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Lost your car keys and don’t have a spare? Here’s what to do

December 16, 2022 by

Ever since the car first that had a key came along, lost car keys have become a burden of life. No matter how careful you try to be, the day will inevitably come for most of us when they go missing.

If you’ve lost them for good, and you don’t have access to a spare, you do have some options. Read on for what to do if you lose your car keys.

What to do if you’ve lost your car keys

1. Check your insurance covers lost keys

Before anything, you should check if you can claim the cost of lost keys on your car insurance. Many providers offer this, and it often works out much cheaper than paying the full price yourself.

2. Got breakdown cover? Contact your provider

If you have breakdown cover, your provider can send someone out to help you get back into your car. This is especially handy if you’ve locked the keys inside your car.

Some providers also offer mobile key-cutting services, meaning you can get a new set without having to leave your car unattended.

3. Contact a franchised dealer

If you want an OEM replacement key, it’s best to get in touch with a dealer for your car’s manufacturer. This doesn’t often come cheaply or quickly. However, you’ll get a like-for-like new key — as well as programming for features like a hands-free boot release if your original key had those.

4. Speak with a local specialist locksmith

Specialist automotive locksmiths are another option. You’ll likely get a blank, generic key but these can still be programmed for your car. These locksmiths will also usually be able to disable the old key, meaning whoever finds it can’t just steal your car.

What do you need to get a replacement car key?

You’ll need proof of identity such as a driving licence, and evidence that you own the car before having a new key cut. A V5C form with your name on it is usually an accepted proof of ownership, even if all it technically shows is who is responsible for registering a car.

How much does it cost to replace lost car keys?

The cost of replacing a car key varies wildly. More complex cars with keyless entry and other functions will typically have more expensive keys than older, simpler cars. Most cars have electronic immobilisers built into their keys, whereby a code is sent and received from the car to the key, to check authenticity; this is in addition to the remote central locking function, and the physical key itself.

Programming a new key takes expert knowledge and specialist equipment, which is partly why getting a new car key made up is more expensive than getting a new house key. Think of something in the region of a £300 ballpark – though you may be able to pay less, or may need to pay much more.

FAQs: Lost car keys

How long does it take to make a replacement car key?

Physically producing a key can be done in as little as 20 minutes by a trained locksmith. However, the process of obtaining an OEM replacement key can take much longer through a dealer — potentially weeks.

How do you program a replacement car key?

You can usually find the exact method of programming a replacement key for your car in the owners’ or service manual.

Is there any way to track down a lost car key?

Unless your car key has a tracker installed (which is rare out of the factory) or had a separate one attached, there’s no way of tracking them.

Will I have to change my car locks if my keys are lost?

No: an effective key-cutting professional will be able to programme a key so it unlocks and deactivates the car’s immobiliser, vehicle, while also physically cutting the metal key so it fits your locks and ignition.

What should I do if my car keys have been stolen?

If you are certain the keys have been stolen rather than mislaid, contact the police and your insurance company, while also calling out an automotive locksmith or an official dealer from your brand of car to seek their input. It is possible that only the dealer will be able to reprogramme the car so it does not recognise the original, now stolen key.