Wondering where you can get a copy of your car key? There is more than one way to have your keys duplicated, but not every option is equally desirable. Some methods will cost more than you should have to pay, while others could leave you with a car key that doesn’t work. In this article, we’ll lay out the advantages and drawbacks of the most commonly used options and offer some tips to keep you from overpaying for a copy of your key.
Where Can I Get a Copy of My Car Key?
When you need a car key copied, there are three main places you’ll probably think to go. Here’s what you should know about each before you pick one:
Your Car Dealership
A dealership specializing in your car’s make should be able to cut and program a copy of your car key for you; however, there are some good reasons not to go to the dealer. Are you familiar with the advice not to take your car to a dealer for repairs or maintenance because they will charge a higher price than a regular auto repair shop? Well, the same is true for making car key copies. You’ll likely pay significantly more for a car key at a dealership than elsewhere. We’ve heard many tales of customers being quoted prices for key duplication by a dealership that were $50-$200 more than what their local locksmith charged to make the same key.
You’ll also need to make the trip out to the dealership in the first place; unlike a professional locksmith, a dealer won’t come to you. Plus, the dealers won’t always have your specific key in-stock, which means you’ll have to wait for delivery and then still have to tow your vehicle to the dealership if you don’t have a working key.
Hardware Store Kiosk
Many people are familiar with the little automated kiosks in stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s that crank out replicas of basic house keys. These automated kiosks are able to copy some car keys, but with a number of exceptions. While they can copy basic metal car keys, like those that open only a car’s doors and those belonging to vintage cars, they cannot copy most transponder keys. Transponder keys have been in use for decades now and almost any car made in the last 30 years will require a transponder key to start the car. Some kiosks do offer a limited selection of transponder car keys, but after the key is cut, the chip inside it will still need to be programmed to work with your car. Hardware store kiosks do not make copies of keys with buttons on them or keyless entry fobs.
In short, a hardware store machine is not a good choice unless you’re in desparate need of a duplicate key that opens only the car door or trunk. Additionally, these kiosks have no human technician on site. If you need immediate assistance or need to troubleshoot your key, you’re out of luck. When you do call one of these kiosks for service, you’ll be working with a sub-contractor who may or may not be fully trained, rather than a local professional locksmith.
It will be no surprise to you that we think a professional locksmith is the best place to get a copy of your car key, but there are good reasons why you should choose a locksmith. For one, a locksmith will offer a much better price than a dealer, with higher quality and more options than a hardware store kiosk. A good auto locksmith should be able to make a copy of and program any transponder key, remote entry fob, or a keyless entry fob. They will make sure your duplicate key is an exact copy that works and won’t damage your car’s locks or ignition cylinder.
Locksmiths are mobile as well, and are able to come to you. They can also help you with any other car key, door lock, or ignition issue you might have. Perhaps your spare car key stopped working and you think you need a new one; a locksmith may be able to diagnose that you simply need the battery in your transponder key head replaced. You’ll only pay $10 or so to have a basic metal car key duplicated by a locksmith, though transponder key fobs are more expensive and need to be programmed, which adds to the cost of replacing this type of key.
Why It’s Important to Have Copies of Your Car Key
If you’re like me, you got two copies of your car key when you bought the car, then put your extra copy away somewhere “safe” (read: somewhere you’d never find it again). After that, you probably moved apartments or houses once or twice, and now that you haven’t seen it in years, you know you’ve permanently lost that extra key. Why should you bother getting another extra one made? There are lots of reasons to have an extra key, such as:
- You locked yourself out of the car: You may think it will never happen to you, but locksmiths see it all the time, so we know how common it is to get locked out of your car. When this happens, it’s helpful to have an extra key at home or hidden on the outside of your car so that you don’t have to pay for a locksmith to unlock your car door.
- Your primary key is lost or stolen: This also happens more often than you might think. Losing your only copy of the key to your car (or having it stolen) can throw off your whole day–and it only ever seems to happen when it’s least convenient.
- Your primary key breaks or fails: Wear and tear to a key or a damaged door lock or ignition cylinder can cause your car key to bend or break so that it’s unusable. Keys can fail for other reasons too, including a dead battery or water damage to the key head.
Find an Experienced Locksmith to Copy Your Key
So where do you find this auto locksmith who is going to make a copy of your car key for $200 less than the dealership? 1-800-Unlocks is a directory of professional, verified locksmiths. It’s designed as a way for you to easily find certified, insured locksmiths in your area. No matter what state you live in, we have contact information for a trustworthy locksmith near you. Just call 1-800-865-6257 or type your ZIP into the search field on this page.
Call A Verified Locksmith Today
1-800-Unlocks is a peer-reviewed directory of professional locksmiths. When you call, you’ll be connected with a vetted locksmith in your area.