Replacing a lost or worn car key can be a messy and frustrating experience. Sometimes the key is broken, while sometimes it can be bent or worn until it is no longer functioning properly.
Losing a key is especially frustrating with the constant concern that through the process of obtaining a replacement key, the owner will find the original key somewhere obvious – such as the pocket of a jacket in which it was lost. Whatever the reason, the key is essential to using the car, so every car requires at least one spare key.
Search for the lost car key
Our lives are full of surprises, which are not always positive. For example, the keys may be lost in another city or even in a country, and the second copy is at home, where there is no opportunity or time to return. In this situation, you must consider the following aspects.
The main thing – under no circumstances do not panic. You need to remember the places where the car key might have fallen and carefully examine the entire route you took or maybe you put it in another jacket or pants and forgot about it. If the search results are not effective, you can contact the information service or company administration, or the mall, or the hotel you were in for help. They have the opportunity to make an announcement and, if anyone has found the keys, they will surely return them to the owner.
Write an ad on the internet or on a social network
You should write an ad about the lost keys that contains detailed information about the make and model of the car, the day and time when you think the keys were lost and the place exactly. This may not give expected results or the search will continue for a long time, but it is worth a try. If the keys are returned, you must surely thank that person.
Recovering car keys that are not equipped with a chip
There are several options for recovering such keys. It all depends on how the vehicle was purchased and sold:
- car dealers;
- second-hand market.
- Car bought at a dealership
If the car has been purchased from an authorized dealer, you must call and report a problem. A duplicate key will be selected at the dealership, but for this, it is necessary to indicate the following data about the vehicle:
- year of purchase;
- VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
Most of the time, VIN is enough. Otherwise, the situation will be complicated, especially if VIN is printed on the engine compartment board or in the cabin on the front doors.
You will need to use the services of a car towing company and deliver the car to a dealer. But you must have documents with you to confirm that the service customer is, in fact, the owner of the vehicle. In the center, the representatives will make a duplicate key. But it will be expensive and, of course, all the expenses will have to be paid by the owner of the car.
What if you lose the key to a car bought from the second-hand market?
If the vehicle is purchased on the used market and there is no spare key, then you will need to seek help from an experienced locksmith when opening the car. The specialists of such companies open locks of any complexity without difficulties and this process does not require much time.
You can also contact a company that produces duplicate keys for the car. The advantages of this method include: speed and lower costs compared to taking over the keys through a dealer.
Recovering a car key with a chip
Losing a key with a built-in microchip, which is associated with the immobilizer in the car, is a more serious problem than the previous ones. Creating a duplicate without a chip will not help in this case. Only opening the door will succeed, but starting a car will not work. But there are no hopeless situations.
What is a chip key?
The electronic key is equipped with a special chip with a specific code. When it is in the ignition, a signal is read from it and the data is transmitted to ECU. Only then can the engine start. If the signal is not received or is not sent, the immobilizer blocks the operation of the main systems of the machine and simply does not start or stop.
The ends of the chip keys are more massive, some are equipped with buttons. The lack of buttons does not mean that the key does not have a chip. Checking its presence is quite simple – you should wrap the head of the car wrench with foil (in several layers) and try to start the engine. If it does not start, the key is equipped with a chip.
Recovery of a lost key with a chip is recommended through an authorized dealer. When buying a vehicle, the owner receives a special card with codes for radio and immobilizer. If not, then you need to call a towing company and transport the car to a car dealer. Retrieving data from the immobilization code is a costly and time-consuming task (from a few weeks to a month), so it is best not to lose that card with codes.
Is it possible to recover the lost key without contacting the dealer?
A few years ago, the chip was made only by a car dealer. Today, recovering a lost key with a microchip is also done by companies that have special programs that can be used to select codes for almost any immobilizer.
The recovery procedure consists of the following operations:
- adaptation of new keys to car electronics;
- removing the data of the previous key from the system;
- recoding the immobilizer;
- resetting of immobilization errors.
In many cases, the coding can be done even on the spot, but sometimes it is necessary to deliver the vehicle to a service center. The cost of labor depends on many factors, but compared to a dealer it is cheaper and much faster.
Many cars use keyless entry and keyless go devices and they usually don’t look like a real key, they have greater reliability. If one of these devices does not work or islost, it is necessary to order a new car key.
They don’t cost much to buy online, but going through distribution is a safer bet. You can even program certain keys at home. Others must be programmed by a professional.
In some cases, the key is programmed to manufacture and then sent to the customer, but this is only valid for some top manufacturers. Security is important, replacing the car card can be expensive, so be prepared.