The Inconvenience of Lost Car Keys – What to Do

The convenience of modern mobility is underscored by the most critical component – car keys. Without them, you are essentially locked out of your primary mode of transportation, leading to numerous unforeseen complications.

There are few things more frustrating than losing your car keys, especially when you don’t have a spare. In this article, we explore the dilemma of lost car keys, emphasizing the steps to take when you find yourself stranded without a spare key.


What to Do if Car Keys are Lost?

1.     Don’t Panic and Retrace Your Steps

In the face of such an inconvenient event, it’s important to keep calm. Your first course of action should be to thoroughly search your immediate surroundings and retrace your steps. Car keys often turn up in the least expected places, so leave no stone unturned.

2.     Contact a Locksmith

If the key remains lost, the next step is to call a professional locksmith. Many modern locksmiths have the necessary equipment and expertise to create a new key, even for modern cars with transponder keys or fob keys.

3.     Reach Out to Your Car Insurance Company

Some car insurance policies cover the cost of replacing lost or stolen keys. It’s worth checking your policy or contacting your insurer to understand what help is available.

4.     Contact Your Local Dealership

Close up of a man receiving new car key. 

Your car’s dealership is another excellent place to turn to. They can replace lost keys; however, it can be more expensive and take longer than a locksmith. The cost will also depend on the car’s make and model.

5.     Consider Keyless Systems

If you repeatedly find yourself losing your car keys, you might want to consider upgrading to a keyless system. This system allows you to unlock and start your car with a code, eliminating the need for a physical key.

6.     Taking Preventive Measures

To avoid the stress of losing car keys in the future, it’s wise to have a spare key. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense at the time, it can save you a lot of inconvenience and potentially money in the future.

Losing your car keys without a spare is a frustrating experience, but it’s not insurmountable. There are many professional services available that can help you regain access to your vehicle. It’s also a reminder of the importance of preventive measures like spare keys or keyless systems to avoid similar situations in the future.

What to Do Based on Car Key Type

1.     Traditional Car Keys

If your vehicle uses a traditional mechanical key, any locksmith should be able to cut a new key fairly easily. It’s generally the most inexpensive type of key to replace.

2.     Transponder Keys

If your car uses a transponder key (a key with a chip inside that communicates with your car), you’ll need a replacement from a service that has the correct equipment to program a new key. A locksmith specializing in automotive keys or a dealership can help. The cost can vary greatly depending on the make and model of the vehicle.

3.     Key Fobs or ‘Smart’ Keys

A key with keyless entry to the car.

For vehicles with key fobs or smart keys that start the car at the push of a button, a dealership or specialist locksmith will again be needed. These types of keys are the most expensive to replace due to the technology involved.

Can Lost Car Keys Be Tracked?

Typical car keys can’t be tracked because they don’t have any GPS or tracking capabilities. However, if you’ve attached a tracking device like a Bluetooth tracker to your keys, you may be able to find them using the associated app on your smartphone.

It’s also worth noting that some high-end car manufacturers are starting to incorporate tracking technology into their key fobs, but this is not yet a widespread feature.

Can a Locksmith Make a Key Without the Original?

Yes, a professional locksmith can make a key without the original. For traditional keys, locksmiths can often use the vehicle’s ignition cylinder code or door lock to make a new key. Some locksmiths can also clone transponder keys, even without the original, by connecting to the car’s onboard diagnostics port to program a new key.

For key fobs or ‘smart’ keys, it’s a bit more complex, but a specialized locksmith or dealership can order a replacement key fob and program it to your vehicle. This process involves specific codes that are unique to each vehicle, making it a more expensive process.

As always, it’s recommended to maintain at least one set of spare keys to avoid these hassles. It may seem like an extra cost, but it is a valuable investment considering the cost and inconvenience of losing the only set of your car keys.

Can I Get a Key Made from the VIN Number?

Yes, in many cases, you can have a new key made from your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Your VIN is a unique code specific to your car, and a locksmith or dealership can use it to request the key code needed to cut a new key. However, you will need to provide proof of ownership and identification to do this for security reasons.

Are Lost Car Keys Covered by Insurance?

Car insurance document.

Whether lost car keys are covered by insurance depends on your specific insurance policy. Some comprehensive insurance policies do cover the cost of replacing lost or stolen keys, while others might not. There are also policies where you can add on key replacement as an optional extra. It’s recommended to check with your insurance provider to understand the details of your coverage.

What Preventive Measures Can You Take To Avoid The Stress Of Losing Car Keys In The Future?

Having a spare key is one of the most effective preventive measures you can take to avoid future inconveniences associated with losing your car keys. Keeping a spare key at home, or with a trusted friend or family member, can save you time, stress, and potential costs associated with professional key replacement services.

In addition, consider attaching a key tracker to your keychain, so you can easily locate your keys if they get misplaced.


In conclusion, losing your car keys can indeed be an unpleasant experience. However, knowing the available options – from retracing your steps to find the lost key, to reaching out to a professional for a replacement, can help navigate this inconvenient situation. It’s crucial to stay calm and explore your options.

Additionally, preventive measures like having a spare key or a key tracker can be extremely helpful in avoiding or handling such occurrences in the future. Keep these pointers in mind and drive stress-free!

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About Matthew Webb

Hi, I am Matthew! I am a dedicated car nerd! During the day, I am a journalist, at night I enjoy working on my 2 project cars. I have been a car nerd all my life, and am excited to share my knowledge with you!