Who wants to hear this from their auto transporter? A late-night call from a destination a thousand miles away – you know it can’t be good news, right?
And you are correct. The driver – the same driver who picked up your auto from your driveway, drove it onto the carrier, carefully checked for any pre-existing dents or nicks – that driver now wants you to know that he can’t find the keys, and he wonders, did he leave them with you?
OK, it’s maybe a little late to suggest this, but … it’s a good idea to get a spare key before you ship the car. Spare keys don’t cost much and you can often have them made while you wait (unless you’ve got one of those fobs that’s preprogrammed to lock and unlock doors, turn lights off and on, sound a theft alarm, etc. – that’s a job for the dealer). It’s a good idea to put the spare key inside the auto at shipping time, in an unlocked glove compartment or glove box. But like we said, it’s a little late… so let’s look at the options:
1: Call a locksmith.
The quickest way to solve the problem (but maybe a little pricier) is to authorize the driver to call a locksmith in the destination city – or you make the call yourself. An auto locksmith is a specialist who will come to your car’s location and make a new key, often while the driver or your designated pickup person waits. The locksmith will safely unlock the vehicle, then will remove a lock to see how the key needs to be cut. The new key will be coded to the car with special diagnostic equipment.
- Call a Dealer.
This could be your only option if you’re driving a car with a personalized key fob, the kind that carry sensors to let the car “know” you’re authorized to drive it. Auto dealer garages can supply replacement keys for the brands they sell, but you’ll likely have to visit their garage with your vehicle identification number and proof of ID.
From the vehicle’s chassis number, the dealer can order a new key that will fit your locks. But when that key arrives you’ll have to get your car to their workshop for the key to be programmed and matched to the car (that’s why it’s best to do all this with a dealer located in the city where your car is sitting, undriveable). Be prepared to wait up to 5 days for the key to arrive at the dealer.
3: Try an online replacement
It’s possible to purchase a blank key from eBay or other online stores, but this is only an option if you(or your driver or pickup person) are mechanically inclined and prepared to remove a lock from your car. From there, a locksmith should be able to take your lock apart and cut your key to fit. Just remember that most cars built after 2000 will have a factory fitted immobilizer, which means that the key will need to be coded to start the vehicle, all costing an unacceptable amount of lost time. Click here to find out more.
Once again, the spare key sounds like an excellent idea, no? We’d suggest you do that now, even before you solidify your shipping arrangements.