F.A.Q. about Cars


Table of Contents

  1. Why should I call a locksmith when I am locked out of my car?
  2. I have a new car that has some kind of security device built into the key.
  3. My parents bought me a new car for when I go away to college but...
  4. The key to my car is constantly breaking in two, why?
  5. I just purchased a new car and it came with a metal tag that...
  6. I lost the key to my car.  How can I get another one made?
  7. I have the vehicle identification number from my car, can I get...
  8. What do I do if my car lock is frozen?

Q: Why should I call a locksmith when I am locked out of my car?

A: If you’re like most people, you have a big investment in your automobile.   In years gone by, almost anyone could open a locked car using only one tool. It only took a second or two. Today however, automobile makers have really tightened up the security of almost every car on the road. This means that a trained professional must have dozens of tools and techniques in order your car with no damage. A professional locksmith owns hundreds of dollars worth of tools and books on car opening. That is why he or she must charge a fair price to open your car. When you call a locksmith a trained professional responds to your call. He or she arrives in a service vehicle stocked with thousands of dollars worth of tools and machinery, ready for any emergency. In many towns, the police no longer will respond to lockouts unless it is a dire emergency. The more informed police departments do not want to risk doing hundreds of dollars of damage to your car. When you call the police, a tow truck driver, or any other unskilled person to unlock your car...you risk unnecessary damage to your vehicle.

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Q: I have a new car that has some kind of security device built into the key. Do I have to go to the dealer to get a copy?

 

A: Depending on the make-No. Most locksmiths can reproduce these keys. Including the latest high security vehicle keys. In nearly all cases, your locksmith will save you money over the dealer. Believe it or not, your locksmith is usually more familiar with how these systems work than your dealer. A phone call with your auto information first will save you an unnecessary trip.

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Q: My parents bought me a new car for when I go away to college but they won’t let me use the key that came with the car, only copies. Are these keys as good as the original?

A: Yes. The best thing to do when you get a new car with factory original keys is put those keys away in a safe place; after getting spares made. Use the spares and then every time you need a new key get it made off the original rather than copying a copy. It is not unusual for us to get service calls to a stranded motorist and the only problem is the spares they had made don't work and they lost their other set. Or the key they are using works but they have had to play with it and wiggle it, and now even that doesn't work. The problem is many times that they have a worn out key. I have even seen customers get towed to the dealer or a garage and have their ignition replaced, when all they needed was a good key. If you have a used car or keys that you have to fiddle with then a locksmith can make a "code cut key" for you and most of the time that will eliminate the problem. Don't think this will cost a buck or two like a duplicate. The machinery to cut a code cut key is 3-4 times the cost of a duplicator and it takes more time. Depending on your area this may cost anywhere from 10-20 dollars. A real bargain when you consider getting stuck somewhere in your car or locked out of the house as an alternative. The nice part also is that you can have good quality duplicates made from this code cut key which wasn't possible from your worn out key (and those will cost you a lot less). Of course you would put this code cut key away for future copies to be made off of and just use your spares.

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Q: The key to my car is constantly breaking in two, why?

A: The common cars for this to happen on are GEO's, and most Japanese manufacturers have a few years or models that are prone to it. The problem is a poor design of the key. You have 8 or 10 tumblers in your locks with half being on one side and half on the other. To make it convenient for you so no matter how you put the key in it works; the manufacturers put all 8 or 10 cuts on both sides of the key. This makes for a very weak key. Hold your key up if you have a GEO and look down the key like you're looking down a gun barrel. You'll see the only thing holding the key together is a very thin strip of metal between the grooves that are on each side of the key. I have been out to stranded motorists who have had their key break off in the ignition or some other lock, 3 times or more. They are really annoyed at the situation as it can sometimes take an hour to get them on the road (if the whole ignition has to be disassembled to get the broken key out). If you have an ASIAN vehicle I recommend you inspect your key at its deepest grooves for cracks. It may have a crack on both sides in which case it is going to break off in one of your locks any day (expensive). Go to the locksmith shop and he can code cut a key (see #1 above) that will work only one way when you put it in (I usually cut a notch in the head of the key to show the customer which way is up). It will work all your locks just fine and be MUCH stronger to avoid this breaking off problem. It will cost more than a duplicate, but you'll wish you had if you get stranded.

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Q: I just purchased a new car and it came with a metal tag that the salesman said I should keep. What’s it for?

A: Many people don't know that when you get a new car (not a used one) you have a tag with your keys (GM cars have a knock-out plug where the key ring would go) that gives you the “key code”. Many newer cars have it in the form of a bar code with some numbers above it. Many ASIAN manufacturers have a number on the original key stamped in below the key head (usually 4 digits; this means an original key with the company logo, not spares). If you memorize these numbers you'll always have a means to get a key cut by a locksmith if you need one. If you write it down in your owner’s manual you'll always have it in your glove box too. You might want to consider encoding it with some letters vs. numbers. Take any 10-letter word (or word combination) you like and make that your word. For example you could remember My New Autos. Take the 1st 10 letters (notice they are all different from each other) and number them 0-9. See below:

M

Y

N

E

W

A

U

T

O

S

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

If the code for your Mitsubishi is 7635 you could write TUEA in your owner’s manual and even write key code right beside it. Then even if someone saw it they wouldn't be able to do anything with it. Just make sure you pick a word you can't forget that has at least 10 letters and they are all different from each other (or the first 10 are).

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Q: I lost the key to my car.  How can I get another one made?

A: The easiest way is to have a key made from code. The key codes can be obtained usually from the original bill of sale or by calling the car dealer where the car was originally purchased. If you get the code numbers you can have your local locksmith cut a key by code for a fraction of the cost of having him come out to your car and fit a key to the lock. Also, on cars where one key fits all the locks, if a code is not available you can remove the passenger door lock cylinder. Your local locksmith should be able to fit a key to the lock depending on the make & model. We always suggest the passenger door lock because it has less wear than the drivers side and helps us to make a better reproduction.

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Q: I have the vehicle identification number from my car, can I get a key cut for my car?

A: You have to contact the roadside service that is listed on your car or a dealer to obtain a “key code”. They will cross-reference your VIN to your key code number. If the car is ten years old or older chances are they will not have your records.

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Q: What do I do if my car lock is frozen?

A: Sometimes warming the key or key slot helps.  A Hair dryer works great for that. You also might try some type of lock lubricant or lock de-icier you can obtain from your local locksmith or hardware store. 

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© 2012 Aztec Locksmith. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/19/03.