Years ago, car keys didn’t look that much different to any other type of key you’d find on your keyring. You could go to your local DIY shop and have one cut for a few pounds, put it in your ignition and away you go. 

Nowadays, car keys are packed with technology like immobiliser chips and remote locking features, not to mention keyless entry keys that don’t even have keys on them anymore. 

car immobilizer

Why You Might Need to Do This

If you happen to lose your car keys, you can get another key cut, but you’ll need to program it to your car before it works again. You can pay a car locksmith to do this, but if you do it yourself you can save yourself quite a lot of money.

You might want to cut a new key just so you have an extra one for friends or family to use. You can never have enough spare car keys, and it’s a lot easier to reprogram a new single key than replace the entire entry system.

It’s also the only course of action you can take if your car key breaks. If the chip inside your key gets wet or damaged, it will probably stop working. If you have a spare key that’s already programmed to your car, you can get a new one cut and program that one too. 

lost car keys

Key Programming Method

Programming a key can be done yourself. The best way to find out the correct way for your key and car is to look in your car manual, talk to a trusted mechanic, or scour the internet for advice.

Be warned! It’s well worth finding out beforehand if it’s possible to program your car key yourself. A lot of newer cars have high-tech transponders that are locked to everyone except main dealers and bonded auto locksmiths, for security reasons.  

The way to program a newly cut car key normally follows these steps:

  1. Colour code or number your keys so that you know which one is which 
  2. Sit in the driver’s seat as this gives you the easiest access to the ignition
  3. Close the doors as this can affect the car’s security systems
  4. Insert a programmed key that you know can start the car
  5. Leave it there for a few seconds, then turn it to the first ignition position, then the second (ACC) so that the car’s computer is activated. Don’t turn on the engine.
  6. Once the car’s computer has switched on, turn the ignition off all the way and remove the key
  7. Insert the unprogrammed key within 10 seconds
  8. Turn the key to the second ignition position (ACC) and leave it there until the computer activates. The turn it off again but leave the key in the ignition
  9. Look at your dashboard, a key or other security symbol should light up or flash for a few seconds
  10. You might need to press the unlock or lock button on your key fob to finish the process, but otherwise your key is ready to go. Remove it from the ignition and you’re ready to go

ignition ACC key position

Fob Programming Method

Rather like programming your new car key, you can follow the steps below to set up your unprogrammed fob. Check your car manual or an owner’s forum for the precise method for your car make and model, but this is the most common way we’ve found. Make sure your fob has fresh batteries and you’re ready to get going.

  1. Get inside the car and close the doors, as this can affect the security system otherwise
  2. Put the key in the ignition and turn it to the second position (ACC) to turn on the car’s computer. Don’t start the engine
  3. Press the “lock” button on your key fob to close the doors immediately after
  4. Quickly turn off the ignition again
  5. You’ll probably have to repeat steps 2-4 with any other key fobs you have, as the process can deprogram all the fobs on the system
  6. Try the “unlock” button. If it works then you have successfully programmed your keys

sitting in ignition position

Key Replacement Method

Sometimes you’ll need to get hold of a full replacement for a lost or broken car key. We’ll take you through some of the steps necessary to program a “blank” key. 

Once again, we have found the most common method of key replacement, but you should consult your car manual or main dealer to find out the precise method for your make and model or car. 

  1. You can purchase a blank key for your car online or from your main dealer. Make sure it’s the correct one for your make, model and year to avoid any problems
  2. You’ll have to get the blank key part cut by a car locksmith; this isn’t a job you can do yourself at home
  3. When you get in touch with a car locksmith, they’ll need your vehicle identification number (VIN). You can find this in your car’s V5C documents as well as on the bottom corner of your car windscreen.
  4. The locksmith will need other forms of identification for you and your car, so make sure you have all your documentation in order before you take your car in. They’ll need to verify that you’re the rightful owner of the car before they can cut a new set of keys.

car key cutting


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