Lost Your Car Keys?

Car Key Replacement in Melbourne

At 24h Melbourne Locksmith, we can make car keys and remotes from scratch, on site by the roadside, for most makes and models of car. 99% of cars built after 1995 have an electronic immobiliser in them which requires a correctly programmed transponder key to start them. The transponder and immobiliser system are separate from your key and remote.

The procedure for car key replacement in MelbourneTHIS IS KEYWORDS STUFFING where all the originals have been lost all starts with the same basics:

  1. Open the locked vehicle using the most appropriate method. This is always done without causing any damage.
  2. Disassemble one or more of the locks, of which there is always the door and ignition, and maybe the boot, petrol cap, glove box, spare wheel, roof racks, etc.
  3. Determine the configuration of the correct key. 80% of the info needed to cut the correct key can be gained from the disassembled lock/s. The remaining 20% is retrieved through expensive software.
  4. Cut a test key on a low quality plain steel blank only, using the most appropriate method and machine.
  5. Test, adjust and recut the key as many times as necessary to get it 100% perfect.
  6. Re-assemble all the locks and parts and install back into the vehicle.
  7. Cut 2 car keys to the correct, specifications determined by the previous 6 steps, usinghigh-quality nickel-silver key blanks that will be the end product given to the client.
  8. Test those 2 keys in all the locks mechanically. They will now mechanically function in the doors, ignition and any other locks in the car. It’s worth noting at this point that when the key is turned in the ignition, the car will not start. It still has no transponder.
  9. Insert the correctly configured, un-programmed transponders into the keys.! There are currently about 150 different types of transponder chips used by today’s car makers, that then still have to be programmed into the car

Those are the first basic steps to make car keys when all have been lost. From here, the methods used to complete the job for 95% of cars diverge into the 2 major categories of Diagnostic and EEPROM. The smaller categories of the remaining 5% are for luxury European brands, and each has their own specialist methods, keys and technology. However, we can still make keys for these.

The Diagnostic Method

Diagnostic Programming is when we use a specialist computer to connect to the car through the OBD port, which is usually hidden somewhere under the dash. Once the cable is connected, we need to access the car’s ECU and tell it to recognise or write the new chips so they are recognised by the system. To get this access, we usually have to meet some sort of additional digital security challenge, like a system PIN, a security “wait-state”, or a calculated security code from VIN.  Once access is gained, we program the new chips to the system. It’s usually the case that any old chips are wiped from the car’s memory, and only the new chips will function. The old mechanical keys will still open the lock and turn in the ignition, but they will not start the car.

The EEPROM Method

EEPROM stands for Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory, a type of computer chip used in a wide variety of modern electronics. More about the general use can be read here, but for the purpose of this discussion, it’s a method of correctly configuring the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) of the car and/or the transponder chip so that the car will start when you turn the key.

EEPROM programing for a modern car first involves finding the car’s ECU, which could be in the instrument cluster, under the dash, or absolutely anywhere else depending on the make and model of the car. After locating the ECU, removing it can be varyingly easy or hard depending on where it is, but regardless of difficulty, it has to come out. Sometimes, a professional mechanic’s skills are needed. Once the ECU is out, it’s usually best to work on it in a static sterile environment, such as on an electronics bench under a big magnifying glass.

The EEPROM chip is located somewhere on the main circuit board, and depending on the chip and board, it can be de-soldered from the board or read in circuit with specialised electronic equipment. Depending on the model, the info on the EEPROM chip or the transpondercan be modified as necessary to make car keys that start the vehicle If necessary the EEPROM chip is then re-soldered back onto the ECU and the ECU is installed back into the car before the car is re-assembled.

Proximity Keys

An ever-growing proportion of cars on the road today have proximity keys and the feature of push button start. This is where the car has sensors that detect the correct key when it’s close by and allows entry into the car. You don’t even have to take the key out of your pocket in order to push the button to start the car! What will they think of next?

It’s important to note that even though they may be hidden, ALL of these cars have mechanical key locks in the door and usually also under the push button start. This is for mechanical override in the event of a fault in the car or a flat battery in either the car or the key. To make car keys for a car with a proximity key system, the basic steps are still the same to make the mechanical keys. Transponders and remotes are usually programmed via the Diagnostic method of car key replacement in Melbourne, but not always.

Remotes

Regardless of the type of keys or transponders that we’ve used up until now, we may still need to program the remotes if applicable or desirable. In some cars, but not many, the remotes for the central locking or the alarm system are programmed during the diagnostic or EEPROM process. The cars that do not use Diagnostic or EEPROM have to have the remote programmed by “chicken dance”.  Each car make, model and year has its own proprietary chicken dance, and you have to know all the correct steps in the correct order to successfully program the remote.

