They say technology is a double-edged sword. In olden times, the car keys used to be simple, turning inside the lock and opening the door. With technology, car keys have emerged as modern types with the highest kind of security, a transponder which acts as a layer of filter, fob keys, switchblades, and smart keys. With each innovation, security has just stepped up, and no one can steal your car as they could in the good old days. On the flip side, if you, by any chance, lose the key, then you are in for a harrowing experience. So, what do you do if you lose your car keys?
So, first of all, do not panic. Try to remember the last time you used the car keys and try to recall where you kept them. Try to check all the usual places where you keep the car keys and remember if you locked the car with the keys inside. Now, if you are confident that you have misplaced the keys, what next?
As they say, prevention is better than cure. So it is always wise to have a spare key set stored safely for such occasions when you first purchase your car. If you have such a spare key, losing your car keys won't be a problem. But what do you do if you don't have a spare key and lose the only one you have? Now that depends on the vehicle you own and the key type.
You can call a locksmith if you have a traditional key that is introduced and turned to open the lock. However, if the duplicate key made by the locksmith doesn't work, you will have to buy a new ignition lock cylinder and key from the automaker. But the duplicate keys usually work because traditional keys and locks work by simple mechanisms that are easy to reproduce and replace. However, the risk remains of the locksmith having a print of your key. From the print, anyone can make a duplicate key and the risk of having your car stolen increases. To avoid this risk, getting the entire lockset changed is more advisable. That way, no one can produce another duplicate key, and it will prove to be a safer option in the long run, even though it may be more expensive than just getting a duplicate key in the short run.
Since the traditional keys' security level was way too low, the upgraded version is the transponder keys. Transponder keys have a radiofrequency transmitter fitted inside them. A similar receiver is located in the computer near the ignition switch. The transponder gives a low-level signal that is detected by the receiver, and it opens only when the exact key is inserted that the receiver is programmed for. A locksmith may be able to produce a new key by replacing the chip corresponding to the transponder, but if he is unable to do so, the car will have to be taken to the dealership to get a duplicate programmed key. This affair is generally much more expensive than replacing the simple traditional key.
If you have a car key fob, generally, the fob and the key are separate. So even if the fob, which locks and unlocks the door, is lost, you can still use the key to open the door and start the car. In case you lose the key, the fob can help you open the car door, and you can get the key replaced by a locksmith or even get the entire lockset replaced. However, if the entire car key assembly is lost, you can still get the key replaced by a locksmith, and you can then buy the fob later. The fob needs to be programmed, which might be more expensive than just replacing the keys. Still, newer versions of car keys have a car key fob with a switchblade key, wherein the key is attached to the fob by a spring mechanism, like a switchblade. If this assembly is lost, it is better to get replaced and programmed from the car dealership.
Some cars have a smart key. A push button starts the car, and this button is programmed to sense the proximity of the key, which is not a key but a sensor. So the start button can work only if the key or the sensor is closed. This type of key yields the highest level of security because if the key is not near the car, the start button will never function. But if the sensor key is lost, there is no way to start the car. Just like in the case of the transponder keys, you will have to tow the car to the dealership and get a new key; the programming of the new key will have to be done at the car dealership. The cost of this is much more, and as safe as this type of key is, it is vital not to lose it, as it can be a troublesome experience to resolve the issue.
If your car insurance policy has the add-on facility of car key insurance, it will help you to cover the costs in case you lose the car keys. This feature is essential, especially when your car has modern keys such as the smart key, which can otherwise make replacing the car key an expensive affair.
To summarise, what you need to do if you ever lose car keys depends on the type of car and the type of car key. And once again, prevention is better than cure, so it is a good practice to have a fixed place for car keys and make it a habit to keep car keys in that place only when not in use.