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What to do if you've lost your car keys

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 1 year ago

5 min read

  • Advice
  • howto
  • what
Hand holding car keys

WhoCanFixMyCar explains the different options available to you if you've lost your car keys

Even if you don’t have a spare key, there’s no need to panic. Here are the basic steps you should follow:

  • Search the area (providing your key has been lost rather than stolen)

  • Check whether your car is open; if it is, look inside

  • Gather information about the vehicle

  • Get a new key from an auto locksmith

  • Make sure you get a spare key cut as well


How car keys work

Getting a replacement key

Should you change the locks on your car?

Lost car key insurance

Lost car key replacement near me

How car keys work

Most car keys actually contain three different methods of unlocking:

  • A mechanical key that releases the steering lock

  • A coded electronic transponder chip that’s read by the car when placed in the ignition

  • A remote control to unlock doors and turn off the alarm

Key programming hero image

Some modern car keys offer keyless entry and remote keyless ignition, so a mechanical key is no longer needed.

Unfortunately, cars that use keyless entry can be more vulnerable to theft. 

Most car remote controls use a radio transmitter which sends a signal to the car. If your remote doesn’t work, try the following:

  • Check whether the battery is flat

  • Try using the remote key closer to the vehicle

  • If all else fails, use your mechanical key if you have one until you can get the remote working again

Getting a replacement key

There are five ways you could potentially get replacement car keys:

  • Using an auto locksmith

  • Car insurance provider

  • Car dealership

  • Breakdown service

  • Local garage

However, the best option is usually to find an auto locksmith who will have all the necessary tools to help you out. Regular garages might not necessarily offer this specialist service.

Whether you’ve lost the keys to your Vauxhall Corsa or it’s a lost Mercedes car key that you need to replace, the process is usually the same. Auto locksmiths are used to being called out to all sorts of different locations, and they can help with:

  • Replacement keys

  • A broken lock

  • A broken key

  • Keys that have been locked inside a vehicle

  • Following a break-in

iStock-car keys

To find an auto locksmith, simply enter your reg number into WhoCanFixMyCar and we’ll connect you with the best mechanics in your area.

Should you change the locks on your car?

This is often one of the most common questions asked by motorists who have lost their keys. The answer is that it depends, firstly on the situation and secondly on the type of car you have.

With modern vehicles that don’t have a manual locking system (e.g. a traditional mechanical key), you’re actually in luck. An auto locksmith should be able to reprogramme your car’s system so that it no longer recognises the old key and only recognises the new one. 

However, if your car has both a remote control and a mechanical key the situation is more complex. Even if your car’s computer system is reprogrammed, anyone who has your old key can still get into the vehicle thanks to its manual locks. 

In this situation you’ll probably want to consider the context surrounding your lost keys. If they were stolen then the thief likely knows which vehicle they belong to and may also be aware of your address. Consequently, you’ll want to have your locks changed to avoid your car being stolen as well. 

On the other hand, if you simply misplaced your keys then changing your locks might not be necessary (though it certainly is advisable). 

Lost car key insurance

Insurance for your car keys might come as part of your existing insurance, or you might be able to add it on at an extra cost. 

This type of cover is worthwhile when you consider the average cost of lock changing and key replacement, which can be well over £400 depending on the vehicle make and model in question.

Check your existing insurance policy to see if you’re already covered. If not, contact your provider to see if this type of insurance is available as an add-on.

Lost car key replacement near me

You need new keys pronto - after all, you rely on your car every day - but how do you find an auto locksmith in your area who’s reliable? That’s where WhoCanFixMyCar comes in. We work with the best mechanics across the country so you don’t have to spend hours searching for them.

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