Losing your car keys seems like a pretty typical occurrence. While nearly everyone has misplaced their keys at one time or another, completely losing the keys such that you have no way to unlock or drive your car is a different sort of problem. Without the original key it is difficult, but not impossible, to make a spare that will help you unlock and drive the vehicle again.
A Few Different Scenarios
Okay, so you could have lost the key entirely. You could have also locked your keys in the trunk. Maybe the key was so worn it broke off in the lock in the car door. Whatever the scenario, there is a way to fix this and create a new key.
The Broken Key Scenario
A qualified automotive locksmith will need to extract the piece of broken car key from the lock. This takes time, but it is actually one of the easiest ways to create a new key. It is also necessary to remove the broken piece of key or you will never be able to lock and unlock your doors again.
Once the broken piece is removed, the car locksmith puts it with the other piece of key (if you have it). Then he/she takes an impression of the teeth of the pieces of the key. This is a vital step to recreating the teeth that move tumblers inside your car’s lock and the ignition.
The impression is used to help the locksmith measure the teeth and the distances between the teeth. Sometimes a vehicle manufacturer publishes the distances between teeth, which the locksmith can look up and use to gauge the old key in order to make the car key replacement. Then he/she will test it in the lock or ignition. As long as it doesn’t stick and it turns, the new key is complete. If it does stick, the locksmith determines what tooth or teeth of the key are having problems and then files those a little more.
Keys Locked in a Tricky Trunk and/or Damaged Lock Scenario
In this scenario, you may be thinking, “Well, if the keys are in the trunk, the locksmith can just unlock the trunk and get them out, right?” Sure, that makes sense, except when the trunk is a very tricky lock, has a damaged car lock, and refuses to open for anything but the original key and a lot of manipulation.
In this case, the locksmith has to use a special set of lock picks to determine how the tumblers inside the lock are set up. When he figures it out, he writes down each little tooth and distance and then sets his key cutter to those numbers. A blank (i.e., uncut key) is inserted and the machine is turned on. The duplicate key is cut and lightly filed. Then you can get those keys back out of the trunk and have a spare just in case.
Completely and Utterly Lost Keys Scenario
Once upon a time, losing your car keys meant much more than replacement lost car keys. It could have meant replacing the locks and the ignition completely, or paying a dealership to order a new key based on the make and model of your vehicle. If you did the latter, it was usually a makeshift “skeleton” car key that could open the door and start the car, but not without the occasional difficulty of the fake copy not working correctly.
Cars and car keys are much more advanced now. In fact, car manufacturers have made it possible to get replacement keys easier via three different routes. One, you look on the inside door panel to see the keycode, and from that a locksmith looks up the keycode online and transfers the key’s coding and tooth measurements to his/her key cutting machine.
Two, you can get a key made just on the VIN number alone. This often surprises people because a VIN number is usually only associated with the history of the vehicle. However, car manufacturers have a lot of online publications and information just for locksmiths that allow spare keys to be made simply by typing in the VIN from your vehicle.
Three, when you have a key fob that wirelessly opens the door to your vehicle, but you have lost the key fob, replacements can be ordered through a dealership that sells your make and model of car. A locksmith can do this for you, but you can also go directly to the dealership and request it. The new key may or may not need to be programmed to meet the locking data in your car’s on-board computer, but the person who sells you the replacement key fob will let you know if that’s necessary.
All in One Locksmith is able to do all of the above services for you. If you have any of the above misfortunes with your car keys, call All in One Locksmith in Tampa Bay today, or visit our website to fill out a service call request form.