You’re late for work, or for that appointment, running out the door and… where’s your car keys?
Sometimes it’s just a second of panic, you see the keys on the shelf or find them in a coat pocket. Though sometimes you’ve searched and just know they’re gone for good. It’s annoying and expensive enough to get your house keys replaced, or even the locks, but what about your car key? What if it’s not even a key? Is it just a lump of plastic that magically unlocks and starts your car for you? How do you replace those?
We’ve made a comprehensive guide below so you know exactly what to do if you’ve lost your car keys, no matter which kind you’ve got.
Who to call
When you lose a car key there’s two immediate options. An auto locksmith, or your cars dealership. Locksmiths can be very handy in a pinch. They’ll often have a mobile service and can come to your car to make a new key right there and then with the equipment in the van. The prices for this can vary, and a lot depends on what key you need replaced. Sometimes though if your key is ultra modern they might not be able to help. That’s where your car dealership might be a better call. They’ll likely be more expensive than an auto locksmith, but they’ll be guaranteed to be able to replace your key for you.
Types of keys:
- Traditional Car key: The oldest and simplest car key. Just a plastic handle and a lump of metal with grooves etched into it. This is the easiest and cheapest key to replace, about €50. But less and less cars on the road these days use it as it’s not very safe.
- Car key Fob: This a key fob without the metal ignition key attached. Sometimes they’re only used to unlock your and sometimes they slot into a section of you dash to start your car. Even though it’s added technology they’re quite cheap to replace at about €15. Often you can reprogram them yourself with your car manual.
- Switchblade key: Possibly the most common kind of car key. Your key swivels out like a switchblade and you can insert it into the car. They have the features of a car key fob and a regular key combined, so expect to combine the prices of the two as well or slightly more. They’re still not very difficult to find replacements for, especially from dedicated auto locksmiths.
- Transponder key: Now we’re starting to get into the higher tech and anti-theft area of keys. Unfortunately this means more expensive too. These keys are mini computers. They wirelessly pair with the computer in your car when you try to unlock or start it and swap secret codes so only that key can unlock your car. They’ll often come in the form of a switchblade key so it can be hard to know which you have. They’re very secure but get pricey to replace, usually above €100. These days many Auto Locksmiths can replace these too.
- Smart key: The most futuristic and expensive key. These keys are getting much more common and don’t usually look like a key. They might just be a lump of plastic with buttons. It unlocks your car as you walk up to it and you just press a button to start the car. They key stays in your pocket the whole time. Sometimes, like on a tesla, there is no key, your phone unlocks your car for you. Your car is very safe with this technology but they key isn’t cheap to replace. You may have no choice to but to go to the cars dealership to get this type of key replaced, which may cost you hundreds of euro.
No matter which key you have, or even if you’re not sure, we’d still recommend you call an Auto Locksmith first for the best chance at paying a fair price. If you really want a branded original key, go with your dealership.
If you’ve lost your keys kayaking in Keem bay, or dropped them into an industrial grinder (somehow!) you should be safe simply replacing the keys. If you think they keys might have been stolen, or could end up in the wrong hands you might look at replacing more than just they keys. Replacing door locks and ignition cylinder can be expensive, even more so if you have to fully reprogram your car at a dealership. It can be worth the money though to prevent the whole car from disappearing from your driveway one morning.
How to avoid losing keys
Find a safe spot
make it a habit of putting your keys down in one safe spot every time you get home, this will make rushing out the doors that bit easier with less panic. If you’re going on an adventure make sure to keep the keys somewhere safe where they can’t fall out. At the bottom of the rucksack and not your back jeans pocket.
Attach a tracker
There’s plenty of discreet and small trackers these days to attach to key rings. They’ll even alert you if you’ve left them behind before you even notice. With GPS technology you’ll be able to find your way back to them in no time.
Have a spare
Save the expense of a locksmith and keep a spare set at home. Most cars come with two or even three sets of keys. If you aren’t worried your keys are in bad hands you can chalk up the lost set to life and go about using the spare key.
Minimal isn’t always best
Lots of people hate the feeling of having multiple bulky keys jammed in their pockets, or fallen to the bottom of an already heavy handbag, but there’s something to be said for it too. It’s a lot easier to lose a single small key than it is to lose a set of 10 different keys plus keychains and pendants. Find your own middle ground for key chain or key ring so its that bit easier to find in a blind panic.
Hopefully you never lose your keys, and never need to replace them. But if you do you know how to go about getting a fresh set.