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Locksmith Portland: Common Questions About Replacement Car Keys

Updated: Mar 28

Replacement car key options can differ depending on the model of car that you have, as there are many different types of car keys. Today, we are back to address the most common questions we receive in regard to making replacement car keys.





Why Can't a Supermarket Make a Copy of My Car Key?


Car keys are very different than your average house key. Car keys require a special key cutting machine that ensures your key works perfectly in your car. Most cars made from 1998 to the present also require the key to be programmed in order to start the car. Your local supermarket or hardware store does not have updated or required equipment to cut most car keys, or to program car keys.


There are a few older models of cars whose keys can technically be copied by an average machine at an average hardware store. However, for these keys, you would need the original key to copy and you also run the risk of the cut not being deep or clean enough, causing your key to not work.


Our locksmiths in Portland OR, locksmiths in Salem OR and locksmiths in Vancouver WA have the knowledge and equipment to cut a car key from scratch that will work perfectly with your car.


I don't have my original car key, can you still make a replacement car key?


If you’ve lost your original car key, our Portland locksmiths do not need the original key to make a replacement. Auto locksmiths use your car’s vehicle identification number, or VIN, to gain the required information needed to make a new key. In some makes and models of cars, we can read the code needed to make a new key from the lock on your door, trunk or even your ignition.





Do I have to replace my ignition if I lost my car key?


The short answer to this question is no - you don’t always need to replace the ignition if you have lost your only key. Especially in newer cars, replacing the ignition when you lose your car key is not necessary. However, most cars made around 1985 and earlier do require a new ignition because key codes are simply not available therefore a locksmith technician doesn’t know how the key needs to be cut.


Other situations where an ignition replacement would be necessary is if your ignition is damaged or if your ignition has previously been replaced. If you have a key that unlocks your car door and a separate key that starts your car, your ignition was most likely previously replaced.


If you’re still not sure whether an ignition replacement is needed in order for you to get a replacement key, our locksmiths in Salem OR, Portland locksmiths and Vancouver locksmiths in Vancouver WA can help answer any questions you may have.


I have a transponder key, do I have to go to the dealership to program that?


At 24 Hour Lock and Key, our locksmith technicians have the tools and skills needed to program virtually any year, make and model of car key at a more affordable price than the dealership.


A trip to the dealership is only needed for very specific makes and models of cars. A small number of car manufacturers do not allow third-parties, such as locksmiths, access to certain information, including programming software for keys. This is not common with the majority of cars on the road in Oregon and Southern Washington, so it’s not necessary to always over-pay at the dealership in order to program your car key.


My neighbor said he programmed his own car key, can I do that too?


Some transponder keys can be programmed by performing a series of actions that put the car into “learn mode” to accept a new key. This is called onboard programming, but can only be done with a select group of vehicles.

Even on cars that accept this type of programming, onboard programming procedures are timed, can be very difficult to get right and most of the time you need a current working key.


When our locksmiths in Portland OR, locksmiths in Salem OR and locksmiths in Vancouver, WA program your key, we use updated technology and equipment to make sure your new key works just like the original.





I don't understand the difference between FOBs, remotes and transponder keys. Are they the same thing?


There are many styles of car keys, especially with the evolution of automotive technology. Most cars manufactured before the year 1998 use good old-fashioned regular silver keys. Regular car keys do not need to be programmed.


A transponder key, also called a chip key, looks like a normal key with a black or rubber head. Transponder keys are inserted normally into the ignition and need to be programmed to the car's computer in order to start it.


Remote keys have a large head with buttons to lock and unlock your car doors and sometimes trunk. There are also stand-alone remotes, separate from the car key, that have the same button functions. Both remote keys and remotes require programming in order to work with your vehicle.


Fobiks are keys that have a flat end that resembles a USB drive. Fobiks are used for keyless entry into your car and start your engine by inserting the flat end into a small slot on the dashboard. Fobiks are programmed to your vehicle in order to work properly.


A key FOB is also known as a proximity key. FOBs are used with push-to-start vehicles that allow for keyless entry and starting the ignition when in an appropriate range. Proximity FOB’s generally come with a small emergency key that can be cut and programmed in case your FOB stops working. FOBs also need to be programmed in order to work with your car.


Our professional auto locksmiths in Portland handle all these types of keys for almost every year, make and model of car.


About 24 Hour Lock and Key


Check out our post on Top 5 Reasons to Call an Automotive Locksmith for more information on our automotive locksmith services.


If you would like to know more about our locksmith Portland qualifications, visit our about page to see info on our licenses and accreditations. We are a family-run business that has operated as a locksmith service in Portland OR since 2018. We also have Salem locksmiths and locksmiths in southern Washington, including Vancouver locksmiths, Camas locksmiths and Battleground locksmiths.

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