Car Key Cutting

Getting your car key cut is really the second step in getting your replacement keys in your hand, and you back on the road. This is typically not a do-it-yourself job, as it requires proper machinery that is specifically meant for key cutting. So rather than show you how to cut your own key, we are going to look at the various places you can go to get these services done for you.

Key Blank

Hardware Stores
This was probably not a surprise to any of you. Hardware stores have provided key cutting services for a long time, and many of you have probably needed to take a trip to the hardware store already. One of the problems with getting your car key cut at a hardware store is that they will likely not be able to program your key for you if it contains a transponder chip, or if it is a laser cut key. But if you are someone who’s vehicle does not require this special attention, getting your car key cut at the hardware store is a no-brainer as it is a quick and cheap win. For those of you who have never had to get a key cut before, here are a few chain hardware stores that will perform the services:

Home Depot
Ace Hardware
True Value

Many local hardware stores should be able to provide similar services as the chain stores above. Also, since you are only getting the key cut here and not likely programmed, hardware stores should provide the least expensive route.

One thing of importance to note, it has been the experience of some that hardware stores won’t always cut vehicle keys, but rather will only perform these services for house keys. I just want to say that has not been the experience of this author. So to stay on the safe side, call ahead and find out before making the trip.

A local locksmith is another easy place to get cutting services. Some of these locksmith companies will even perform mobile cutting services, so that you don’t have to hitch a ride after losing the only key to your vehicle. This makes it fairly convenient. Most locksmiths should also have the expertise necessary to program the key for you, or may even just let you know how you can program it yourself. Remember that you will likely be paying for this expertise, which is why a hardware store remains a less expensive venue.

Again, no surprise here. But if you do any searching online, you’ll quickly find that the dealership is the place most people try to avoid, as they tend to charge exorbitant prices. That’s higher costs on the key blank, the key cutting and the programming. You will also have to go to them, unlike a mobile locksmith service. However despite these downfalls, you are likely to get your car key cutting and replacement needs all taken care of at the dealership.

Coming Soon…Online Key Cutting?
Now this might be a new one for a lot of you out there. The online world continues to evolve the way we do anything in the real world. Car key cutting is no exception. There are two specific online services I would want to make mention of, both coming from LifeHacker.

KeyMe is a service that makes it so you do not necessarily have to have an original key to get your car keys cut. By taking a front and back picture of your key with your smartphone, KeyMe stores your “spare key” cut, which they call your digital keychain. So when you need a replacement key, you can simply find one of their kiosks, or order the key online to get it made and mailed to you. Currently KeyMe seems to only work for house keys, but if right now you are only trying to get your key cut, auto keys should be just around the corner.

Keys Duplicated
Keys Duplicated is another service that provides online key cutting. Much like KeyMe, the Keys Duplicated app lets you take two pictures of your key (front and back) with your smartphone and they will send you a physical copy of the key in a few days. For a little extra you can even get printed instructions for a locksmith. Keys Duplicated currently does not provide auto key cutting services, however they explicitly say on their website that this functionality is coming soon.

With so many places available to you with varying prices and convenience in getting your car keys cut, there really are solutions for everyone. Hopefully you come across this website while you are looking to get a key copied for a spare and not yet out of necessity from replacing a lost car key. But as technology makes our car keys more complex, technology also allows us new avenues for simplicity and ease. While the online key cutting does lead to several questions relating to security, there is no doubt that as they refine their business they will provide an added convenience that previous key cutting vendors cannot.

Car Key Replacement – The How To

Introduction – 
You Lost Em

So you just lost your car keys huh? You’re probably feeling a little troubled by the fact that you’re not able to just hop in your car and drive off to your heart’s content. Instead you’re surfing the internet looking for the quickest and cheapest way to get yourself back on the road in your own automobile. Its not always easy to filter through all the search results, trying to get reliable information once you’ve lost your car keys. That is why I have written this “how to” article, to take you from the scene of the problem (losing your keys), to the solution of having a replacement set right in your hands. (I’ve had to do the search myself).

The Problem

Automobile keys have gotten a lot more sophisticated over the years. It isn’t nearly as quick or as painless to get a replacement set anymore. You’ve got transponder chips to take into account, and more than likely you previously had a key-less entry system that you’d also like to replace. And once you’ve got the right style key equipped with a transponder chip, and you’ve found a suitable key-less entry you’d be happy with, you’ve still got to get both programmed right to your vehicle in order for them to function. It used to be that you were able to go down to the local hardware store or locksmith and were able to find the correct key blank for your vehicle and get it cut for $10. Now you’re lucky if you don’t have to special order it from the manufacturer for over $100, and that’s before programming the key.