An example of a chicken dance might be:

  • Put the key in the ignition 5 times quickly
  • Open and shut the door 6 times quickly
  • Flick the rear de-mister 5 times
  • Whisper the sacred text to Odin
  • Press and hold the buttons on the desired remotes

What Information We Need

Above are the broad basics to successfully make car keys for modern cars on the road today. Every make and model is different, with different blades, remotes and transponders across models and years. For this reason, it’s imperative that we get the full details of the car in order to accurately quote you. You can get the full info of the car through a number of ways. The easiest way is to give us the License Plate number if the car is registererd with Vic Roads. From this link, we can get the VIN, which we can use to identify the make, model, year and month of the individual car. Simply call us for a quote.

Modern Car Keys and Components

Since the early 90s, most vehicles have been manufactured with quite sophisticated security features, incorporating electronic immobilisers, high security locks, and central locking systems. Modern car keys have also become very sophisticated to match. As well as the traditional key blade that varies widely in type and security level, the modern car key can also have a remote control for the central locking or starting, a transponder chip, and possibly even a touch screen! Although we will see them more and more in the future, touch screen keys are pretty rare at the moment, and if you own one, it’s more likely in the pocket of your chauffeur than in yours. We shall examine in detail the 3 main components that make up a modern car key.

Blade

Transponder

Remote

 

Your car key may not have all 3 of these components, but if you own a vehicle that was built after 1995, then you can almost guarantee that the vehicle has an electronic immobiliser and the key is a transponder key. There are a few exceptions (some trucks and industrial vehicles), but they are very rare. Even if your key has no visible electronics, but has a plastic head, chances are that is has a chip hidden within the plastic head.
Only if you have an all metal key, with no plastic at all on it:
AND it actually starts the car, only then can you be assured that you don’t have a car with an immobiliser that requires a transponder within your key. Continue reading for more information about each of the 3 main modern car key characteristics.

 

Mechanical Key Blade

On cars made after 2010, car keys with blades are often only used as a backup in the event of power failure and are hidden inside the remote key, either by a button which flips them out, or by a small catch that releases them.

Although your car may appear to have no physical locks, all cars are fitted with mechanical locks in the event of battery failure. Look closely under the covers of your door handles, or at the top of your remote key. More than likely you’ll find one.

Most car keys designed before the year 2000 are of the “saw tooth” type. These keys vary in profile and size, have cuts at different depths on both sides of the blade, and are usually symmetrical. The majority of car locks designed for these keys are double sided, inline wafer locks, with x amount of locking wafers on one side and y amount of locking wafers on the other. A functioning key needs only be cut with x cuts on one side and y cuts on the other, and then inserted in the correct orientation.

However, a correct “saw tooth” key, with both x and y cuts on both sides, can be inserted either way and still function perfectly. This is an oft overlooked important feature of modern car keys that helps to minimise the number of times a key is inserted and removed, which comes with obvious benefits, including a reduction in client frustration.

The correct technical term for this type of lock is a double-sided wafer lock, and with the key cut symmetrically on both sides, it can be inserted in either orientation, so the key can be correctly termed a double sided, convenience, wafer lock key. But all that sounds like we’re lock nerds, so we just call it an old car key and ask what model you have.

After 2000, most physical bladed Car Keys are of the “Laser Cut” or “Sidewinder” type. The term “Laser” is used because some of the early machines used to cut these keys incorporated a laser reader for accuracy. They are not called laser cut because a Light Amplified Stimulated Emission of Radiation was fired at it like something out of Star Wars. No, but some people think it sounds cool. The term “Sidewinder” is more commonly used because the cuts on the key resemble the curve of the snake more than they look like they have teeth.

The locks that these keys operate are no different in principle to the locks previously mentioned.  There are only minor differences,  the  main one being that the bellies of the wafers within the lock are no longer on the bottom of them, but are now set on the side of the wafers so they run along the inside track of the key. This is technical jargon for the discerning engineers among you, and not needed for our discussion. We need only discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this system. The primary advantage of this configuration is that the keys don’t have any sharp edges on them, and as such, they don’t tear holes in customer’s pockets. A secondary advantage is that the wear and tear on these locks is very much reduced, and therefore they last longer − a lot longer.

A tertiary advantage is that the keys have a larger cross section of metal in their composition, and as such, they’re much more difficult to break than the old style, although some people are stronger and more persuasive than others. The primary disadvantage of these locks and keys is that they cannot be cut or duplicated on traditional key cutting machines. Specialised, usually computerised, equipment is needed to make car keys, driving up the overall cost for the consumer.

2 Track Sidewinder Keys

These Sidewinder keys needed to fit these types of locks vary not only in size and shape, but also in the amount and orientation of the cuts or “tracks” that are milled into them.  The earliest examples of these keys have symmetrical tracks of cuts milled into one edge of both sides. These are correctly termed 2 Track Sidewinder keys.

This Holden VN Commodore key is a good example of a 2 Track Sidewinder Key:

4 Track Sidewinder Keys

The next version of these keys has 2 different tracks of cuts milled into both edges of both sides. These are called 4 Track Sidewinder Keys. This Honda is a 4 Track Sidewinder Key. It has been cut once on each edge on this side of the key and it’s the same on the other side.

