Losing anything important is always a cause of inconvenience. Lost keys pose very specific challenges. Lost car keys, in particular, can create major hiccups in not only one’s daily routine, but also in one’s bank account. Although many individuals would rather trust that they will never be the ones to lose the keys to their vehicle, avoiding the issue altogether until they are directly faced with the consequences, it is important to consider the steps of replacing lost car keys, in the event that it unexpectedly occurs one day. Being aware of what obtaining replacement keys entails, as well as identifying some simple methods of avoiding the possibility in the first place, will help you to be prepared under any and all conditions, and can likely help to save money and encourage peace of mind.
Unlike regular house locks, whose keys can either be simply reproduced or which can be changed by a locksmith to accommodate an entirely new set of keys, car keys are often specific to makes and models. In addition, many newer car models feature electronic or transponder chip technology, so that even if the key is accurately reproduced, it will not start the car’s engine without the correct data and codes having first been implemented. As a result, the process to replace lost car keys is often involved, challenging and expensive. Here are some of the DOs and DONTs for addressing the eventuality of lost car keys.
DO: Always have a spare set of keys in a safe and easy-to-remember location. If you have a spare set of keys in your home or being kept by a trusted friend, you will have an immediate means of accessing and using your vehicle. You should still have a spare key made, to replace the emergency key, but you will not need to have the process expedited, and will therefore likely save yourself a lot of money and hassle.
DO: Create a means of having your keys returned to you in the event that they are found. You should never include your name or address on your keys, since that information could be abused when in the wrong hands; however organizations such as AAA often provide coded key fobs that allow keys to simply be dropped in a mailbox by anyone who finds them. For this convenience, you will generally be required to pay an annual membership fee, but with that fee will likely come many additional assurances, and if you do lose your keys, your savings will be considerable.
DO: Have an extra key made if your new car only comes with one. Some new vehicles are not sold with more than one set of keys. In this case, consider having a duplicate made immediately. You may even be able to get a deal directly from the dealership if you have a duplicate set made at the time of your purchase.
DO: Ensure that your vehicle identification number (VIN) and license and registration information are on file in a secure place, and that your only copies of these important documents are not locked inside your car. In the event that you do need to have new keys fashioned for your vehicle, you will be required to provide the above-listed information to the manufacturer, the dealer or the locksmith.
DO: Consider a quick an easy product to double check that your keys aren’t simply mislaid rather than lost. One option is a key finder that incorporates a credit card sized transmitter that you carry round with you. You also attach a receiver to your key fob, which will emit a beeping sound and set off a flashing light when the transmitter is activated. This makes it easy to find your keys if they’re hidden in a drawer, down the back of the sofa or in the pocket you’ve already checked a hundred times.
DO: Do adequate research before making a final decision on where to have your replacement keys made. Replacement keys will always incur an expense, no matter where you go; however it is likely that a dealership will charge more than an independent locksmith. Be sure to investigate all of your options before making a final decision, to ensure that you are getting the best deal.
DON’T: Submit sensitive information to a locksmith before conducting some form of background check. Ensure that the locksmith has a solid reputation and is a reliable and responsible holder of sensitive information such as your vehicle identification number.
DON’T: Wait until the last minute to come up with a back-up plan. It is often possible to expedite key reproduction services, but not without a considerable financial investment. Waiting until the last moment to deal with a situation like lost car keys will inevitably result in high levels of stress and inconvenience, and can be unnecessarily expensive. Thinking ahead will give you peace of mind and will likely save you considerable hassle.
Although no one wants to imagine that they will be the ones to lose their vehicle keys, it is a common enough occurrence that numerous resources exist to assist individuals through the replacement process. While these resources are generally convenient and helpful, they also recognize that unprepared individuals are willing to pay premium prices for last-minute services. Understanding some of the precautionary measures listed above, and the steps for how to replace lost car keys, will give you a considerable advantage in this regard.