Locksmith Can Help Me Out?

When you have lost your car key there are two options. One is to call the car dealer that sold you the car to get you a programmed key for your vehicle, and another way is to get a locksmith to program a key for you.

The first option of calling a dealer is useful when you have a new vehicle and you still go to the dealership for regular service. This will be much more expensive than calling a locksmith. The dealership is probably going to require you to pay double or triple the price that a locksmith is going to ask for you. And, you also will have to give them all the documentation and title and all that to prove that the vehicle is yours.

The process is the same for the locksmith but is much cheaper. He is going to ask you to prove that the vehicle is yours. Because if you don’t have an identification, he will assume that you stole the car from someone and will call the authorities to deal with you. That’s why you should make sure that you have the proper identification and information about the ownership of the vehicle with you.

When the locksmith has made sure that this is your car, he is going to unlock your vehicle if the car is locked. Then, if you don’t have a key, he is going to create a new key for you.

This process of creating a new key is complicated when there is no other key available. That’s why it can cost a lot more to do. And we are going to cover the costs next.

Cost To Replace Car Keys

The cost to replace lost car keys can vary depending on the type of key that you have. If you have a classic car and the car doesn’t have a coded key, you are going to pay the lowest price. Since the key is not coded, it is easy to make. You are going to pay between $50 to $100 to get this work done by a locksmith.

If your car has a transponder key you, are going to pay more. That’s since the key has to be made by the locksmith and coded in the process. This requires skill and effort and also equipment. This is especially if we are talking about a laser-cut key. The laser-cut keys are the most expensive out of the bunch. They can cost between $200 and $300 to get this work done.

And if your car has a keyless entry, you are probably going to need to call your dealership for a factory key that is coded specifically for your vehicle. This is the case because these keys are difficult to reproduce and cost a lot of money. A keyless entry key is probably going to cost you between $400 to $600 to replace.

Not many locksmiths can perform this work, and if you can’t get a key from the dealership, they are probably going to recommend a locksmith that is working with them to get this thing solved easily and effectively.

That’s why you have to pay attention to where you leave your keys and make sure that you don’t lose them. If you lose them, you are going to pay the price to replace them with a new one. And also, the time that will go into all this work and the time that you won’t be able to use the vehicle are some things that can’t be replaced.

My Keys Are In The Car And The Car Got Locked

Another silly thing car owners make is that they forget their key in the car. And when they walk away from the vehicle, the car gets locked automatically.

This is really unfortunate and it can happen very often to some people. I have a friend that did this two times. And both times, he had to call a locksmith to open the door for him to get his keys. Thus, he paid for a locksmith twice.

Now, he probably learned his lesson and he does not forget his keys in the car anymore. That’s why you should try not to forget the keys inside of the vehicle. Because in the end, you are going to pay the price. There are also ways to open the car by yourself, but you can damage the window and the trim. That’s why this practice is not recommended to be done by inexperienced people.

Lost Car Keys and Replacement Facts

  • Automotive locksmiths can usually get you back into your car and make a new key within 20-45 minutes once they arrive.
  • Car key replacement can be done through a dealership or a locksmith, with the latter being less expensive and quicker.
  • Providing the locksmith with information such as the vehicle year, make, and model, registration, VIN, personal identification, and location will help the process of making a new key smoother and more efficient.
  • Locksmiths verify the ownership of the vehicle before making a new key.
  • A qualified locksmith should be able to assist with keys for all makes and models of vehicles, including trucks, motorcycles, and RVs.
  • Locksmiths can cut and program a new car key even without the original or the key code.
  • Locksmiths can replace electronic chips or remote key fobs.
  • Locksmiths usually provide mobile service and can perform the job onsite.
  • Creating a new car key from scratch usually takes 20-45 minutes, depending on the type of key and complexity of the transponder system.
  • The cost of replacing lost car keys ranges from $50 to $350, depending on the make and model of the vehicle and the overall scope of the work.

