Whether it’s for your car or home, you might need to copy a key for many reasons. Perhaps it’s to celebrate a transition in your relationship, a petsitter needs access to your home, or you may have just lost the darn thing.
So, what are your options when it’s time to make a key? If you thought a big-box hardware store was the only choice, think again.
Today, we’ll cover the many convenient ways around town to have a new key cut.
Making a Key Copy
For a long time, locksmithing was a mysterious craft with various approaches used from one family to another. But now, auto key machines take the hard work out of cutting grooves on the broach so it’ll unlatch your lock. They work by lining up a blank with the original as a cutting guide.
Some keys are considered high-performance. They’re complex and accurate and may need a specialized service to duplicate.
Car keys are even more complicated and may require specific hardware. Newer ones often have built-in transponders that emit a radio signal, and they’ll need to be programmed with your vehicle to start the engine.
It’s best to have the original key anytime you need a copy made. If not, each generation will be slightly less accurate. But a locksmith can still make one even if they’ve all been lost. A professional just needs to examine your lock to get the specs.
Pro Tip: Getting locked out of your car sucks! Use these tips on How To Get Into Your Locked Vehicle Without a Key to get back on the road quick.
7 Ways to Make a Key Copy
If you’re looking to get a copy of a key, there are several places to can check. But remember, not every spot has the equipment to make a new set for your car.
One thing to consider is that you’ll have to call a locksmith to get a key made without the original. If there’s no key to copy, a professional is your only hope.
#1 Key Making Kiosks
These handy little vending machines can spit out a key in less than one minute. And it should only cost about $3. One of the most common is minuteKEY. However, you’re out of luck if you need anything more complicated than a standard cut.
But some kiosks like KeyMe can also make a higher-quality office or car key. They can even copy access cards and fobs. The best part of these stations is that many are available 24/7, so you can get it done at your convenience.
#2 Grocery Stores
Most grocery stores will hook you up with a spare key. They’ll either have an employee that can make it or a self-serve kiosk. Smaller shops may not have what you need, but larger chains like Kroger, Shopeway, ALDI, and HEB are good spots to try.
You can roll it into your regular shopping routine without making an extra trip. Just remember, there’s no guarantee they’ll have exactly what you need. Grocery stores that make keys tend to only have the basics in stock.
#3 Auto Stores
Losing your car keys is incredibly frustrating. But there’s a chance an auto parts store can cut a new set of keys to your wheels, and they’ll also have an RFID to program it or a fob.
PepBoys, AutoZone, and even small local shops offer the service for the most common car models. They’ll even do it for cheaper than a dealership would. However, there are some newer vehicles they can’t help with, so call ahead first.
But if you’ve lost the original, you’ll need to explore other options to make a new key from scratch.
#4 Big Box Stores
Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, and many other big box stores can make a copy of your key. Just about any store that specializes in home improvement can help you out. These stores usually have a more comprehensive selection of key types, including cute designs, if you want to pay a little extra.
They’ll either have self-serve kiosks or a dedicated employee to craft a new set. This will be around the same price point as other stores, but they can also copy older car keys.
Locksmiths can often craft a new key simply by examining the existing lock. In some cases, they may need to replace the lock. This service will cost a little more, but you’re paying for their expertise.
You’ll get higher quality cuts with a professional. They also offer on-site service. You can usually find local locksmiths with a quick internet search. People worried about kiosks storing their data on an app prefer the security of this old-fashioned approach. Many of them have the equipment necessary to program transponders and key fobs, as well as make laser cuts.
As cars increase in complexity, so does the equipment you need to start them. Vehicles with keyless start-up usually cost more to get a copy made. You can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $500 for a dealership key, depending on the vehicle.
Simple transponder keys run on the cheaper side of the spectrum. Dealerships may also be harder to get in and out of quickly. Sometimes you can save money by buying aftermarket parts and using the car manual to program it yourself.
#7 Key Apps
You can use several apps to have a copy of your key made from the convenience of anywhere. Once it’s ready, you can pick it up at the nearest kiosk or have it sent in the mail if you’re not in a rush.
If the key is for someone else, you can even send the scan to a friend and have them make it and pick it up on their time. This is convenient for people who own properties in different towns. However, these apps aren’t always perfect. It’s be frustrating to get a bad cut made and having to try again.
Key Copy Centers are More Convenient than Ever
As you can see, there’s no shortage of options. But unless you’re working with a pro, there’s always a chance you’ll get a faulty cut. Always try out a new copy of your key before you hand it off.
Plan ahead and make extras before you need them. That way, you’ll always have a spare in case you lose one. And don’t bother hiding them in those fake rocks. You’re not fooling anyone there.
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