- February 14, 2020
- |Automotive Tips
- | 0
You may think of car keys as merely a piece of metal, but they are essential. They are your “key” to gain entrance into your vehicle. They also allow you to start your car and of course, you can lock the car door with them.
If you lost your keys, you need to replace them. Before you begin, you should first know what type of key you have. Surprisingly, there are different variations of key styles today, including:
Older cars come with the standard metal key. Such a key is machine-cut to ensure precision. It is used to turn the ignition, as well as lock and unlock the car door. Sometimes, it also matches the keyhole of the trunk. Even though it is basic, it still comes with a few features, including the ability to program a key fob for distance locking and using an alarm system among others.
Switchblade: This type of key is unique because it folds into the handle. You press a button, and it pops open, so you can start using the key.
This term comes from joining “transmitter” and “responder.” This key may seem new, but it has been around since the mid-90s. Transponders come with a microchip, which restricts it to a specific car with the correct sensor. This way, the vehicle’s security is heightened.
New technology enables the creation of modern keys, including “smart” ones. They have advanced programming, which lets the car owner unlock the car door remotely. The keys may also permit starting the car even without turning the ignition. They help prevent theft as well because they usually utilise rolling code transponders.
You need your keys to operate your car. If you break them or lose them, you should instantly look for a way to have them replaced.
If you have standard keys, they are cheap and can be duplicated easily. All you need to do is to talk to a locksmith, and you will have your new set of keys in no time.
Now, what would happen if you break the switchblade key? The good news is that replacement is quite simple. You can take it to an auto locksmith to have the damaged key replaced. Sometimes, the handle is fixed instead of replacing the whole key with a new one.
As with the other two, you can contact a local locksmith and have your transponder replaced. Meanwhile, smart keys are probably the most complex type. Therefore, it is often difficult to replace them – not to mention expensive.
Car Key Battery Replacement
Did you press on your car key and it did not trigger the remote locking system like it used to? There is no need to panic. It may simply mean it is time to change the car key battery. The easiest way to have it replaced is to go through your dealership. You may have to pay a higher price, though.
If you are on a tight budget, you can choose to change the car key battery on your own. Here are the steps:
Take a Look at the Car Key Construction
Find the screw, which is usually exposed. It is where you will open to start replacing the battery. Some car keys come with an indentation instead. You will need a flat nose screwdriver to wedge into the hollow part.
Remove the Screw Using a Phillips Screwdriver
Once done, you will see another compartment inside. It will show you the battery size that you need for the car key. Avoid using an old Phillips head screwdriver; otherwise, it might damage the key fob.
Install a New Battery
Follow the correct orientation of the old battery when you install a new one. Usually, the positive (+) side is facing upwards.
Refit the Cover of the Battery
Finally, close the car key by placing the cover back to how it was before. Make sure everything is aligned correctly. You will typically hear a clicking sound, which tells you the key is locked in.
One of the signs that your car key batteries are about to die is its diminished transmitter range. You may have to push the button harder than you used to. If you push too hard, you could end up wrecking the key fob.
If you do not have any prior experience in fixing or dealing with keys, you may want to leave the job to an auto locksmith instead.
Considerations When Getting New Keys Cut
If you have reached into your bag or pocket and you do not find your keys there, you may have a reason to panic. In case you need a replacement, one of the first solutions to look into is through a key cutting service.
Before you head out, be sure that you know the answers to the following questions first:
- Which locksmith should you go to?
- How do you know the locksmith is trustworthy?
- What type of key should you get?
- Do you need more than one key copy?
You can easily find a locksmith or key cutter on almost any neighbourhood in Australia. Some work as a repairer or even a leather goods seller. If you cannot find a key cutter near you, you can visit the closest major hardware store in your area. Often, the retailer provides key cutting services. To make your hunting task easier, you can visit the hardware’s website, if available, and find out whether or not they offer key cutting.
You should never get fooled by cheap services. They can lure you into thinking you are getting a great deal, but you could easily fall prey to their scams. As much as possible, you should stick to a local business with a local address and phone number.
It is also imperative that you check their ID and business or operating licence. All Australian states and territories require locksmith licencing. Therefore, it is unlawful to work as a locksmith if there is no legal permit and proper credentials.
