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Your Guide To: Car Keys

We’ve all been there: standing by the car, checking pockets, bags and coats, desperately looking for the car keys – because we are SURE that we had them recently. Most of the time, we find our keys eventually (usually just where we left them!) but if you drop, break or lose your car keys and you are either away from home or don’t have a spare, you could find yourself in a tricky situation.

Your Car Key Type

In this hi-tech day and age, car keys are much more than just a key. In the “good old days” if you lost a car key, you just had to pop to the local locksmith and get a replacement. Today, it’s not quite so simple (or cheap), depending on the type of car key that you are replacing:

  1. Basic car keys are pretty easy to copy, assuming that you have spare. Some have an electronic alarm installed, but these can be overridden once your key is in the ignition.
  2. Transponder car keys were one of the earlier innovations to reduce car theft. During the ‘90s, new cars were issued with keys that had a transponder chip fitted. The chip would send a unique code to the car’s immobiliser; if the code didn’t match, the car wouldn’t start. If you need to replace a transponder key, most locksmiths will be able to re-programme the new key for you (at a cost). Alternatively, it is possible for you to re-programme it yourself if you have the time and patience – check your owner’s manual for more information.
  3. Remote control car keys come with remote unlocking; they are battery operated and usually include lock/unlock buttons as well as an alarm deactivation button. Remote control car keys operate either by infrared or radio signal; if the battery is flat, you will still be able to open the car with your key but you might not be able to disable the alarm.
  4. Switchblade keys were invented to protect the key shank by making it retractable. No more keys digging in your pockets or catching on bag linings!
  5. The smart key was developed in 1998 by Mercedes Benz and is now widely available on any newer model, higher-spec card. More than just a key (or, strictly, not a key at all), the smart key allows for contactless unlocking and push-button ignition. Smart keys usually have a “real” key concealed within in case of emergencies, but replacing a lost or broken smart key can be expensive.

If you need to replace a broken or lost car key, get in touch with a local garage or car key specialist to get a quote or recommendations. If you find yourself away from home without any way to access a spare key, call a recovery service for assistance.


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