Lost Car Keys – Conclusion

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to lost car keys. We learned a lot. Starting from the key basics, we then learned all the key types that vehicles use. These key types were the traditional key, the transponder key, the laser cut transponder key, and the keyless entry.

Then, we discussed the prices and the cost that you will have to pay to replace the key with a new one. As we said, the price is going to depend on the type of key that you have. Also, don’t forget to remind yourself that whenever you lost your car keys, you should always have some kind of proof that you own the vehicle for the locksmith to open the car for you.

As an automotive security expert and enthusiast with extensive knowledge in the field, I can confidently affirm that the article provides a comprehensive overview of the critical aspects related to car keys, their types, and the potential issues associated with losing them. I'll break down the concepts covered in the article and provide additional insights where necessary.

Concepts Covered in the Article:

  1. What Is A Car Key?

    • A car key is essential for opening and starting a vehicle. Each vehicle has a unique key, and without it, the car cannot be opened or started.
  2. Types Of Car Keys:

    • Traditional Key:

      • Basic and widely used until the late '80s.
      • Lacks electronic components, making it susceptible to easy duplication.
      • Primarily found in classic cars.
    • Transponder Key:

      • Modern standard for car keys for over 20 years.
      • Contains a microchip programmed with a unique serial number for enhanced security.
      • Prevents traditional theft methods like hot wiring.
    • Laser Cut Transponder Keys:

      • Thicker and more expensive than regular transponder keys.
      • Cut by a laser, requiring specialized equipment.
      • Less common, and not all locksmiths can recreate them.
    • Switchable Keys:

      • Foldable keys that work with transponders.
      • Slightly pricier due to housing with a battery and transponder.
    • Keyless Access:

      • Modern feature eliminating the need to physically handle the key.
      • Enables unlocking and starting the car without the key in hand.
    • Keypad Access:

      • Some cars, like Ford, offer access using a keypad with a PIN.
    • Keycard Access:

      • Tesla uses keycards for access, enhancing anti-theft security.
  3. What To Do If You Lose It?

    • Check the last known location and contact friends or places you visited.
    • Search your car thoroughly, especially if it has keyless entry.
    • If unsuccessful, use the reserve key if available or consider calling a locksmith.
  4. How A Locksmith Can Help:

    • Two options: contacting the car dealer or a locksmith.
    • Calling a locksmith is generally more cost-effective.
    • Verification of ownership is crucial to prevent potential theft issues.
    • Locksmiths can unlock the vehicle and create a new key if necessary.
  5. Cost To Replace Car Keys:

    • Cost varies based on the type of key:
      • Classic keys: $50 to $100.
      • Transponder keys: $200 to $300.
      • Keyless entry keys: $400 to $600.
  6. Additional Insights:

    • Lost car keys and replacement facts emphasize the efficiency of locksmiths in getting you back into your car and making a new key within a short time frame.
    • Automotive locksmiths can handle keys for various vehicles, including trucks, motorcycles, and RVs.
    • Mobile locksmith services are common, allowing on-site key replacement.
    • Creating a new key from scratch typically takes 20-45 minutes, depending on key type and system complexity.


The article serves as a valuable guide for individuals dealing with lost car keys, offering insights into key types, potential solutions, and associated costs. The information provided aligns with industry standards, showcasing the author's in-depth knowledge of automotive security and key replacement processes.

Lost Car Keys – The Easiest Way To Get A New Car Key (2024)


Lost Car Keys – The Easiest Way To Get A New Car Key? ›

Call a nearby auto locksmith. This should be your first option. They generally will give you the best deal on a new key, about half as much as it would cost to get a new key from your manufacturer or dealer. Normally they don't charge to visit the car either.

What is the cheapest way to get a new car key? ›

The cheapest way to get your key replaced is to look for an auto locksmith. This option is also the fastest and is budget-friendly since they usually have all the equipment needed for the procedure. Roadside assistance. Another cheap way of getting the job done is by seeking roadside assistance.