There now also 4 Track Internal Sidewinder Keys, where the 2 tracks of the cuts are milled into the centre of the key, such as this Toyota/Lexus Key:

Ford Tibbie Key

This is a Ford Tibbie Key:


Instead of wafers that move up and down to block rotation of the lock cylinder, the Tibbie Lock has rotating discs:

Each disc needs to turn the correct amount in order for the locking sidebar to stop obstructing the rotation of the cylinder.

Transponders

A transponder is a piece of electronic hardware that can receive and respond to coded signals via radio waves. The term is a combination of the words transmitter and responder. Transponders can be either passive or active. A transponder within the auto security domain usually has no battery and is not self-powered, but receives the necessary electricity to function via an induction loop around the ignition lock. This is usually, but not always, initiated when the correct mechanical key turns the ignition switch to ON.   The chip is powered up by the induction loop and begins to either transmit its own signal or look for the transmitted signal from the car, or both. Once communication between the chip and the car is established, the chip transmits the correct code via the reader ring to the vehicle’s ECU (electronic control unit) by radio frequency. The ECU reads the code and verifies it’s correct before allowing the vehicle to start. This all happens in an instant, between the time the key is turned to ON and being turned to START. That is the broad-range, simple explanation of transponder chips and keys within the domain of auto security. In reality, transponder chips are manufactured by many different companies, including Texas, Phillips and Megamos, and they can be “once only” programmable or “re-programmable”. Some early chips use fixed code challenge response systems and can be programmed using commercially available diagnostic equipment. The latest modern chips use “rolling-code” technology, which means that the code changes every time the key is used, negating the risk of “signal capture” devices, and requiring more advanced and expensive equipment to program them. And of course, each car manufacturer uses a different chip with a different frequency, and/or a different algorithm. It’s important to note that this transponder chip immobiliser system is entirely separate and independent of any remote central locking, door or ignition locks or alarm that the vehicle may have.

REMOTES

The remote controls for modern cars come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and configurations from different manufacturers. These remotes can operate alarms or central locking facilities, and rarely, older immobiliser systems.

Here are some stand-alone remote controls that are separate from their respective keys and transponders:Here is a Toyota Remote Key. Notice that the remote is integrated within the head of the key.

This key also has a transponder inside, even though you can’t see it:Original keys from the factory that come with the car tend to be of the “fully integrated design” that encloses the key, the remote and the transponder in the one compact handy package. Car key replacement in Melbourne for these keys tends to be more expensive, as usually the Genuine Original Manufacturers parts need to be used.

Here is an integrated flip key with all the components nicely packaged:

Frequently Asked Questions

There are no fixed rules as to the pricing of these keys, as every vehicle is different depending on the make, model and year, whether the vehicle is diesel or petrol, and the type of key required. There are literally thousands of cars and keys out there, and some are harder to make keys for than others. Here are some examples of typical prices:

Open and make car keys for 1990 Toyota Hilux, 10 am Monday = $250

Open and make keys for 2004 Subaru Impreza, 10am Monday = $350 (non-remote)

Open and make keys for VZ Holden Commodore, 10 am Monday = $450(with remote)

Open and make keys for 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer, 10 am Monday = $350 (non-remote)

Open and make keys for 2002 Toyota Camry, 10am Monday = $650 (with remote)

Open and make keys for 2012 Toyota LandCruiser, 10am Monday = $1495 (Proximity Smart Key)

We can save considerable time and money, as we can do the job at the roadside instead of you having to tow the car and wait days for the dealership. All our work comes with a 100% guarantee on parts and labour.

However many you like, however modern auto keys are not cheap and we can’t just “throw in an extra.” Some cars in fact require a minimum of 2 keys to be programmed at the same time, so sometimes economising by just getting one is not an option. Our locksmiths will be able to quote for and cut extra keys on site.

No. There is a significant risk that the parts purchased by you are incorrect or sub-standard. We will not risk wasting our time and having an unhappy customer by using faulty, wrong or sub-standard parts to make car keys. It’s a big bad digital world out there and those charlatans in China will tell you anything to sell you their cheap crap.  We know and trust our suppliers and have never had an issue with them yet. We only work with keys that we supply.

Whenever you like. We have technicians available 24 hours per day. The cost depends on your location and the situation. We aim to respond to emergency situations within 30 minutes, and at the time of booking, you will be given an ETA of the locksmith’s arrival and their direct phone number confirmed by SMS. You’ll generally receive a 15 minute arrival window.

Yes. You can pay with Visa, AMEX or Mastercard.

No. All services must be paid for once they’re completed, unless arranged prior with the management. We accept Cash, or Visa/Mastercard.

Yes. We stand by the quality of our car key replacement in Melbourne 100% and provide a 1 year guarantee.

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