Laser Cut Keys

It is becoming more apparent that advancement in technology for car keys comes with both benefits and burdens. Hopefully for you, you don’t actually lose your vehicle keys frequently enough to where the burdens outweigh the numerous benefits. Most of these benefits are based upon consumers needs for security and safety features. This is exactly what car designer/manufacturers had in mind when they implement laser cut keys into their vehicles.

What is a laser cut key?

Laser cut keys are very distinct from regular keys, so if you know what a laser cut key is you’ll quickly be able to recognize it for what it is. First, the key’s shank is generally thicker than that of a regular key. However most distinctively, rather than the key having the many peaks, valleys and ridges along the outside edge like a regular key would, a laser cut key has its cuts along the interior face of the key shank. Think of it like a river canyon weaving its way along the bottom of a ridge (wow that doesn’t help). Better yet lets just get you a couple picture. Maybe the analogy makes a little more sense after seeing it.

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The key has these interior cuts on both faces of the shank, and allows the key to be inserted into the vehicle’s ignition cylinder either way. While the outside of the key does still have some cutting and shaping done to it, its not nearly to the extent of regular keys.

What is the purpose?

The purpose behind these keys is to keep your vehicle even more safe from car theft than it already is. The key cutting machinery required for these types of keys is much more expensive, and makes it that much harder to duplicate the key. Apart from these keys being harder to duplicate, they are also embedded with transponder chips, which are programmed along with your car so that only your set of keys will start the vehicle.

Is there a downside?

Sadly there is in fact a burden that comes with these keys. They are more expensive to replace and it will be a little harder to find a professional that is capable of replacing the key for you. But it has gotten a lot better in recent years. It used to be laser cut keys were only used in higher end luxury vehicles such as Mercedes or BMW. Because of this exclusivity there were simply not many locksmiths or dealers that had the capability to replace these keys, and thus you paid an arm and a leg if you ever lost one. Nowadays you will find laser cut keys in a variety of different vehicles. Because they are a lot more common, it isn’t as hard to find a professional that can help you for a decent price. Dealerships are your surest bet to find someone able to replace your key, however a locksmith that specializes in car keys is more than likely to have the proper machinery to help you out without costing you as much.

Tidbits

  • Laser cut keys also go by other names as well. They are often referred to as “Sidewinder” keys as well as “Internal Cut” keys.
  • These keys are often used in conjunction with switchblades. This is where the key shank actually folds into A switch blade with a laser cut key shankthe key fob, and pops out with the press of a button.

Overview

Laser cut keys are a good example of the direction that car key technology is going. In terms of security, laser cut keys are right near the top as they are great for keeping your car safe, and exactly where you left it. While they are more expensive to replace, nowadays it shouldn’t be too hard to find yourself a professional that you can work with. Be sure to shop around, and take advantage of our tips given in our How To Guide regarding car key replacement to help you get the best price.

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+.

Summary

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.

 

Key Fobs

What is a key fob?

More than likely you have seen this term thrown around when you’re looking for replacement car keys from your search engine results. So instead of having to take an educated guess or just never finding out what the term refers to, I will ask and answer the question for you. What is a key fob?

A key fob is the remote that communicates with your car to perform certain vehicle functions. It is also commonly referred to as key-less entry. These key fobs have become very popular as just about all modern cars come with a stock remote of some kind. While there are subtle differences in design and functionality between these key fobs, most of the remotes perform the same functions. These functions include: unlocking and locking the car at a distance, popping your cars trunk, some models even allow for remote starting of the engine. The purpose of all of this is for convenience to the consumer.

The way this all works is through the transmission of a unique code from the remote to the vehicle. When you hit the unlock button on your key-less entry remote, or key fob, the remote sends out a unique code to your vehicle. If this transmitted code from the key fob matches the code in the vehicle receivers memory, then the car performs that function. It’s this unique code that keeps other peoples remote entry devices from being able to access your vehicle. It is also why the vehicle is able to perform more than one function, as there are different codes for different receivers.

How is this any different than a transponder chip?

Well the answer to that is they perform different functions. A transponder chip works to tell the vehicle electronically that it is the correct key trying to start the car. This is for security purposes, making it much more difficult for would be car thieves to drive away with your vehicle. A key fob performs the functions stated earlier in this post. Now you might be wondering, what does that mean for cars that allow for remote engine start? With that function the cars engine starts while you are at a distance (more than likely inside your home or office), but the transponder still needs to communicate with the car in order for the car to be driven away. If you do not put the transponder key in the ignition after a specified amount of time the car will simply shut off. You can also shut off the vehicle with the key fob as well. For security purposes the car also remains locked until you hit the unlock button.

There is no denying that keys are getting more and more sophisticated. They add to our security, convenience, and just plain look cool sometimes. And don’t think you are limited to the use of OEM (original equipment manufacturer) key fobs. There are many aftermarket key fobs that you can purchase for your vehicle. If you think you would like an aftermarket key fob, just remember you’re either going to have to learn how to program it yourself  or pay to have it done for you.