I know cars. And motorcycles, and boats, and RVs, and even airplanes! If it rolls, floats, or flies, I probably have a key for it.
I stock keys, remotes, smart keys, and integrated key/remote sets for most popular vehicles. I also sell and install batteries for all of the above, and can repair many remotes and integrated remote keys.
Whether you’ve lost all the keys (fobs) to your 2016 Lexus or just need a spare for your 1939 Plymouth, I’ve got you covered. There are a few vehicles I can’t help you with (Jags/Fords with Tibbe keys, Porsche 928, a few others), but in most cases I can tell you who can.
Less snarky answer: There is no such thing as a “car master key”. There are ‘jiggler’ keys, pick keys, and the like that are essentially purpose-built lock picks, but there are no guarantees that they’ll work even on the models they’re designed for. In fact, they tend to only work on a very limited range of models, and then only with practice. Sorry, no, you can’t borrow my lock picks or car opening tools.
• My car isn’t starting/running right and the mechanic working on it says it’s a key/security system/ theft system issue. Can you fix that?
I’m extremely skeptical when these calls come in.
Most theft deterrent systems are fairly robust, and provided no major components have been changed or damaged (engine computer, body control module, ignition lock, instrument cluster, etc.) and the key or immobilizer antenna has not sustained any physical damage, it’s doubtful it’s an immobilizer issue, and consequently, not something we can fix. Most of our diagnostic
equipment is limited to key and remote programming. . . some components require dealer-level or highly specialized equipment to reprogram if necessary.
It has been my experience that the immobilizer system is often named as the source of the problem when the other possible “easy” solutions have been attempted. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had customers (or mechanics) tell me “it won’t start so I replaced the fuel pump, starter, computer, etc, and none of that worked so it must be the theft system!”. Really? Did you check codes first? In most of those cases the problem winds up being something like a bad module, failed relay, broken wire, blown fuse, etc., and not the immobilizer system.
That said, feel free to contact me (email preferred) and include as many details as possible, such as year/make/model of the vehicle, symptoms, what components have been changed (if any), what diagnostic codes are present and what equipment was used to retrieve them.
Please note that the best indicator of whether or not a no-start condition is related to the key is the immobilizer status light itself. It’s usually in the instrument cluster, although Ford and Toyota/Lexus have placed it in random spots on the dash over the years. See your owner’s manual for info on where the immobilizer light is located and how it should behave when the system is operating normally. If it indicates an abnormal condition, we may be able to help.
• Can you provide a spare fob for my pushbutton start (prox) car?
In most cases, yes. I don’t stock many but can have them overnight or within a couple of days.
• I have a VW/Audi/BMW/Mercedes/Volvo/Bentley/Ferarri/Lamborghini, can you make a spare or first key for it?
Older vehicles, yes. I can do BMW/Mini through about 2005. Most other European keys I can make provided they are not immobilizer equipped. I no longer do VW or Audi after 1998. I gave up on Saab except for the rebadged vehicles (9-2x, 9-7x, etc.). 1998+ Volvo: I can furnish cut keys but there is no reliable/affordable 3rd party solution for programming them. Clayton charges $130 per session, in a pinch I can provide the keys and you can take it to them for programming.
• I lost the keys to my Toyota, Lexus, Honda, or Acura and I’m told I need to buy a whole new computer. Can you help?
Yes. And you won’t need to buy a new computer. I can offer this service by mail if you are not in my local area and have the ability to remove the affected computer and one of the locks (door or trunk) and reinstall it. Call or (preferably) email our shop for details.
• I have a car lot and need someone to stop by periodically to cut spare keys for my inventory at wholesale price. Do you offer this service?
Yes, provided you’re flexible on time and in my service area, which includes Loudon and Monroe counties. I’ll go outside of that area if the amount of money you’re planning to spend with me justifies the trip. You’re in business too. . .you understand. I do ask that you provide me a list by email or fax with what vehicles you need spare keys for prior to my visit. Makes things heaps easier as I can make absolutely sure what keys/fobs/programmers I’ll need to bring.
• Do you assist with vehicle repossessions?
Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full. I’m happy to provide lost key replacement service once the vehicle is in a safe & secure location but I’m well past the age of finding any thrills in situations like that.
• Do you unlock cars?
Sure, but 95% of the time I refer that service to a few local wrecker companies I’ve determined are pretty good, a lot more available, and charge less. Generally speaking I only unlock cars if I’m in the process of making a key for it, or if it’s a vehicle that requires special skills/knowledge/tools to unlock, such as BMW and Mercedes models.
• I read that if my car has remote keyless entry, and I find myself locked out, I can have someone call with a spare remote and unlock it by sending the signal through the phone. Is that true?
No. It’s been thoroughly debunked on places like Mythbusters and Snopes.com.
• Speaking of remotes: I left my car running with the key in the ignition and locked it up but took the remote with me. When I came back, the remote wouldn’t work (and I was locked out and had to pay you guys to unlock it). What gives? Why didn’t the remote work?
Many vehicles have keyless entry systems that only work when the vehicle is off and the key is out of the ignition. We strongly advise against leaving a car running with the key in the ignition, locked up or not, as it makes an easy target for an opportunistic car thief. However, should you insist, we suggest testing the remote first with the window down before trusting it’ll be able to get you back into the car. . . or carry a spare key with you.
• I’ve lost my car keys. Can you make a new one for me from my car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)?
I can almost always make a replacement key via conventional means (i.e. go to your car and fit one by decoding a lock or locks, retrieving a code, or in rare cases, by replacing one or more locks), however, I generally cannot make a key from a VIN. The only organizations that store key information by VIN are the automakers, and typically only allow their dealers access to this data. Dealer personnel are actively discouraged from sharing this data with third parties (locksmiths) and often subject to dismissal if they do. In short, you, the vehicle owner, have a better chance of getting a key code than I do. Fortunately I don’t need them.
Please note that keys-by-VIN only works with vehicles which do not use transponder-based immobilizer systems. If you have a car that requires a programmed transponder key to start the engine, you’ll still need to hire someone to drive out and program the key, or have your vehicle towed to someone who can provide the service.