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Can You Make a Copy of a Car Key? | What You Should Know

Losing or breaking a car key is a daunting experience. However, it is possible to copy or replace the car key to avoid this situation. It all depends on the type of car key, dealership, or locksmith you contact, and whether or not you have a copy key or the vehicle identification number.

Any locksmith, hardware store, or the dealership can make a copy of a basic car key. However, it is harder and more expensive to copy the laser and sidewinder keys that use chips inside them. You may need a specialist auto locksmith to program a transponder to the car or remote key.

You can actually buy uncut chipped ignition key replacements, like this one found on Amazon. Just make sure you contact a local dealer or locksmith to make sure it is compatible.

Making a Copy of a Car Key

Modern key fobs are difficult to copy. The reason being, modern key fob technology intentionally makes it challenging to replicate car keys to make it hard for thieves.

Many vehicle brands allow car owners who have one of the two-car keys initially sold with the car to program a third key. This one is easy to copy at any professional locksmith service. If it is a basic key, then that is all you need. However, some car keys will need further operations than mere copying.

Most cars use electronic key fob technology. This means reprogramming of the key is necessary during replacement or copying. Most owner’s manuals will have the procedures necessary to assist you in programming the key. There are so many guides available online that can help you with it.

You can also order a basic car key without the transmitter and keep it that way as long as you have another one to run the car. This one without the transmitter cannot start the engine and is suitable only for opening the door.

Can You Make a Copy of a Car Key Without the Original?

A professional locksmith service should provide you with a car key replacement even if you have lost the original and do not have any other key with you. All you need is the vehicle identification number to assist the locksmith in doing the replacement.

The VIN is on your title, insurance paperwork, or card and in several prominent places on the vehicle. Look at the bottom of the windshield on the driver’s side, on the driver’s door, or behind the driver’s door on the “jamb.”

A responsible locksmith should ask you for proof of identification that the car is yours. Just keep in mind that not all locksmiths have the machines to duplicate or program the key after duplication—just some will.

Holding a Key and Fob in Front of a Silver Car
My key to “Old Bessie”, my 2006 Corolla.

How Much Does It Cost to Copy a Car Key?

A locksmith charges about $20 to $30 to replace a transponder key with the fob technology in one unit. A dealer will charge more – basically around $75 for the fob and $160 to replace the new key. It costs you around $250 to copy a laser-cut key.

Blank keys at AutoZone, Home Depot and Wal-Mart cost around $3 to $6. These also sell remote key fobs and transponder key fobs for about $15 to $90. You can then program these blanks yourself using the manual, online guides, or even by taking it to Ace Hardware. Ace hardware charges only $ 2.99 for a replacement car key. If the car needs programming, they will charge less than $100 for the fob.

Related How Much Does a Key Fob Cost? (And How To Save Money).

Where Can You Get a Key Copied?

Locksmiths can quickly help with a replacement key for the basic types of keys that do not need programming. Other places you can have the key copied are at the dealer companies.

If it is not possible to program the key on yourself using the manual, you can reach for help from the dealer or locksmith. Some dealerships will help you program these types of car keys for free. Others will charge the labor for programming it. Transponder keys, which are either basic or laser-cut keys, can also be programmed by a locksmith with the machine to program them.

Can You Make a Copy of a Car Key at Lowe’s or Home Depot?

Lowes and Home Depot do copy car keys. The problem comes when it is a chip key because they may not have the technology to program the keys. Since the chip key is common nowadays, it is hard to get a replacement at Lowes.

Indeed, many locksmiths may not be able to do so without the special hardware needed. However, you can still check with them whether it is possible by having the VIN, the year of make, car make, model, and type with you.

Home Depot assists with a copy, mainly for those keys that do not have transponder chips in them. This means the key can only operate the doors and not start the engine. If you manage to get a copy of the transponder chip keys, then the Depo has a limited selection at their locations.

Does Autozone Make Car Key Copies?

AutoZone sells blank keys for many car models, including expensive ones. You can also buy remote key fobs and transponder key fobs. You can then use an On-Board Programming system to program these. However, it depends on the automaker of the car, and not all fobs are programmable with this system. You might have to check with a locksmith or car dealer to get this.

It is hard, however, to get a duplicate car key cut at AutoZone for your car. You can often pick up a replacement, like this one, on Amazon. You will likely want to shop around for the best price.

Can Ace Hardware Copy Car Keys?

Ace Hardware is a specialist key dealer and will cut and program car keys of any type. They can provide a key whether you have lost all the keys and need a replacement or want another copy of the original. With over 5,000 stores worldwide, you can get a replacement key at your location easily without needing to travel.

Can a Dealership Cut a Key With Just the Vin Number?

Dealerships will usually cut a replacement key for your car if you have the VIN. However, any dealer will require you to prove that you own the vehicle to be sure that it is not stolen. It is also costly to use a dealership. They pull out the key code from the VIN and then copy and program the key.

However, since the keys have transponders, you will need to have the key programmed to the car. The transponder prevents the vehicle from starting if it senses a wrong key in the hole.

Can AAA Start a Car Without Keys?

AAA membership helps restore your car keys if they are lost. They can replace a broken key or give a replacement when you lock the keys in the car. However, the replacement is provided at a cost. You will also need to wait for a locksmith to be sent by the company to attend to the car.

Young Woman Being Handed Keys While She Sits Inside Her Car
AAA Can Help Restore Your Keys, But Not Start It

Bottom Line

Losing or breaking a car key is not the end of the world. While there is quite a bit of expense in replacing the fob, the actual key itself is not that expensive.

Personally, I will not buy a car unless it comes with at least one extra fob. I still have two additional fobs for my old Corolla that I keep stored away in two separate locations in case I happen to lose the original. I recommend you do the same so that this is never a problem again.

Thanks for reading! For more, don’t miss How Much Do Rims Cost for a Car? (New and Used).