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You lost your car key – now what?


There’s no doubt that losing your car keys, or the keyless remote fob, can be a frustrating and stressful experience – especially if there isn’t a spare nearby.

This can also be a surprisingly expensive situation to deal with too.

However, it is important to remain calm and take action to minimise the impact of the lost keys.

Here, the Carvine team looks at what to do if you have lost your car key.

Our article covers a range of topics such as how to find a replacement key, how to contact a locksmith, and what to do if you are locked out of your car.

By following the steps outlined, you can deal with the inconvenience and stress of losing your car keys.

How to find a replacement car key?

If you have lost your car key, the first step is to try and find a replacement key. If you have a spare key, you can use this to access your car.

If you do not have a spare key, you may be able to order a replacement key from your local dealership or locksmith.

In some cases, you may need to have your car towed to the dealership to get a replacement.

If your need is urgent, then it’s time to contact a locksmith to unlock your car because they tend to be mobile and can come to you.

Buy a new car key from the dealer

Although this option is the most expensive and time-consuming, you will receive a replacement key for unlocking your car on the first attempt.

However, you should expect to spend more than £200, and waiting times could be up to 10 working days – this will depend on whether the dealership has the required tools and knowledge.

How to contact a car locksmith

A cheaper – and often quicker – solution is to contact a car locksmith who can create a new key for your car using the existing locks.

This process is typically more expensive than ordering a replacement key from a dealership, but it may be the only option if you do not have a spare key.

Or if you need to get into your car quickly.

The locksmith will be able to deal with any sort of motor vehicle, including a car, van, truck, or motorcycle.

One of the best ways is to get in touch with a local Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) recognised locksmith if you need a spare car key cut or your remote car key programmed.

What will the locksmith need to know?

When contacting a locksmith, they will need to know some details, including:

  • The model and make of the car
  • Your vehicle’s registration number
  • Your vehicle’s identification number (VIN) – this is detailed in your logbook or V5C
  • Some personal identification information with a photo and your address – so the locksmith will know that it is your car they are about to open.

It would also help if you know what the postcode is of where your car is so the locksmith can find you easily.

What type of car key have you lost?

There are two types of car key – either remote keys or non-remote keys which are also known as transponder keys.

Remote car keys

Your remote car key is likely to be one of three types:

A remote fob with key

The remote is used to unlock and turn off the car alarm and then used to start the vehicle.

Remote entry fob that has an integrated key

Again, the remote part will unlock the car’s doors, turn off the immobiliser and alarm and the driver will use the key for starting the car.

Remote keyless fob

If yours is a keyless car you will have a fob for opening and starting it. You may not know, but the keyless fob will have a hidden key to use in an emergency to unlock the car.

Non-remote transponder key

Most cars that were built after 1995 will have a key with a transponder chip that has been programmed to your car.

They don’t offer remote central locking or any other remote-control functions.

So, if your car key is lost or broken, you won’t be able to start the car and you will need a replacement transponder chip.

How much do replacement car keys cost?

The price for a replacement car key will vary but will range from £25 to more than £500. The cost depends on:

  • The car model
  • How old the car is
  • If it has an immobiliser
  • Was the key made before 1995 without a chip?
  • If it is a remote key fob
  • If the fob is keyless entry.

Find a quote for replacing lost car keys

The MLA recommends that you get at least three quotes when you want to replace your lost car keys.

And one of those quotes should be from a local car locksmith because they tend to be cheaper than a quote from a dealership.

You should also check your car insurance policy to see if lost car keys are covered – and whether your excess will cover the replacement cost. See below for more.

Other solutions – do you have a breakdown service? Call them!

It’s also worth contacting your breakdown service if you have lost a key.

Some breakdown services offer a mobile key replacement scheme, and, in most cases, the subscription you pay will cover this service.

This approach works well for drivers who live in remote areas where there aren’t as many specialised mobile car locksmiths – and it will be quicker and less expensive than going to a dealership.

Claim on your car insurance policy

Some insurers include key cover as part of their regular policies, which should save you the cost of paying for a replacement.

The service offered might range from simply replacing the key, to a comprehensive package that might include getting a rental car while you wait for your car to be fixed, depending on your insurer and the level of coverage you pay for.

Just remember to read the policy’s small print because it might be a better idea to keep your insurance premiums low by forking out for a replacement key – since a claim may have an impact on your no claims discount.

Top tips to help you avoid losing your keys

To avoid losing your car keys, here are our top tips to help you and protect your car from being stolen – and avoid the hassle when you lose them.

Get a spare car key cut: Save money by getting a spare car key cut from a key-cutting outlet. You can also find locksmiths online who are willing to cut car keys. By doing so, you’ll have a spare key to hand should you lose yours.

Keep your key hidden: When out and about, keep your car key hidden – and when at home. Burglars and car thieves will be tempted to steal the car keys and your car if you leave them in plain sight.

Get a spare when buying: Always ask for a spare key from a dealer or private seller. It saves you the time and expense of having to get a spare cut.

Keyrings: Never put more than one car key on a keyring. Lose the keyring and you will lose all of your car keys.

FAQs about losing a car key

I have lost my only car key

If you have lost your only car key, a car locksmith can provide you with a replacement key – and program the key to open your vehicle.

How long will getting a new key take?

The answer on how long it will take to get a new car key will depend on:

  • The key type -that is whether it is a transponder, keyless entry or a remote fob
  • The car model
  • Whether your key is in stock.

Usually, a car locksmith or a dealership will be able to resolve your lost key problem on the same day. Dealers may take longer, depending on whether they have the blank keys in stock.

You lost your car key – now what?

Losing your car key can certainly be frustrating, but there are steps you can take to ease the pain.

If you have a spare key, use that to access your car.

If you don’t have a spare, you can try ordering a replacement from your local dealership or locksmith.

In some cases, you may need to have your car towed to the dealership to get a replacement key for your vehicle.

If you can’t find a replacement key, you’ll need to contact a locksmith who can create a new key using the existing locks.

This process is often more expensive than ordering a replacement key from a dealership, but it may be your only option if you don’t have a spare available.

Marketing Director at Skyemotion Ltd
As marketing director, Paul is largely responsible for Carvine’s online presence and underwriting along FCA compliance.

At Carvine, we pride ourselves as a team of impartial vehicle finance experts that will direct you through the easy application process. As a result, our dedicated team put you in control of one of life’s biggest buying decisions. Consequently, we are all you need to finance your vehicle.

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Paul Thompson