• August 19, 2022

  • Abby Nuttall

  • Articles

We know that when you manage a fleet of company vehicles there are a lot of different responsibilities to look after, one of which is making sure that your drivers have access to them. Car keys can disappear at the most inopportune times which is why we wanted to round up all the essential info on getting replacement keys in one easy place, as well as our tips for making sure you’re never left with a locked vehicle you can’t get into.

The Types of Car Keys

There are four main types of car keys and you should know which type of key each of your vehicles uses as this will help you to understand the time and cost that potential repairs and replacements will need.

The first type of key is simply a mechanical key and you will usually only see this on older models or for the spare key of a vehicle. These keys will need to be inserted into the lock to unlock and lock the vehicle as well as to start the ignition.

You can then get remote keys which have buttons on them that are used to unlock the vehicle, and for some open the boot only. These can have a retractable physical key on them to be used in the ignition or you simply insert the fob into a push start system.

The final type of key is a transponder one, which uses wireless signals to transmit codes for various functions including unlocking the vehicle and starting the engine and can do so without you even needing to touch them.


Why You Might Need Replacement Vehicle Keys

There are a few reasons why you might need to get a replacement key for one of your vehicles including:

  • The existing key is damaged or faulty
  • The existing key is lost
  • The existing key is stolen
  • An employee has left the business and has not yet returned vehicle keys

Whether you need a replacement key will be dependent on the circumstances, for example with some key damage you’ll be able to get the key repaired instead of replaced or if the vehicle is not needed and you’re expecting keys back from a driver then you can wait until they are returned.

The most commonly repaired damage includes; a snapped key, a worn-out key or a broken transponder chip so we recommend checking whether a damaged or faulty key can be repaired before arranging a replacement.

How to Avoid Being Locked Out

Before we look at how to get a replacement key, we first wanted to give you our top five tips to avoid having to do this.

1. Keep a spare key for all your vehicles in the fleet management department

2. Add key tags or trackers to key chains to allow you to retrieve them if they are lost or stolen

3. Provide information to your employees on how they can keep their car keys safe at home and while out and about

4. You can also provide products such as faraday pouches which protect the keys from being hacked for relay theft

5. If you have retractable keys then ask drivers to make sure these are folded in when the key is not in use to avoid accidental damage

Where to Get Replacement Keys for Your Vehicles

We know that not everything can be avoided though and there will be times when you need to get a replacement key for one of your vans or cars. There are four main locations where you are able to get a new key:

  • A main dealership
  • Your local garage
  • An auto locksmith
  • Via your breakdown cover

A main dealership will usually be the most expensive and timely option as they do not usually keep spare keys on the premises. However, you can be assured the key you get will meet your needs and come with the quality implied by using the brand’s own garage services.

A local garage will also be able to arrange a new key for you. Again as this is not their main service you might find there’s a longer wait to get a new key, and not all garages will have the necessary equipment or training in order to provide this service so you may need to contact multiple garages in order to find one who can replace a key for you.

An auto locksmith is a type of locksmith who is specifically trained to work with vehicular locks and keys. They will usually be the best choice for you as most offer mobile services, can advise on repairs as well as replacements and will usually have blank keys available so be the quickest option to get the vehicle back in use.

Some breakdown cover providers will also offer key replacements as part of their service but this is not guaranteed so we recommend checking your contract before using this option. As a lost / damaged key is not one of their primary services or considered an emergency it may take a little while for you to be able to get a replacement key via this option.

What You Need to Get Replacement Keys

To avoid criminal activities most key makers will require some proof of identity and ownership before repairing a key, making a new one or deactivating an existing key.

They will usually request:

  • Proof of identity such as a driving licence or passport
  • Proof of ownership of the vehicle, or if it a lease car or a driver is obtaining the key for their company car proof of authorisation to use the vehicle and make a replacement key

How Long Will a Replacement Key Take?

The time it takes for you to get a replacement key depends on a number of factors including:

  • Who you decide to get the new key from, so which of the above choices you opt for
  • The type of key needed so whether it is a remote fob, has keyless entry or is a transponder
  • The make and model of the vehicle
  • Whether the key cutter has a suitable blank key in stock

In general, an auto locksmith will be the quickest option as they are the most likely to have blank keys in stock the other routes will typically have to order a suitable key from the manufacturer which can take a few days.

How Much Does a Replacement Car Key Cost?

The exact cost of a key also depends on a number of different factors but you’ll find they generally cost between £100 and £400.

Things that can impact the price are:

  • How quickly you need the key
  • The time of day, or night, you contact the new key provider
  • Who you choose to get the new key from
  • The make and model of your vehicle
  • The type of key needed, remote fobs and transponders have more tech in them so cost more
  • If you also need a missing key deactivating

Replacement Keys for Lease Vehicle

More and more businesses are choosing to lease vehicles and if you need to get a new key for a leased vehicle then this will take a little longer.

The funder is the legal owner of the car and so they will be the ones who receive the V5C which would be used for proof of ownership when getting the new key cut. You can request a copy of this from them along with documentation to show that you are authorised to have a new key cut.

One thing to note is that with a lease car you will need to return the vehicle with the same number and type of keys as it was delivered with. So this means that you’ll need to replace the key with like for like even if a cheaper option would work just as well for you.


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