How Do You Replace Lost Car Keys?

We know the frustration and stress that comes out when you realise that you have lost your car keys. It often happens at the most inconvenient times, leaving you stranded and wondering what to do next. However, try to stay calm, keep your head up and let us walk you through the steps of car key replacement and get you back on the road quickly and efficiently.

Retrace Your Steps

When you can’t find your car keys, the first thing you should do is think back. Retrace your steps. Take a moment to breathe and try to remember where you last had your keys. Then carefully search the places where you might have left them, like checking your pockets, bags and unusual spots like inside your shoes if you went for a jog. 

If you’re at home, make sure to check the jacket and pants that you were wearing when you last used your keys. Also, take a look around the entrance area of your house because sometimes keys can slip behind furniture.

Gather the Important Information You Need

Once you’ve exhausted your search and you are sure that your keys are indeed lost, it’s time to gather essential information for the replacement process. You’ll need specific details that depend on your vehicle and key type, like:

  • Your vehicle identification number (VIN): This unique identifier is crucial for key replacement.
  • The year, make, and model of your car: This information helps determine the correct key type.
  • Car registration, title, or purchase paperwork: Proof of vehicle ownership may be required.

Understand What Type of Replacement Car Key You Need

Car keys come in various types, and understanding which one you need is essential for the replacement process. Here are the common types of car keys:

Traditional Car Key

If your car was manufactured before the ’90s, the traditional key is the most likely scenario. These keys are straightforward and don’t have any special features. An automotive locksmith can create a replacement key on the spot.

Key Fob

Key fobs, introduced in the ’90s, offer keyless entry and often include remote functions like locking and unlocking your car. If you have a key fob, you can purchase a replacement online and program it yourself in some cases.

Switchblade Key

Switchblade keys combine a key fob with a foldable key, making them compact and convenient. Losing this type of key may require ordering a replacement directly from the dealership.

Transponder Key

Transponder keys have a wireless element that connects to your car, ensuring it starts only when the key is present. If you lose a transponder key, towing your car to the dealership is usually necessary.

Smart Key

Smart keys are the most advanced and convenient option. They enable keyless entry and ignition through proximity sensors. However, replacing a smart key requires a dealership visit in most cases.

When it’s Time to Explore Local Dealerships

If you’ve determined that your car key falls into one of the categories that require dealership assistance (such as transponder keys or smart keys), it’s time to explore your local dealerships. Contact your vehicle’s manufacturer’s dealership and inquire about the replacement process. Be prepared to provide the necessary information and proof of ownership.

Can You Use Your Car Insurance to Replace Keys

In some cases, your car insurance policy may cover the cost of replacing lost car keys. Review your policy documents to check if you have a key cover included. Policies with key replacement cover often allow you to claim a specific amount for replacement keys, typically ranging from £500 to £1000, depending on your coverage level. Keep in mind that:

  • You may have to pay an excess.
  • Claiming for lost keys could affect your no-claims bonus.
  • Changing your car’s locks may be required.

Consult with an Automotive Locksmith

For those with traditional keys or key fobs, consulting an automotive locksmith is a practical and cost-effective option. These professionals are skilled at creating replacement keys, even if you don’t have the original key.

Auto locksmiths often provide mobile services, coming to your location to create a spare key and reprogram remote key fobs. They can also assist with lock repairs and damaged keys. 

Also, if this is an emergency situation, like if you accidentally locked yourself out, don’t try to tackle the situation yourself. Breaking your car window is not only quite difficult to do with modern vehicles but it’s also dangerous. That’s why it’s best to call the experts.

Car Key Replacement Costs

The cost of replacing lost car keys can vary significantly based on several factors:

Key Type

Traditional keys are the least expensive to replace, costing around £10 at a hardware store. Automotive locksmiths may charge a bit more for their on-site services. Key fobs can range from £50 to £100, depending on whether you choose an aftermarket product or a model-specific version.

Car Make and Model

The specific make and model of your car can impact the key replacement cost. Luxury car keys, like those for BMW or Bentley, tend to be more expensive.

Towing to the Dealership

If your car requires dealership assistance, you’ll need to factor in the cost of towing. 

Labour Fees

Additional labour fees may apply, depending on the complexity of the replacement process.

As a general guideline, transponder keys may cost around £200, while switchblade keys could run about £300, plus towing fees. Smart keys vary in price from £200 to £500, depending on location, dealership, and car make and model. So, get a few quotes from locksmiths or dealerships to get an accurate estimate for your specific situation.


Misplacing your car keys can be quite exasperating, but worry not! To efficiently get them replaced, you have to equip yourself with the right knowledge and follow a few simple steps. Whether you decide to seek assistance from an automotive locksmith service provider or pay a visit to the dealership, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of your key type and gather all the necessary information. This will ensure a smooth and successful replacement process.