What Should You Do If You’ve Lost Your Car Keys?

Losing your car keys can be a frustrating experience. Typically, it happens at the least convenient time possible, and whether you’re at home, at work, or out and about, you don’t notice that you’ve lost them until you try to access your car. In this article, we look at some practical steps you can take upon discovering you’ve lost your keys.

Lost Car Keys: What Should You Do?

Here we provide our 4-step guide on what to do when you’ve lost your car keys.


1. Retrace Your Steps

As with any lost object, your first act should be to retrace your steps to see if you’ve simply misplaced them. Can you remember the last time you had your keys in your hand? If so, try to picture what happened next and follow that route accordingly. More often than not, by doing so, you will find your keys, perhaps carelessly tossed onto a desk, thrown into a drawer, or something similar.

Speaking of drawers, turn them out anywhere that you might realistically have stored your keys. This includes drawers in your desk at work, coat pockets, your handbag, briefcase, or backpack, and so on. Even if you would never usually put your keys there, it’s worth giving these items a once-over. After all, a couple of minutes to check these locations could save you the cost of a car key replacement.

2. Work Out the Type of Replacement You Need

There are different types of car keys, and each requires different skills, materials, and equipment to replace. Knowing what type of key you have lost will determine how you go about getting a replacement. These are the most common types of car keys in the UK:

Traditional Car Keys

If your car was built in the 1990s or earlier, it probably has a traditional key. Just like a door key, this is a strip of metal with a notched edge that physically activates the tumblers in the lock or ignition. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.

Key Fobs

Key fobs became a staple of car ownership in the 1990s, allowing you to unlock your car door (or set your alarm) with the press of a button. If you lose your key fob, there’s no immediate panic. These types of cars can still be opened with the physical key you use to start the ignition. All you need to do in this instance is buy a new fob and reprogram it at your leisure.

Switchblade Key

This combines a key and a fob into one handy device. You use the fob to unlock the door, then unfold the key blade when you need to pop it into the ignition. While it’s less cumbersome than a separate key and fob, this type does pose a problem, namely that if you lose your fob, you lose your key as well and will need to instruct a locksmith to replace it.

Transponder Key

Transponder keys include a chip that connects wirelessly with your car as an additional security measure. You can only unlock the door and start the car if the chip matches the car’s signature, making it impossible for thieves to hotwire your car.

Smart Key

A smart key is similar to a transponder key but uses wireless technology to activate a proximity sensor in your car. This means you can unlock, enter, and start the car without using a key blade of any description.

car key type

3. Is Your Replacement Key Covered?

Many insurance policies and breakdown cover packages include the replacement of lost car keys as one of their benefits. Depending on the wording of the policy, this can save you the cost of replacing your keys without affecting your no-claims bonus.

4. Find a reputable auto-locksmith

Once you know what kind of car key you’re getting replaced and whether or not your insurance will cover it, it’s time to find a trained local auto locksmith to provide you with a replacement. There are several things you should check with them before instructing them to make sure they are up to the job.

Their online reputation

Visit their Google business page, their Checkatrade profile, and any other trade comparison site you can think of. You need to check out their average rating and read a couple of reviews at both ends of the spectrum to get a feel for their customer service standards.

Do they handle your type of key?

There’s no point in hiring a transponder chip expert to replace a traditional car key if they don’t have the tools or experience to complete the job.

Do they offer a mobile service?

If you’ve lost your car keys, there’s a good chance you’re stuck away from your home address. Does your auto locksmith travel to you to provide a replacement? If not, try somewhere else.

Are they there when you need them?

Some auto locksmiths only operate during regular office hours, which is fine until you lose your keys over a Bank Holiday weekend or after a late shift at work.

5. Protect against losing your car keys again

Now that you’ve replaced your lost car keys, it’s important to take steps to avoid losing them again. While you can’t plan for every eventuality, the following few hints and tips should make it a little easier to protect yourself from losing your keys in the future:

Keep a spot for your keys

If you leave your keys in the same place every time you come home, you minimise the risk of losing them. After all, they should always be in their designated spot. Anywhere will do, so long as you use the same place every day. It will soon become a habit.

Keep a spare

If you already have a spare key made, you can avoid the rigamarole of finding and instructing an auto locksmith the next time you lose your original. A good idea is to leave a spare with a trusted friend or family member who will be able to bring it to you if you lose your original while you’re out and about.

Buy a Bluetooth key tracker

Bluetooth key trackers attach to your key ring and emit a unique electronic signature that you can trace using an app on your phone. This device, combined with retracing your steps, can often have you locating a lost set of keys in next to no time.

What To Do When You Lose Your Car Keys: Final Thoughts

If you’ve lost your keys in the Portsmouth or Hampshire area and need a local auto locksmith you can trust, get in touch with TCM Automotive today. We offer a 24/7 emergency car locksmith service for exactly this kind of situation, ensuring you have the help of a qualified and experienced professional when you need them most. Call us on 07581 033 606 to see what we can do for you.