How to Replace Lost Car Keys

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Replacing your car keys isn’t as simple and inexpensive as it used to be. New, high-tech car keys with fobs to lock and unlock the doors, or smart keys that unlock and start your car right from your pocket, can be costly to replace. If you need to replace lost car keys, there are three options available to you, as this article outlines.

Replace the Keys Yourself

Step 1: Get the vehicle identification number (VIN), make, model, and year of your car. The VIN is stamped on the dash on the driver’s side. The make, model, and year of your car is listed on the car’s title and registration.
Step 2: Go online to find a replacement key with a fob or a keyless remote fob that will work in your car.
  • Tip: If you are one of those rare people who still owns an older car with a plain old key, all you have to do is head over to the local locksmith with your VIN, car registration or title, and driver’s license. They may be able to cut the key for you for $10 to $20.
Step 3: Determine if you can program your new key fob or keyless remote fob before you order it. You can check your car manual or call a locksmith to see if they can help. They may do the programming for you for a small fee.
Step 4: Order your key fob or keyless remote fob. Program it yourself after it arrives or have the locksmith program it for you.
Programming instructions may be included with your new purchase.

Call the Dealership

Step 1: Get your car’s VIN, make, model, and year.
Step 2: Call the dealership where you bought the car. If you bought the car from a private party or bought it from a used car lot, call a local new car dealership that sells the same make as yours.
  • Tip: If your fob or smart key isn’t working, try replacing the battery. You can get replacement batteries at the car dealership, online, or in electronics stores.
Step 3: Let them know what type of key you need to replace. They will probably take your information and the details on your car and order the replacement key.
The dealership may also require you to come in and order the key in person after showing your driver’s license and the title or registration.
Plan to spend at least $100 for a replacement key with a fob, smart key, or transponder. High-end vehicle replacement keys could easily cost $600 to $1,000. If your car is under warranty, check the policy to see if replacement keys are covered.
Step 4: Take your car’s title or registration with you to pick up your replacement key.

Call a Locksmith

Step 1: Get your car’s VIN, make, model, and year.
Step 2: Call local locksmiths for estimates. Let them know all of the details of your situation and find out how much they will charge to replace the key.
  • Tip: You may have to reset your key fob or keyless entry fob after replacing the battery in your car. Consult your owner’s manual for instructions.
Step 3: Do a little research on the locksmith. Go online and look up the locksmiths that you called. Check for reviews or ratings on their service and reliability.
Step 4: Set up an appointment for the locksmith to do the work. They will go to where the car is to do the work. Schedule the appointment for a day and time when you know you can be there.
Attaching a keychain is a good way to add some bulk to your key, making it more noticeable if it falls out of your pocket or purse. A wristlet is also handy for storing your keys and keeping your hands free.

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