A guide to car key cutting and programming

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Car key cutting and programming is one of the many services that a good locksmith can provide.

There are many reasons why you might need car key cutting and programming.

You may have lost your only set and need a replacement car key, fast.

You might want the peace of mind of knowing that if anything were to happen to your car key, you will have a spare for when you need it.

You might even need a second set of car keys for insurance purposes.

Whatever the reason, car key cutting and programming is a relatively simple process that most professional locksmiths can handle with ease.

What is car key cutting and programming?

Car key cutting and programming is a service offered by many locksmiths to replace or fix remote car key fobs that are broken, not working properly or damaged beyond repair.

If you’ve lost your car keys, you can get a new set cut and programmed without having to go to a main dealer, while if you think your car keys might have been stolen, your locksmith may also be able to reprogramme your vehicle’s on-board immobiliser and provide a new set of keys to render the stolen ones useless.

If your car is older and doesn’t have a remote transponder fob, locksmiths can cut spare or replacement keys in the same way as they would a door or house key, and many locksmiths also offer an emergency mobile roadside service for urgent repairs.

If you are looking for this type of service, you should always look for a member of the Master Locksmiths’ Association, like Grays Locksmiths, as MLA-approved locksmiths are vetted, inspected and certified to guarantee they deliver a great service.

What types of car keys need cutting and programming?

If your car or other vehicle was manufactured in 1995 or after, it will come with an immobiliser system and transponder key. This ensures the vehicle can start only if the engine receives the correct code from the transponder chip when the ignition is turned.

There are many different types of transponder keys, which vary by the make and model of your vehicle, but some of the most common types include remote key fobs, flip keys, key cards and keys with an in-built transponder.

A good locksmith should have no problem recreating or repairing any of these types of key.

Most keys for pre-1995 vehicles don’t have a transponder chip, so will probably not need programming, but will still need cutting by a professional locksmith.

How do I know if I’ve got a remote key or a transponder key?

While remote keys and transponder keys can look very similar, they work in different ways.

A remote key works by emitting a specific radio frequency that enables you to unlock your car without the key… handy if it’s raining or you’re in a rush. If your remote stops working, you should still be able to open your car and start it using the usual flat key blade that comes with it.  

A transponder key, meanwhile, might also use a remote radio frequency to lock and unlock your doors, but it will also contain an electronic chip inside the key which communicates with the car’s engine management system and immobiliser.

Without it, you won’t be able to start the engine.

As with all things that are used a lot, both remote keys and transponder keys can become damaged or stop working because of general wear and tear, being dropped or bashed about in your pocket.

Sometimes, the solution can be a simple one – a dead battery for example.

However, in many cases, if your remote key fob stops working, only a locksmith will be able to sort it out.

How much does car key cutting and programming cost?

While car key cutting and programming can be a relatively quick and simple process to carry out – some keys can be cloned in a matter of minutes by locksmiths which have invested in the right technology – the cost will vary, depending on the make and model of your car.

Generally, your locksmith will use specialist equipment to access the digital information needed to clone a key from your car’s on-board computer system, before programming a blank remote and then cutting a key blade if required.

Some keys, however, can’t be cloned and may need a more in-depth diagnostic before a key can be created.

Your vehicle may also come with a passcode or pin which will need to be entered before it allows the programming technology to recreate the codes on a new transponder chip.

It’s because of this that it is always advisable to get an auto locksmith which specialises in remote key cutting and programming to look at it for you, rather than trying to do it yourself.

While you can buy cheap software and diagnostic machines off the internet which claim to enable you to do it yourself, the reality is that these machines often don’t work and can lock up your system, which could be costly to put right.

Auto-locksmith services

A replacement car key from Grays Locksmiths could save you hundreds of pounds, as well as the time and hassle of sorting it out in an emergency.

Our fast and responsive service covers replacement car and van keys, transponder keys, remote fobs and flip keys, all of which can be supplied using manufacturers’ remotes and blades, or after-market copies.

We use the latest in car and van key cutting and programming technology and can supply replacement keys to around 95% of vehicles on the road today, with accuracy and speed.

From our security centre in Nottingham, we can supply new, fully programmed remote key fobs for your vehicle in around an hour, as well as disabling lost keys and remotes to stop them working if they get lost or stolen.

We offer 24-hour call-outs and can often be with you within the hour.

If you would like to enquire about our replacement car key service, give us a call on 0115 942 2315 or fill in the contact form below and we’ll call you back as soon as we can.