I lost my car keys! What do I do?

i lost my keys what do i doMy girlfriend called me from the parking lot of a shopping mall recently with some bad news. She said, “I lost my car keys what do I do?”

Although she backtracked most of her steps, she did not find them at first, which was why she called. Just as I was going to bring her the extra set, she remembered she tried on a few outfits in a dressing room earlier. She went back there to check. And that’s where they were — laying on the little stool in the dressing room.

Nonetheless, not everybody who misplaces their keys knows where to look. I’ve temporarily lost mine many, many times.

I thought I’d provide some information for those of you who might say, “what can I do if I lost my car keys?”

‘What to do if I lost my car keys?’

Your first step should be to look around you. Check pockets and purses. Check in between the sofa cushions if you are at home. Backtrack your steps, especially if you were in a public place. If you don’t see them, ask that clerk or attendant if anybody has reported or found lost car keys.

You may also want to check the inside of your car, which may be locked. I’ve locked my keys in the car before.

I left them in the ignition after a college night class many years ago. Nobody else had a key, so I was SOL. Also, this was before cell phones were commonplace.

I contacted the campus police, and they offered me a coat hanger to fish it out, which did not work. Tail between my legs, I found a pay phone on campus and call a locksmith.

Here’s the clincher: The locksmith charged me more than $100 to open the lock, but the right rear window was down 3-4 inches — just enough for somebody with small arms to reach in and unlock the car door. We never noticed this until after the fact.

Lesson: If you see your keys in the ignition, check the windows and see if you can reach in to unlock the door. (Shortly after this, I started using a good carabiner that connected my keys to my bag or belt loop.)

A locksmith can be a good answer, but the cost will be high. A better alternative would be to call the local police.

The police department have mechanical devices that allow them to unlock the door just like a locksmith. The difference is that the police are doing this as a community service; they don’t charge you. Also, the police may not be as experienced as the locksmith.

Q: I lost my car key. How can I get a new one?

If you have no idea where your car keys are and have no spares, you may need a few ideas about where to get new ones. This section is for you.

The dealership will be able to get you a new key or a duplicate made.

If you just need a duplicate, a locksmith or hardware store may be able to cut you a new one for a couple dollars if your car key resembles your house key — e.g., it’s an older car or motorcycle and doesn’t have a key fob.

If you have no extra set of keys but lost yours and have a smart key, you’ll need to make a trip to the dealer and get a brand new smart key or fob.

Smart keys are expensive because they are laser cut and then programmed. The programming is done to set the alarms and remote control locking mechanisms.

You’ll need your vehicle identification number (VIN) before going to the dealer. The VIN is a small tag that is riveted to the dash on the drivers side; it can be seen through the front window. Ensure that the number is recorded accurately.

The cost for a new key will range from around $100 to a couple hundreds depending on your vehicle. What’s worse is that you may be out of commission for a few days while the car dealer orders replacements.

Many online locksmiths advertise replacement keys, and they may end up cheaper than the dealership but you do need to do your due diligence before buying anything.

Tips to get new keys on the cheap

Some insurance policies cover lost or stolen keys. You may want to check your agent and see if you have a “key cover policy.”

If you purchased stand-alone key cover, you may have many options. I’ve read that some of these insurance companies will taxi you home to get your spare or will keep an extra set of your keys and deliver them to you if you are stranded.

You may also have breakdown coverage, which may provide assistance if you lock your keys in your car.

These are a few ideas that may help you if you are saying, “I lost my car keys what do I do?”