More and more new cars have smart keys and remotes that let you unlock the door and start the engine without a key. The devices are a marvel of technology and convenience … until you lose one and have to pay up to $500 to replace it at your dealership. Instead, try these tips for hanging on to your high-tech car keys and ways to make replacing them less painful:
Hard to Lose
First things first: Train yourself to treat keys differently, says Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book KBB, a vehicle valuation and information source used by consumers and the automotive industry. Attaching your keyless-entry remote or fob to a larger item like a wallet or handbag makes it harder to lose. Brauer carries a compartmentalized athletic bag that holds his laptop, wallet and key. I walk up to the car, pass my hand near the unlock button, then push the engine start button on the dash,” he says. “My key never leaves the bag.”
The Backup Plan
Don’t wait until keys are missing to make duplicates. Price out what they would cost, then look into alternatives,” suggests Brauer. “Find out where your particular brand of replacements are available and order them ahead of time.” This way, you won’t end up stranded for days without keys.
Tag Your Stuff
As auto-key technologies improve, so do the means of tracking lost goods. For example, Austrian-based company Locca offers miniature GPS-powered trackers that attach to small items. Should your stuff go missing, you can track it on the Locca app in real time. An alternative to GPS locators, Okoban tracker tags let you register items with the company’s global lost-and-found service. Attach a tag to your keys; whoever finds them can follow the goodness of their heart and tell you where the keys are by entering an identification code online.
If your keys are lost for good, replacements from your dealership can be expensive. But sites like eBay, KeylessRide and others offer after-market and factory keys that are often considerably cheaper. You may need to visit your dealer to have your new keys programmed (for a fee) and you still may need to pay a locksmith if your smart system includes a good old-fashioned metal key. The total cost should still be lower, and the relief, as they say, priceless.
Losing your keys is a minor annoyance compared with having your car stolen. Read GEICO’s 12 tips to prevent your car being stolen.
Have you ever lost your car keys? Tell us about it below.
By Maria Carter