To make matters just slightly more difficult you still have several options to research if you want to find the best deal. The most assured way to spend a lot of money, is to go exclusively through the dealership that sold you the car. We’ll talk about the alternatives later on, but for now you’re already well on your way to a replacement set of keys just for continuing to reading through this guide.

Doing Your Homework

There are some steps that you need to take in order to ensure that you are able to get a new set of keys quickly and effectively. We’ll go through each step in more detail, but here is the summarized list in the proper order, for your convenience.

  1. Gather your vehicles information
  2. Have proof of ownership handy
  3. Check online retailers
  4. Check local car locksmiths
  5. Check local dealership

Steps 3-5 are ordered by the cost that you may incur by choosing that outlet for getting your keys replaced. Now lets go over each step in detail.

Step 1 – Gathering your vehicles information

This is the most basic step involved. All you really need to get from your vehicle is it’s VIN number.  Your vehicle’s VIN is usually located on the drivers side dash, and is visible by peering through at the base of the windshield from the outside. If you are not able to locate the VIN there, then it may be stamped on the side of your vehicles engine. Now by looking up your VIN you can find a lot of useful information about your vehicle including the year, make, and model. Check out our VIN Decoder Page to look up your vehicle by its VIN, provided by DecodeThis.

Step 2 – Have proof of ownership handy

This may be necessary in order for a locksmith or dealership to agree to cut or program a replacement key for your automobile. Your vehicles registration should suffice for this, as well as a valid drivers license. If the vehicle is not registered in your name but rather a parent or guardian, you may have to get them to get the car key replaced for you. It may be a hassle but it keeps people from making unauthorized keys for your vehicle.

Step 3 – Check online retailers

Online retailers can be very useful for car key replacements if you are able to find a reputable company. Amazon and EBay in particular make finding a trusted seller easy with the use of customer reviews. Online retailers outside those avenues might not be quite as easy. Some ways you can check their reputation and authenticity are to ask for any references they might have or see if they have testimonials. You might also check with the Better Business Bureau and see if they have decent reviews and ample history of doing business.

Online retailers will usually provide the best prices for you to buy your vehicle’s key blank, and some even offer the key cutting service. But since the company will not be in close proximity to your vehicle you will still have to program the key once you have it in your possession. Some online purchases may come with instructions on how to do this programming yourself.This is another consideration when deciding whether or not to go with a retailer online.

Lastly, if you only have one set of keys it may be a good idea to get a key cut from an online retailer. This is because a key that is not programmed to your vehicle can still unlock the car if it is cut to the right specifications, and an online retailer will likely beat a local locksmith in terms of price.

Step 4 – Check with local car locksmiths

A local car locksmith will usually have a lot of the same cutting machinery that a dealership would have keys. The exception to this may be if you have a laser cut key, as the machinery required for these keys are much more expensive. To be sure call the business up and ask them if they are able to replace a key for your automobiles year, make and model. A skilled locksmith may also have the know-how to program the key transponder as well as your key-less entry remote.

Another consideration when looking for a local locksmith is if they offer mobile services. If they do you won’t need to have your vehicle towed to the locksmiths place of business, which will only add the cost of replacing your car keys. In terms of price a local locksmith will almost always be a safer bet than the dealership.

Step 5 – Check with your local dealership

If you weren’t able to get a replacement car key before you reached this step then you’re going to have to pay full price for losing your keys. The dealership is your last hope for getting your key replaced. If they aren’t able to do it then it gets a lot more expensive as you will have to change out your automobile’s locks. Most likely this won’t be the case because if the dealership doesn’t have your needed key blank on hand they can usually order it & have it cut by the manufacturer. You could also still be able to find the key blank online and just have the dealership program it for you.

An additional downside to the dealership replacing your key is the vehicle will need to be towed to the dealership. Dealerships don’t provide a mobile service and they will need the vehicle in order to program the key. However this won’t hurt your wallet too bad if you have AAA services or if your insurance covers vehicle towing.

While dealerships are a more expensive route to go, they are likely going to be the most successful at getting you the car key replacement you need. As a quick guideline, the more sophisticated the key the more difficult and expensive it will be to replace. With older automobiles you may still be able to hit your local hardware store and get a proper replacement cut for $10 if you know what key blank you need. For cutting and programming at a dealership you’re looking at a figure closer to $200+.


So there you have it, your guide to finding yourself a replacement car key. If you do your homework and check out all your different options, you’ll be back on the road in no time without too much hassle and without excessive emptying of your pockets. If you have any feedback you can be sure to reach My Car Key Replacement at our contact page.