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I’ve lost my car keys – what do I do?

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Updated 7 Apr 2020

Jason Unrau

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Inevitably, it’s when you’re running really late that you can’t find your car keys. You’ve worked up a sweat searching all the usual hiding spots in the house including pulling all the cushions off the couch and digging through your toddler’s toy box.

You’ve even checked in the ignition, thinking perhaps you’ve locked them in the car – not there either.

They’ve simply disappeared without a trace. Awesome.

So what do you do?

Spare Keys

First up, you should always have a spare set of keys. A set for your car, one for your home, one for your bicycle lock – a spare for everything.

Make sure you allocate a safe place you’ll remember to put your spare keys for times such as these because searching for the spares can be equally as frustrating. If you’re resigned to the fact your lost keys may be gone for all eternity, then thankfully your spare set has saved you…but now what? You no longer have a spare.

If you’re resigned to the fact your lost keys may be gone for all eternity, then thankfully your spare set has saved you…but now what? You no longer have a spare.

Have a New Set of Keys Made Immediately

Now that your spare car key is no longer a ‘spare’, you know exactly what’ll happen if you don’t get a replacement spare key ordered or cut: you’ll lose your ‘spare’.

If you only have one key for your car, it’s a priority to get another one made.

Modern car keys have an electronic chip inside for anti-theft purposes and long gone are the days of a key trace costing $10. Instead, a locksmith or dealership will need to cut and program the new key to your vehicle.

Expect a new car key to set you back $200 to $400, maybe more – and that’s for a normal key with a key shaft that goes in the ignition.

If you have a keyless start or push-button start ignition, it’s safe to say getting a new spare key is going to cost you even more!

With the added technology, the integrated door lock buttons, and at times a remote engine starter feature, your keyless ignition (that still needs a key) means a replacement will cost upwards of $500 to $700. Ouch.

No Keys at All?

If your series of unfortunate events doesn’t include a spare key, hug a pillow and weep silently.

The bad news is you’re going to be very late.

The really bad news is it’s going to be expensive.

Mobile Locksmith

At this point, you have only one, maybe two, options.

You won’t be able to start your car, so you can’t drive it somewhere to have another key made. Call a mobile locksmith and see if they can cut and program a new key for your car at your place.

They’ll charge a premium for this service IF they can perform it at all. They might need to order your key into stock, so a delay may be involved. Can your day get any better?

The Dealership

If a locksmith isn’t able to help, you’ll need to head off to the dealership.

Call a tow service to have your car brought in. The dealership’s service department can supply new keys for your car based on your VIN number, and program those keys to your vehicle.

The more advanced your car’s options, the more expensive your keys will cost.

Regardless of who is making you a new set of car keys, make sure you have a spare. If you’ve lost both your original keys, get two made – there’s no point in getting just one and dealing with this all over again if/when you misplace it.

Now, imagine a seamless segue here…

Right. We may not be able to help you find your missing car keys, but AutoGuru.com.au lets you search, compare and book from over 1600 qualified mechanics across Australia. Boom!

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Written By

Jason Unrau

Jason is a Canadian automotive content writer with a background in the auto service industry, but he’s been hooked on cars and mechanics since childhood.

One of his first cars was an ’80 Mazda RX-7 that’s sorely missed to this day. A ’68 Ford Torino GT, a ’66 Ford Country Squire Woodie station wagon, and a ’96 Suzuki GSX-R 750 have spent time in his fleet of cars, bikes, and trucks over the past two decades.

Jason’s pride and joy is under construction – a turbocharged ’88 Mazda RX-7 convertible. Also on his resume is CASCAR official certification.