Of course, you should also consider work quality when it comes to key cutting services. You may want to check the reviews of previous customers. If they are a member of some associations concerning locksmithing, there is a good chance that you are dealing with a reliable professional.
As mentioned above, there are a few types of keys. You should know what you need before you visit a key cutter. Standard keys are easy to duplicate. Make sure you do not forget the original key by taking it with you to the locksmith.
Some keys, however, require additional permissions before you can duplicate them. You may be asked to produce certain documents to ensure that you are the owner of the key.
The number of keys to copy is mostly based on your preference. It is recommended that you have at least two copies. This way, you can keep the other if ever you break or lose one of them.
When you are ready to have your keys cut or replaced, here are some options to look at:
For the cheapest, fastest, and easiest solution, turn to a locksmith with experience in car keys. This professional has all the necessary pieces of equipment for replacing different types of car keys no matter what make and model of the vehicle.
Car Insurance Provider
The next option is to go to your car insurance provider. However, it can be costly, since car keys are not always a part of the insurance policy. It may also depend on how you lost or damaged your key for the insurance company to pay for it. You may want to skip this option if you do not wish to wait too long or go through a lengthy procedure.
Some vehicle breakdown services offer car key replacements. However, you should not expect them to be quick.
Franchised Car Dealership: One more expensive and slow option is through a dealership. Usually, dealers need to get the key blank guide first, which can take a long time.
Once you have chosen which service to go for, car key replacement typically involves the following:
- For standard keys, they are cut mechanically using a simple metal carving machine and a few tools. Ridges and lines are usually cut on one part of the key only.
- Transponder keys cannot be duplicated using a machine. They come with a microchip that allows you to unlock your car whenever you have the key nearby. The locksmith should have a transponder machine instead, which will create a new key in just a few minutes. A new microchip will also be installed.
- Making a new laser cut key will require a machine. It is almost the same as a mechanically cut key, except that it is more accurate and complex. Locksmiths use a cutting machine that can cut the two sides of the shank.
If you lost your key and you have no spare, you can choose from the options above, as long as you know the type of key you have.
Essential Facts about Replacing Car Locks
Sometimes, when you change your keys, you may also have to change the car door lock. In other cases, the car lock is damaged, especially after an attempted theft, which means replacing it with a new one is the best solution.
Homeowners know the value of having their door locks rekeyed, especially when they just moved into a previously-owned property. Even brand new homes require rekeying to up the level of security. However, most car owners do not think about changing their car locks. If you have no plans of replacing your car lock, here are some reasons why you should change your mind:
- Rekeying can reduce the chances of getting burglarised. In a situation where you bought a second-hand vehicle, someone else may have a key you may not know about.
- If the locks are broken, you should have them replaced. Keys can weaken over time, and it can lead to damage, such as the keys snapping in two. One piece of the key can stay in the lock, and the only way to have it fixed is with the help of an auto locksmith.
- If your keys are stolen, it is time to rekey your car lock. Many homeowners choose to have their door locks rekeyed for the same reason.
- If you left your keys somewhere and you can no longer find them, it is time to have the car locks changed. Although you know the keys are not stolen, it is still likely that someone else has them. Stay safe by changing the locks right away.
Standard Transponder Keys
If you have a transponder key, you should call an auto locksmith to help you out. Cars made after 1995 typically have a transponder chip. This technology aimed to reduce instances of car theft significantly.
The system involves a vehicle immobiliser, which is installed in the car engine. Whenever you insert the key into the ignition, this particular immobiliser is disarmed. It allows your car to run while preventing the ability to bypass the car’s ignition interlock. It is a method known as hot wiring, which allows the vehicle to start without a key. In this case, transponders can help lower the instances of car theft.
If your car locks have been replaced, however, you may be required to have two different keys. Another option is to have the ignition lock cylinder changed as well. An auto locksmith can deal with the problem by fixing the car locks and the ignition tumbler. You then save more money when you hire a locksmith to repair or change the locks instead of going to a dealership.
In reality, modern vehicles do not require a lock replacement. You only have to contact an auto locksmith to have your existing lock reconfigured. Another option is to program out the keys that were stolen or lost.
Yes, you read that right. You can program out the lost car keys. This way, they will no longer be recognised by your car’s database. Anyone else who has your old keys will be unable to use them on your vehicle. The method typically involves a specialist diagnostic piece of equipment, which will be plugged into the car.
