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Car Key Replacement Charlotte

How to Get a Car Key Replacement: A Step-by-Step Guide

Do you frequently lose your keys? You’re not alone! In fact, the average American spends 2.5 days a year looking for lost items! 

If you’ve looked everywhere and are ready to give up, you’ll want to know just what goes into getting a car key replacement. While it’s not super difficult, it does require some effort. 

Your options will vary depending on the kind of vehicle you have and how old it is. However, the following five steps will get you taken care of no matter what. 

1. Get Your VIN

To get a new car key, you’ll need to have your vehicle identification number (VIN). This is a 17-digit number/letter combination that is unique to each vehicle produced. The VIN is the official form of identification for all modern vehicles. 

The VIN is usually found on a sticker located on your dashboard down by the bottom of the windshield. Sometimes, it’s located on the vehicle’s engine instead. Other places the VIN might be located include:

  • On the rear wheel well
  • On the inside of the door jam
  • In the trunk
  • On the car frame between the windshield washer and the carburetor.

If you can’t find it, check your auto insurance policy or the vehicle’s title. Your  VIN should be listed on both of these documents. Note that vehicles made before 1954 don’t have a VIN number, so don’t waste your time looking for it. 

You’ll also need to know the year, make, and model of your vehicle.

2. Call an Automotive Locksmith

The next thing you’ll want to do is find a great automotive locksmith. This option will be much less expensive than if you end up having to get a key from the dealer or from the vehicle’s manufacturer.

Some locksmiths will only be able to handle the types of simple keys that are commonly found in older, non-luxury vehicles. However, a top-notch professional should be able to deal with modern makes and models.

This requires more advanced technology including equipment that can cut side-milled keys and programming equipment for transponders.

Unfortunately, sometimes codes are etched into the keys which makes it very difficult to replicate them. Advanced programming may also pose a problem for locksmiths. 

3. Check Your Car Insurance or Vehicle Warranty

Some keys are too complex for even the best locksmiths to deal with. For example, a locksmith may be able to make the key but won’t have the capability to program it. In this case, you might have to take your new key to the dealership for programming.

This is more expensive but will usually still be less than getting a new key from the dealership. 

If you have a newer car, you might be able to get a discount or even a free key through your vehicle insurance or your warranty. Check them both carefully before moving on to the next step.

4. Reach Out to the Dealership (If Necessary)

If your locksmith has told you that they can’t complete the key replacement process for you, you’ll likely have no choice but to reach out to the dealership.

In the case of some very high-end cars, even the dealership won’t be able to get you a new key. If this applies to you, then you’ll have to order a replacement key from the vehicle manufacturer. This is the most expensive option and will likely take a week to two weeks before it arrives.

In some cases, the dealership may be able to work with the manufacturer to get you a discount. This is more likely if you go back to the dealership where you originally bought the vehicle. Of course, a discount isn’t guaranteed, but it’s worth asking.

5. Consider Security and Reliability

There are other options for car key replacement that might be less expensive than the ones listed above. However, there are some risks you need to consider that go beyond money.

For example, you may be able to buy a replacement key fairly inexpensively online through websites like eBay or even Amazon. You can search for “aftermarket car keys” and get one for far less than you would usually pay at a dealership. However, you run into potential security issues when you do this.

Some vehicles also allow you to reprogram a key yourself. Usually, this is done through a series of steps like turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, and turning other electronics on and off. Essentially, you’re creating a code that programs the key.

The instructions for re-coding your keys can usually be found in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. While this isn’t difficult to do, it’s often safer to trust this important task to a professional.

In some cases, a breach in security can be just as catastrophic as an engine failure. So, it’s best not to leave it up to chance.

Need a Car Key Replacement? Give Us a Call!

If you find yourself needing a car key replacement, don’t panic! While it’s no fun to deal with, a great locksmith can make it easy.

Before you call, check out our handy reference guide so you’re prepared to get the best service possible. Then contact us online or give us a call at 704-455-6707. We’re happy to help you replace your lost car keys so you can get back on the road right away.