DB Car Keys

How To Get a Replacement Car Key Without the Original

How To Get a Replacement Car Key Without the Original

Few things are more frustrating than being locked out of your own vehicle because you’ve misplaced your keys or they were stolen. Beyond the inconvenience, not having access to your car can seriously disrupt your daily routine and plans. If you find yourself in this situation without the original key, you’ll need to act quickly to get a replacement.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the steps and options for obtaining a new car key, even if you don’t have the original. We’ll cover getting keys from the dealership, automotive locksmiths, specialized key replacement services like db car keys, and more. By the end, you’ll know exactly what to do to regain access to your vehicle in a timely and cost-effective manner.

The Importance of Having a Working Car Key Before we dive into the specifics of replacement keys, it’s important to understand why having access to your vehicle is so critical. Obviously, not being able to drive your car anywhere is a huge inconvenience. But there are other concerns at play as well:


A potential thief having access to your car is a major security risk to the vehicle itself and any valuables inside. They could burglarize your car or even steal it entirely.


Being stranded somewhere without your car in bad weather or an unsafe area can quickly become a hazard to your personal safety and wellbeing.


Replacing an entire vehicle is far more expensive than getting a new key made. Protecting your investment by having working keys is important.

For these reasons and more, getting a new key as soon as possible should be a top priority if yours is lost or stolen. The good news is there are several options available that we’ll explore in-depth.

Option 1: Dealership

The Dealership One of the most common routes for replacement keys is going directly through a franchised dealership of your vehicle’s brand. Dealerships have the necessary equipment and software from automakers to program and cut new keys for the specific make, model, and year.

Pros of Dealership Keys:

  • Guaranteed compatibility and programming for your vehicle
  • Ability to purchase remote fobs and keyless entry remotes if needed
  • New keys come with fresh transponder chips for security
  • Convenient all-in-one solution at the dealer

Cons of Dealership Keys:

  • Typically the most expensive option due to higher overhead
  • Longer waiting periods if they need to order specific key blanks
  • Limited availability for keys for older models over 10-15 years
  • Must provide proof of ownership documentation

If you take the dealership route, expect to pay $200-$400 or more for a new transponder key and remote combination. Standard metal keys can range from $50-$150. Prices tend to be higher for luxury brands.

The dealer is a good option if you need a replacement quickly, want peace of mind on the quality, and are less concerned about the higher costs. They may be your only choice for very new models using advanced key fobs.

Option 2: An Automotive Locksmith

Automotive locksmiths have become an increasingly popular choice for replacement car keys in recent years. As vehicles implemented transponder chips and electronic fobs, locksmiths invested in the equipment and training to service modern security keys.

Pros of Locksmith Keys:

  • Generally more affordable than the dealership
  • Can cut and program keys for a wide range of vehicles
  • Advanced locksmiths have tools for programming transponder keys
  • Mobile services available in many areas

Cons of Locksmith Keys:

  • Quality can vary between individual locksmiths
  • May not have the latest equipment for very new vehicles
  • Have to verify they can program transponders before making an appointment
  • Getting separate key fob and transponder key may cost more

Using an automotive locksmith will typically cost between $100-$300 for a transponder key replacement with programming. Laser-cut keys can range from $80-$200. Prices for standard metal key copies will run $30-$100 or less.

Locksmiths specialize in automotive keys, so they can often get you a replacement faster than the higher-volume dealerships. However, verify they have the proper equipment for your vehicle and transponder programming ahead of time.

Option 3: Automotive Key Replacement Services

In recent years, many companies have emerged that specialize in automotive replacement keys, like db car keys. These specialized services invest in the latest equipment and work specifically on key replacement and fob programming for a wide range of vehicles.

Pros of Replacement Services:

  • Domain expertise in key replacement for nearly any vehicle
  • Cost-effective alternative to the dealership
  • Mobile services and faster turnaround times
  • Often have access to harder-to-find key blanks
  • Competitive pricing and volume discounts

Cons of Replacement Services:

  • May not service extremely new or exotic vehicles
  • Have to verify they support your specific year/make/model
  • Fewer locations than dealerships/locksmiths in some areas
  • Transponder and fob programming could cost extra

The pricing for automotive key replacement services like db car keys tends to fall somewhere between locksmiths and the dealership rates. Expect to pay around $120-$300 for a transponder key replacement with programming, $90-$200 for laser-cut keys, and $40-$120 for a basic key copy.

These specialized services have become popular due to their focus on key replacement and transparent pricing. Many also offer mobile service or short wait times to get you back on the road quickly.

Option 4: Self-Service Key Copying

For a basic key replacement with no transponder chip involved, you may be able to simply have a new key cut yourself at hardware stores, big box retailers, or self-service kiosks. This could be an option for standard house keys or very old vehicles without modern security keys.

Pros of Self-Service Keys:

  • Affordable option, often under $5 per metal key copy
  • Very fast and convenient for basic keys
  • No need for any programming or special equipment

Cons of Self-Service Keys:

  • Only works for non-transponder, non-fob keys
  • No option for fob or remote replacement
  • Have to already have one working key to use as a sample
  • Completely self-service with no professional assistance

The self-service key copying route generally costs $2-$5 per basic metal key made from a sample you provide. It’s fast and cheap, but obviously won’t work for any modern vehicle with security keys and transponder chips. Use this option only for simple key copying if you have a working original to copy from.

Having a Spare Key Made Once you’ve replaced a lost or stolen car key, it’s a good idea to have a spare made right away as well. That way, you’ll never be in the position of being locked out again with no working key to make replacements from.