Car Alarm Complications That You Should Know About
We have briefly touched how transponder keys help increase vehicle safety. But how does it accomplish such a task? Transponders are not only here to make our lives much more comfortable, but also keep us safe. The keys are an addition to the things that exist today that allow virtually hands-free operation.
There is a science behind why these keys are much bigger than your standard set of keys. The technological enhancement enabled a piece of plastic to be attached at the base of the key where a micro-transponder chip is installed. It may look small and simple, but there is an advanced electronic security system under this plastic.
You should not mistake car remotes with transponders. The remote controls car locks, while transponders control the ignition. The former simply lets you lock and unlock your car over a certain distance. It does provide the convenience of sidestepping the need to insert your key into the vehicle.
On the other hand, transponders generate communication between the key and the vehicle. They are your engine’s best friend, where one cannot go without the other. The keys will send signals to the computer of the car – or the ignition itself. When received, the car will identify it is safe to start.
Without the transponder key, the auto alarm system will not be disarmed. High-end cars are a common target of thieves, which is why they require transponder systems. The keys can drastically reduce the chance of the vehicle being stolen.
Depending on the type of car key you have, it is possible to use the remote key to unlock the car and turn off its alarm. However, you still need to insert the key into the ignition to start the vehicle.
Car alarm systems have improved so much over the years. They have become more sensitive yet smarter. However, even the most high-tech cars can have certain flaws in their system, including the alarms.
One of the most common problems is a car alarm going off even when it should not.
If you have such an issue, you can try the following solutions:
First, Know What Type of Car Alarm You Currently Have
Before you try to solve the problem, you should understand the alarm your car is using. There is a big difference between an older car alarm and a new one. Older cars have their alarms installed from the factory. Meanwhile, more modern automobiles use a more innovative integrated type of alert.
Newer cars offer a convenient way of figuring out what the problem is with the alarms. Using an OBD2 scanner, owners can check the trouble codes to determine the cause of the issue.
Check the Key Fob
Whether you have an old or new car, you may already be using a key fob or a remote key. This device, as mentioned above, is used to lock and unlock the door of your car. It can also start the engine if you have keyless ignition. Key fobs are linked to the controls of your car alarm system. Therefore, if you have a malfunctioning key fob, it will send a wrong signal to your car, which can easily trigger the alarm system.
The fix can range from simple to a little complex. You should first check the key fob batteries and replace them. Above, you will find the steps on how to install new batteries for the key fob. Another solution is to reset the device, which quickly fixes most people’s problems.
In some situations, however, you may be required to reprogram your key fob, especially if your car is not responding to it.
Make Sure the Car Battery is Still Functional
Car alarms warn you if someone is trying to access your car. Apart from that, it also tells you if the battery is dying. A symptom that you have this problem is when your alarm goes off right after you switch on the engine. It indicates that you have a low battery level.
You can quickly check the battery of your car using a multimeter. You should make sure it does not go below 12.6 volts; otherwise, it indicates that you need a new battery.
Inspect the Sensitive Shock Sensor of the Vehicle
More often than not, this particular sensor triggers the car alarm to go off because of a faint touch. If your car alarm goes off because a cat or dog lightly bumps onto the vehicle, it may be due to this shock sensor.
You should fix this problem right away. The more frequent the alarm sounds off, the faster your car battery will drain. Refer to the vehicle’s manual to find out how you can configure the shock sensor.
More Troubleshooting Tips for Car Alarm Problems
How you solve the car alarm complication will depend on a few factors, including the type of system you have. If you have a keyless entry alarm, the issue usually lies on the battery inside the remote. When it starts to die down, it will become faulty. The easiest way to figure it out is to see if you can still activate or deactivate the car alarm using the remote control.
If the issue is with the programming, you may need to disable the alarm system until you can take it to a professional for checking.
Finally, wiring issues are generally due to lousy DIY installations. If you recently installed your car alarm system without the guidance of an auto electrician or mechanic, it may be the cause of the problem. It is possible that you have crossed some wires and the best way to fix it is to take it to a professional.
When it is time to replace your car keys or have your transponder reprogrammed, never DIY.
Go to trustworthy locksmiths that can give you the key or lock service you need.