What to do if one car key is lost? ›

Call an Auto Locksmith

Another solution for traditional lost car key emergency is to call a locksmith. Well-established locksmiths or vendors can create spare keys effectively on the spot. Such locksmiths usually develop another car key replacement from the structure of the keyhole.

How do you get a key for a car with no key? ›

You can call your car dealership or call an automotive locksmith. The first method isn't an easy one since it will take you longer. To get a replacement car key quickly and on site, you need a locksmith. Using a mobile service van, the technician can reach out to you and replace your key without delay.

Can AutoZone make a key without the original? ›

Does AutoZone cut blank keys? AutoZone can cut a new key blank for most makes and models, whether or not you require a transponder key. It's traced from your current key and is digitally verified before you leave the store.

Can I make a copy of my car key at AutoZone? ›

The best part is, no appointments are necessary at AutoZone, and we offer keys for a wide range of vehicles, including Chrysler, Ford, GM, Nissan, Toyota, and more. The keys are duplicated accurately, and the cuts are digitally verified before you leave the store.

Why are replacement car keys expensive? ›

As car technology and car safety features have evolved, so have car keys. No longer just a piece of metal, they're sophisticated electronic devises with a battery, transponder chip and printed circuit board. They're expensive to replace due to the tools and licensing required.

Can I find my car keys with my phone? ›

You will need a car key tracking device or an app connected to your key. The device consists of two parts - a remote and a receiver. You use the receiver to send a signal and then you can track it with the radio frequency or Bluetooth. If you're using a Bluetooth key finder, you'll need to connect it to your phone.

What is the difference between a transponder key and a chip key? ›

The difference between the two keys is that one has a micro-chip inside it and the other doesn't. The chip key needs programming before it can start working.

Will a broken key still start a car? ›

The key wont be able to start the ignition if its damaged since there is no way to get the vehicle to read the chip off the damaged key if you are using a different key.

Can you get a new car key without a spare? ›

If you've lost your car keys, you can usually get a new set cut without needing the original set. The cost of this can vary depending on how you get your replacement keys. In some cases, your car insurance policy might even cover it. Here's what you need to know.

Can Lowes make a car key without the key? ›

If you find yourself needing a spare key for the dog walker or babysitter, shop for a key blank and then bring it to the hardware department to create your new key. We can duplicate house keys and even cut spare car keys.

What happens if I drive away without key fob? ›

If you drive off without your key fob, your vehicle may not start or it may shut off while you are driving. This is because most modern cars use keyless entry and ignition systems that require the key fob to be present in order to operate the vehicle.

How much does AutoZone charge to program a key? ›

Do AutoZone stores offer key programming services, and how much do they typically charge? AutoZone stores do offer key programming services, and the typical charge can vary but may range from $30 to $80, depending on the complexity of the programming process. It's often much less than other options.

What is a transponder key? ›

Chipped, or Transponder, keys are keys that have an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip inside the head of the key. These types of keys have become an industry standard for vehicle manufacturers. This is because the RFID chip adds an extra layer of security to your vehicle's ignition.

Can Home Depot make a key from VIN number? ›

Well, most desks, cabinet and small locks have numbers etched on or near the key hole. That number can be used to get a code and that code is used to cut a key. As for car keys, with a vin number and proof of ownership, we can get a code and cut a key.

Does Lowes cut new car keys? ›

If you find yourself needing a spare key for the dog walker or babysitter, shop for a key blank and then bring it to the hardware department to create your new key. We can duplicate house keys and even cut spare car keys. There's no need to be boring when you create your new key.

Can Home Depot make me a new car key? ›

Does Home Depot Sell Car Keys? Home depot mainly cuts car keys without transponder chips. Being that most ignition car keys now-a-days require transponders chips these keys will only operate the door. Home Depot does have a limited selection of transponder chip keys that can be cloned at some Home Depot locations.

How much does it cost to have a key fob programmed? ›

How Much Does It Cost to Reprogram a Key Fob? Several factors determine the cost to reprogram a fob. While it's hard to give a universal estimate, the general cost is between $50 and $250 for reprogramming.


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