Most dealerships, locksmiths, and replacement services will make spare keys for a lower cost than the original if you have the working key in-hand. The labor for programming and capturing the transponder data is less. Expect to pay $75-$150 or so for an additional transponder or laser-cut spare key.

Don’t wait until you lose your key again to get that spare made! A little preparation can save you significant headaches and expenses down the road.

Replacing Key Fobs Many key replacement scenarios also involve replacing or re-pairing a separate key fob to retain functionalities like:

  • Remote keyless entry
  • Alarm system control
  • Trunk release
  • Engine start

If you only got a new key made, but need the fob operating again too, there are a couple options:

Getting a New Fob: Most dealerships and locksmiths can order and program new key fobs directly from the automaker for $100-$300 or more. Make sure they can also sync the new fob.

Fob Battery: In some cases, you just need to replace the battery in your existing fob. Dealerships and locksmiths can usually change key fob batteries as well for $25-$50.

Reprogramming Existing Fob: If you still have the old fob, many places can just reprogram and re-pair it to your new key for $50-$125, saving you the cost of a whole new remote.

When replacing both the key and fob, budget another $100-$300 or so on top of the key costs to fully replace the fob remote functionality.

Getting Keys for Older/Classic Vehicles One challenge you may face is replacing keys for much older collector and classic vehicles from decades ago. The older the vehicle, the harder it may be to source accurate reproduction key blanks or find somewhere with programming capabilities.

Some enthusiast forums and clubs may also be able to point you towards resources for hard-to-find classic car keys for your specific make and model. Expect to pay $100-$300 or more for these specialized services on older vehicles.

Tips for Getting a Replacement Key To ensure the key replacement process goes as smoothly as possible, follow these tips:

Have Your Vehicle Information Ready: Make, model, year, VIN, registration, etc. This helps the provider verify and cut the proper key.

Provide Proof of Ownership: Dealers and locksmiths always require documentation proving you own the vehicle before providing keys.

Consider Mobile Services: Many locksmiths and companies like db car keys offer convenient mobile replacement services.

Get a Spare Key Made: Once you have a new working key, get a spare made right away to avoid repeating the hassle.

Verify Providers Can Program Transponder Keys: Not all locksmiths or services have the equipment for programming transponder keys. Confirm ahead of time.

Be prepared to show ID, have your vehicle registration/title handy, and possibly wait a day or two if they need to order specific key blanks. But with some preparation and research into your options, you can get back into your vehicle quickly.

The Transponder Key Process Many modern vehicles use transponder keys that have a chip transmitting a code to allow the engine to start. The key sending the proper code prevents car theft. When getting a new transponder key, the process is:

  1. Cut New Key: Duplicate the mechanical key portion from a blank
  2. Purchase Transponder Chip: Source a fresh chip with non-programmed code
  3. Coding the Chip: Technician burns the engine immobilizer code into the chip
  4. Programming the Key: Key is paired to the vehicle so it will start

This multi-step process is why transponder key replacements are more expensive than basic keys. The equipment is also pricier compared to manual key cutting machines.

Laser-Cut Key Replacements You may need to replace Laser-cut keys as well as Transponder keys, like:

  • Key with Rectangular “Laser” Cut Opening
  • Grooves and Patterns Cut Along the Key Blade
  • Tight Spacing and Complex Patterns

These keys require precise laser cutting machinery to duplicate the unique patterns. Trained technicians or dealers are needed, so expect to pay $50-$300 depending on the complexity.

Some vehicles use a combination Laser-Cut key with a transponder chip built-in as well for added anti-theft protection. In those cases, follow the full transponder replacement process.

FAQs Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about replacing car keys without the original:

Q: How much does it cost to get a replacement car key without the original?

A: Costs can range from $50-$400+ for a replacement key without the original. The main factors are the key type (basic metal, laser-cut, or transponder), vehicle age/make/model, and service provider (dealer, locksmith, specialized service, etc). Budget at least $120-$300 for a transponder key replacement from most providers.

Q: Do I need the original key to get a new one made?

A: No, you do not need to have the original key to get a replacement made as long as you own the vehicle. Proof of ownership like the title or registration is required.

Q: Can I program a replacement key myself?

A: It’s extremely difficult and not recommended to attempt programming a transponder/security key yourself. You need proper equipment and software to ensure the transponder codes match the vehicle. Leave key programming to trained professionals.

Q: How long does it take to get a new key made without the original?

A: Getting a basic metal key copy can often be done the same day if hardware stores have your blank in stock. However, transponder key replacements typically take 1-3 business days from most providers to allow for ordering, programming, and shipping new keys/remotes.

Q: Can a locksmith make a key without the original?

A: Yes, an automotive locksmith absolutely can make a replacement key for your vehicle without access to the original key. Just have your vehicle information, documentation, and be prepared to have them program a new transponder key from scratch.

Q: Does getting a replacement key require a computer?

A: Many transponder key replacements do require a technician or locksmith to use computerized equipment and software to program the new key’s transponder chip to match the vehicle’s immobilizer system. Basic metal keys may not require computers.


Losing your car keys can certainly be stressful, but there are plenty of options available to get replacements made quickly – even without the original key. Taking the right steps and choosing between dealerships, locksmiths, specialized services like db car keys, and other alternatives ensures you’ll be back behind the wheel securely and affordably.

Whether you need a basic key copied or a brand new transponder key programmed from scratch, there are providers prepared to assist you promptly. With some research and the right profesionals, that momentary panic from lost keys can be resolved before any major disruptions occur. Stay prepared by getting a spare key made as well!