What Do You Do If You Lose Your Car Keys?

Losing your car keys is one of the most annoying and nerve-wracking experiences when it comes to owning a car. Back in the day, it wasn’t that big of a deal as car keys could be easily replaced, but as cars have become more advanced nowadays, so have their keys. So what do you do it end up losing one, or both, of your car keys?

Various types of keys

In the past, it was easy to replace a car key because it was a simple piece of metal that you could stick in the ignition tumbler and simply turn. And while those types of keys might still exist on newer base-model cars, there is usually a transponder inside the key housing that acts as a layer of security. Additionally, there are many different types of keys for cars today and simply cutting and reprogramming them can be tricky. Here are a few different types of keys and what you can do in the case that you lose one.

Teen driver behind the wheel
Teen Driver | Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The traditional car key

If you don’t have a newer car and your car happens to use a traditional car key, then you’re actually in luck as they are the easiest to replace. According to Geico, you can just call a locksmith and most of them, whether they are mobile or not, can typically cut you a key on the spot. If you happen to have a unique car that they can’t cut a key for, then a local repair shop should be able to help you out.

traditional car keys
(GERMANY OUT) Keys laying in grass (Photo by Mayall/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

The car key fob

If you have a key setup where there are a separate key and car key fob that locks and unlocks your doors, then you can still get into and drive your car with just the key alone. Fortunately, to replace the fob, you can find one online and get it reprogrammed by the dealer.

Transponder and switchblade keys

Transponder and switchblade keys were made to combine the lock and unlock mechanisms with the actual key itself while providing a layer of security with the programmed transponder. Without the transponder programmed to the car’s ignition, the car simply won’t start. It’s great for deterring theft, however, it’s not so great when you need to replace a lost key.

In this case, if you don’t have a spare key to use, you’ll need to get the car towed to the dealership or a locksmith and get a new key cut and reprogrammed. Just note that some dealers could charge around $200 just for the programming and another $200 or so for the key itself. We suggest checking online key replacement sites first to see if you can find a replacement key for less and make the process more affordable.

RELATED: Will Apple CarKey Make Physical Keys a Thing of the Past?

The logo of Triumph on a motorcycle key
The logo of Triumph on a motorcycle key | Guven Yilmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Smart key

If you happen to lose your car key and your car has nothing but a push-button start ignition system, then you have what’s called a “smart key.” The good news is that thieves will have a hard time stealing your car, but the bad news is that if you press the button with no key in close proximity to it, your car won’t start.

Just like any other transponder key system, you will need to get the car towed over to the dealership and get a new smart key and have it programmed, just remember that it could cost a pretty penny to do so. However, your cost will vary depending on what type of car you have.

mercedes car keys
VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA – NOVEMBER 16, 2016: Key chains bearing the Mercedes-Benz logo at a Mercedes-Benz car dealership. Dmitry Rogulin/TASS (Photo by Dmitry Rogulin\TASS via Getty Images)

Always check online first

No matter which type of car key your car needs, always check for replacement keys online first. They are typically much more affordable than the ones you get at the dealership or auto shop and you can typically get them reprogrammed by a locksmith. However, if you cannot, then the dealership will be able to do it for you.

RELATED: Car Keys: How They Moved From Metal to Microchip

Handing over car keys
Handing over the keys | Burak Fatsa/Getty Images

What if you lose both of your car keys?

If you happen to lose both of your car keys, then get it towed to either a dealership or locksmith and be sure to take note of your car’s VIN and registration information as you might need to provide the shop with that information, along with your personal information, so they can verify that you are the owner. Once that is done, they should be able to cut a new key or set of keys as needed.