If you need to replace lost home or car keys, the procedure is quite a bit different than it was 20 or 30 years ago. In the past, you may have had to break down the door of your home. With a car, you may have to break the window. However, today’s cars have security features built into the key and ignition to help prevent theft. While car dealers may say that you should call them for replacement keys, you should be aware that it will be very expensive, and may not happen as quickly as you need. Replacing car keys is a high-profit margin service that car dealers want you to think only they can do.
Today’s automobile locksmiths are right on top of the technology in today’s cars and can replace your keys for a fraction of the cost and usually much quicker too. For example, many Chevrolets use their proprietary Pass Lock theft deterrent system. The way it works is that a sensor in the ignition cylinder “reads” a microchip on the key, makes sure the key is a match for the car, and if so, allows the car to start. If the microchip is damaged or the sensor breaks, you could be faced with being unable to start your car.
Any reputable locksmith should be able to program the lock using specific hardware and software or using a procedure that involves leaving a new key in the “run” position for a period, followed by turning it off, then repeating the process twice more.
Newer GM cars allow locksmiths to access a secure area of the GM website to acquire the key code information, saving time and money. And locksmiths have equipment that lets them produce keys that are even more precisely cut than those made by a dealership. If you get such a key replaced, ask the locksmith for the key code, then write it down and keep it on hand in case you lose your keys again.
Another example of a good auto locksmith being your best friend is in the case of some models of Scion vehicles. Sometimes the plastic key cases break from the simple repetitive motion of twisting it to start the car, and this can break the microchip inside, rendering the key inoperable. Another possibility is that the battery inside the key case has died, and the owner’s manual has instructions for replacing these.
The most common reason for having to call a locksmith is lost car keys. Appropriately qualified automotive locksmiths can replace the keys to virtually any model on the road today, at a fraction of the cost charged by the car dealership. It is always smart to have a second set of keys made even if you don’t need them. Leave them with someone who is trustworthy and easy to reach, and you may be able to avoid an emergency locksmith call.