The Keys to Car Safety
You stare in despair at the shining silvery speck rooted deep in the mire and sludge. You try to snake your hand between the bars, wishing fervently that you could pull it in to safety. What exactly are you staring at? Your car key – the one you just dropped in the sewer grate.
Whether the original has been broken, dropped down a grate, or melted in the fires of Mount Doom there are all sorts of scenarios that might put you in the position of needing to make new car keys for your ignition and doors. Unfortunately, that process can sometimes be quite a hassle.
Obviously, if you find yourself locked out of your car, your first step is to call a professional automotive locksmith. Depending on the time of day, you may need to call a 24/7 emergency locksmith. A locksmith will be able to help you gain entry to the vehicle, extract any broken keys, and possibly make a replacement key.
If you have an older model car, it is a simple matter to make new car keys for your ignition and doors. You can just take an existing key in to a home improvement store or locksmith in your area and pay a few dollars to have duplicate keys made. Making replacement keys for newer cars, however, can be a more difficult matter.
Many modern car keys have transponder chips, microchips embedded in the head of the key. Transponder keys send out radio frequency signals when inserted into the vehicle’s ignition. If your car key has a transponder chip, the ignition will not work unless the car detects the presence of that chip. Thus, you cannot simply make a copy of the key and use it to drive the car; you need to have a copy of the transponder chip as well.
Many cars made since the mid-1990’s use transponder keys. If you know that your car does use a transponder, you should not try to drive the vehicle with any duplicate lacking the necessary microchip. Sometimes, trying to start a car without a key containing the proper transponder can cause the car to stop and require towing.
In order to make new car keys for your ignition and doors on a recent model car, you will usually need to go to the dealership. The dealer will generally need to know your VIN number (and, of course, see proof of ownership) in order to generate a key with the proper transponder chip for your particular vehicle. Your dealer can then sell you a blank key, which you can take to your local locksmith for cutting.
Although transponder keys offer safety features that regular keys do not, unfortunately these safety features make key replacement more expensive. A new transponder key can cost over $100 dollars, although some locksmiths are also capable of making transponder keys and they often charge less than car dealerships. For less than $10, locksmiths can also make you emergency keys that do not contain the necessary transponder. Although these keys cannot be used to drive the vehicle, they can be used to open the vehicle if you lock yourself out.