Locked Out? A Guide to Replacing Lost Keys

Locked Out? A Guide to Replacing Lost Keys

That moment of panic when you realize your house or car keys are missing is a feeling we never want to experience. But keys get lost all the time, whether they accidentally fell out of your pocket or you left them behind somewhere. Suddenly you find yourself locked outside your home, office, or vehicle with no way to get in.

Before you panic, call an expert locksmith. We can get you replacement keys made promptly so you can access your property again. This article explains everything you need to know about replacing lost keys, from assessing your situation, to proof of ownership, to pricing, and more.

Take Inventory of What Needs Replacement Keys

First, try to stay calm and retrace your steps to jog your memory about where you last remember having your keys. Also, take an inventory of exactly which locks now need new keys made. Make a list of all exterior door locks at your home, place of business, garage doors, sheds/outbuildings, mailbox locks, etc.

For home interiors, make note of any bedroom doors, as well as interior deadbolts, and double check that you have keys to interior common areas like hallways or basements. Don’t forget about locks like file cabinets, safes, lockboxes, or security drawers that also likely need replacement keys. Jot down the quantity of each lock type that needs new keys.

For vehicles, specify whether you need replacement keys made for the door locks as well as a new ignition/start key. Some vehicles use separate keys for ignition and door locks, so check your spare keys to confirm which replacements you need.

Identify Your Key Types

There are dozens of different key blank types on the market. Most standard residential door and vehicle locks utilize basic flat metal keys. But for high-security or restricted key systems, you’ll need to provide details about the lock brands and keyway (the shape of the key blade).

Restricted keys include brands like Medeco, Mul-T-Lock, Primus, ASSA Abloy Protec2, and Schlage Primus. These utilize patented keyways and special internal components to prevent unauthorized duplication. Make note of the lock models or take photos of your current keys to help the locksmith identify the proper keyway.

For transponder keys, which have an embedded chip in the plastic head, you’ll need to provide the vehicle make, model and year. The locksmith can then program new transponder keys to match your ignition system.

Homeowners should also note whether you have re-pinned locks or added your own unique master key system. The locksmith will be able to impression your locks to create matching keys.

Proof of Ownership

Reputable locksmith professionals will always ask for identification and proof that you either own or have authorized access to the property. This is for legal and ethical reasons, to prevent making keys for unauthorized parties.

Be prepared to show a government-issued ID like a driver’s license or passport when the locksmith arrives on-site. It’s also helpful to have documents that prove ownership or residency, such as your property deed, current utility bills or mail, vehicle registration, office lease, etc.

For rental properties, have your valid lease agreement. For shared properties like apartments, condos or houses with housemates, the owner or landlord should authorize new keys. The best proof is calling the owner while the locksmith is present.

In a retail business, managers should approve new keys for employees. If you lost the only keys during off-hours, be prepared to show employee ID or documentation upon the manager’s return.

The Key Creation Process

Professional locksmiths have industry-leading key cutting machines to duplicate keys accurately. Key cutting uses manual machines or computer-controlled robots to cut new keys to precisely match the depth, spacing and angles of the original key cuts. This ensures the new key will align properly inside the lock and operate it correctly.

If you still have at least one working key, the locksmith can simply duplicate it quickly on-site using your key as a template. Duplicates made this way cost less than more complex key creation. If no working keys remain, the locksmith has several options:

  • Impressioning – The locksmith inserts a blank key and manipulates it while turning to impression the correct key pattern by feel. This works on most pin and tumbler locks.
  • Code cutting – For some lock brands, the locksmith can decode the key cuts by sight and cut a matching key using the manufacturer’s key codes.
  • Destructive entry – As a last resort with no remaining keys, the lock must be drilled out and replaced completely to gain entry. This has an added cost for a new lockset.

Once entry is gained, the locksmith can make additional working keys for the new lockset.

Pricing Factors

Cost for replacing lost keys depends on several factors:

  • Key blank type – Basic duplicate keys are least expensive. High-security or transponder chip keys cost more.
  • Quantity – Making multiple duplicate keys costs more than just one replacement key.
  • Impressioning or other origination methods – These take more work and are pricier than simple duplication.
  • Service call fees – Emergency lockout service outside normal business hours costs extra.
  • Mileage fees – Added charges for distant driving to your location.

For basic duplicate keys, prices usually range from $3-$10 per key. High-security or electronic vehicle keys typically cost $80-$300 each. Impressioning services can add $150 or more. After-hours emergency calls commence at $100 and up.

Don’t Get Locked Out Again!

Losing your keys causes much more than just monetary expense – it also leads to major inconvenience, inability to access your property, and security risks. To avoid repeat frustrations, take steps to reduce your chances of lock outs:

  • Make spare keys – Keep extras in strategic places in case you misplace your main keys.
  • Install a key safe box – Hide a spare near your entry points.
  • Carry only necessary keys – Don’t lug around keys you rarely need.
  • Avoid key rings – Clip only your essential keys together so they’re easy to spot.
  • Keep keys away from magnets – Magnet exposure can damage RFID chips in key fobs.

Replacing lost keys quickly is crucial to restore access, security and peace of mind. Our expert locksmiths are ready to assist you 24/7. Trust us to cut precise replacement keys so you can get back into your property with no hassle or delay. Contact us today for fast, affordable key replacement services near you.