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Car Care Advice

How to Get a Car Replacement Key (Plus Reasons You’d Need It & Costs)

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Struggling to open your car door or noticing a chipped key are early signs that you’ll need a car replacement key. 

If ignored, you may soon be locked out of your car, left waiting for automotive locksmith services. 

How do you get a replacement key?

In this article, we’ll take you through getting a car key replacement by detailing the types of car keys and when you’d need the replacement. We’ll also explore where to get key replacement service, how long it’ll take, and how much it’ll cost.

In This Article:

Let’s go!

What Are The Car Key Types (And What To Do For A Replacement)?

Here are common types of car keys with details about their replacement:

1. Traditional Car Key

The traditional key is a mechanical car key that’s common for older car models. It doesn’t have specialized encoding, so a locksmith can easily cut it with a car key duplication machine.

If you lose it:
Call an automotive locksmith. These keys can be made on the spot, so you won’t be waiting long for a replacement car key. 

But for some vehicles, a locksmith may be unable to create a new key cutting. So, you’ll probably need to buy a new ignition lock cylinder and key.

2. Car Key Fob

Many car keys come with a detachable key fob (often called remote head keys.) This key fob has an internal transmitter that enables a keyless entry system, like a keyless entry remote or remote key.

If you lose it:
If you lose the fob, you’ll still be able to enter the car using the key. Moreover, you can buy a replacement key fob online and program it yourself using your vehicle’s manual.

But if you lose the key, you’ll need to involve a locksmith or car dealership.

3. Car Key Fob And Switchblade Key

The newer version of the detachable key fob is the fob with a switchblade key. The key is spring-loaded in the fob and folds out when triggered.

If you lose it:
Go to your car dealership since they’ll be able to cut the key and program the fob on-site. 

4. Transponder Key

Transponder keys have a plastic head embedded with a computer chip that enables a wireless connection between your key and the car. Without this connection, the ignition won’t engage.

If you lose it:
If you don’t have a spare key, you’ll need a tow to a car dealer, where you can purchase a new key and have your car paired with the new computer chip.

5. Smart Key

The smart key allows for a keyless ignition system. 

It usually comes with cars that have a start button and a proximity sensor to detect the smart key. This allows you to unlock and start the vehicle.

If you lose it:
If you don’t have a duplicate car key, get a tow to your car dealership. Once you get a new car key, the dealership will pair it with your vehicle.

6. Laser Cut Key

A laser cut key (sidewinder key) is a distinct key that has a thicker shank than a traditional key. It has a unique pattern that increases your vehicle’s security but makes it harder to duplicate. It even comes with a transponder to prevent unauthorized ignition. 

If you lose it:
If you don’t have a spare key, you’ll need to get a tow to a car dealer. They’ll cut out a new key and program the transponder chip. Moreover, it’s unlikely that a commercial locksmith will have the machines required to create laser cut keys, so a dealership is your best bet. 

Now that you know the types of car keys, let’s explore the situations where you could require a car key replacement.

When Would I Need A Car Replacement Key?

Here are reasons why you may require a car key replacement service:

1. Stolen Or Lost Car Key

A common reason for requiring a key replacement is a stolen or lost car key.

In such cases, it’s helpful to have a duplicate car key. However, if that’s out of reach, you’ll need to call a professional locksmith or get a tow to a car dealer. If the key doesn’t need any programming, any mobile locksmith could cut the key for you on the spot.

2. Broken Key

Interestingly, most car keys break because they’re used on the wrong lock. It can also happen if the car key is jammed in the lock and breaks because of excessive force.

Regardless, you should promptly seek a locksmith service to replace the broken key without delay.

3. Damaged Car Key

Car keys are prone to wear, so it’s common for them to become bent, cracked, or damaged. But even if it’s a bent or chipped key, you should seek a key replacement service before you’re locked out of your car.

4. Damaged Car Locks

A damaged car lock could be because of incorrect key use, forced openings (during attempted thefts), or even accidental damage.

And even if the lock isn’t ruined beyond use, a damaged lock can wear out your key — resulting in car key failure.

So, it’s best to consult an automotive locksmith if you’re struggling with opening the car lock. 

5. Broken Key Extraction

If the car key is caught in the lock, whether broken or not, you should call a professional locksmith to extract the key. Trying it on your own could break or damage the key and the lock since even a professional locksmith can’t guarantee a safe extraction.

Still, your best bet for a broken key extraction is a qualified locksmith agency since they’ll be familiar with the lock and have contingencies to overcome further damage.

6. Malfunctioning Key Fob

Malfunctioning key fobs or transponders can obstruct keyless entry. And if you don’t have a duplicate car key, you could be locked out of your car. 

You’ll need to get a replacement fob or transponder and have it programmed to your car.

Now, let’s assess your options for getting the new car key. 

Where Can I Get a Replacement Key for My Car?

You typically have two options for a car key replacement:

You’ll also need to keep certain documents on hand, like:

Now, let’s look at how long you’ll be locked out of your car. 

How Long Can It Take To Get a Car Replacement Key?

The time it takes to get a replacement key can depend on the type of car key you have:

Finally, let’s look at how much it costs to get a replacement car key:

How Much Does a Car Replacement Key Cost?

The cost of getting a replacement key can range from $50 to over $500, depending on the car key you need.

So, here are estimates for the cost of getting a replacement key or lock:

Note: These estimates can vary based on the car locksmith or dealer’s labor rate and aren’t inclusive of towing charges. 

Final Thoughts

Getting a car key replacement isn’t hard once you know what to do when the situation arrives. Just remember, it’s important to have a spare key in case of key trouble.

Moreover, it is as prudent to address the situation promptly as it is to address any other car repairs.

Luckily for repairs, you have RepairSmith — an easily accessible mobile auto repair service

With us, you also get convenient online bookings and expert technicians who perform repairs with the high quality parts and tools. We’re also available 24/7 and offer a 12-month | 12,000-mile warranty.

Get in touch with us for all your maintenance and repair needs.