Can a Locksmith Make a New Car Key?


There are many reasons why one would need a new key for a vehicle. Whether someone has lost a key or simply needs another key for a vehicle, locksmiths stand ready to help. However, there are some limits on what locksmiths can do with modern vehicles.

Can a locksmith make a new car key if I have the keys?

Whether a locksmith can make a new car key depends upon the type of car and the type of key requested.

A locksmith can generally make a full set of keys for an automobile made during or prior to the 1908s. Older cars use standard pin-and-tumbler ignition systems. Like any other lock, the key pushes the tumblers into the proper position and frees the locking mechanism, allowing the cylinder to turn. This would immediately start the car. Locksmiths can easily make duplicate keys for older cars.

In the 1990s and through the early 2000s, auto manufacturers began installing electronic transponders in the keys as an anti-theft measure. These transponder chips were designed specifically to prevent individuals from forcing the lock, using shaved keys, and using keys that were duplicated without owner authorization. The transponder keys communicate with a receiver in the car that enables the vehicle to be started. To start the car, one needs original keys created by an auto dealer.


When can a locksmith make a new car key? Modern automobile doors and trunks still operate with standard locking mechanisms, however. One does not need a transponder key to access the interior of a vehicle or the trunk. Thus, individuals who are concerned about being locked out of their cars can take their keys to a locksmith and have him or her cut new keys that will enable access to the car, but not the ignition.

Locksmiths cannot make ignition keys for new vehicles.

What if I don’t have the keys?

Can a locksmith make a new car key from an existing cylinder? The answer is yes, although there are caveats. To create a new key for existing cylinders, locksmiths will need access to the cylinders. They can then use a variety of tools to assess the individual tumblers inside the locks and cut new keys for those cylinders. Individuals who want to save money can remove the locks themselves and bring them to the locksmith so as not to have to pay the locksmith for a trip to the vehicle’s location.

As mentioned above, modern anti-theft measures prevent the locksmith from making an ignition key if the ignition key requires an electronic chip. Thwarting those anti-theft measures is very difficult. Owners are relegated to paying inflated dealer prices for ignition keys for new cars.