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Can I Replace a Car Key Without Having the Original?

It’s amazing how much we depend on our cars in our day-to-day lives.  Many of us could not even get to work without our cars. 

Losing a car key is stressful enough, but if you don’t have any extra copy it can seem like a nightmare. If this happens to you, don’t panic. You don’t have to put your whole life on pause or empty your wallet over a lost car key. 

Believe it or not, it is possible to have a copy of your car key made without the original – and without breaking the bank.

What Kind of Replacement Key Will You Need?

If you find yourself in a position where you must have a car key made, your first step is to determine what kind of key you will need. 

If you own a car from 1981 or earlier, you may just need a simple key cut from a standard key block.

Newer-model cars have cut keys called transponder keys. These keys include programmed chips as safety features. Even if a transponder key was cut, it still would not turn on the car without the proper programming. 

The third kind of car key is a smart key. Smart keys act as a remote and are not like traditional keys at all. These resemble an attached key fob and do not require the traditional means of turning the ignition.

house key isolated object

Traditional Key

Blog 07 TransponderKeys

Transponder Key

Blog 07 SmartKeys

Smart Key

Don’t Have the Original Key?

You can still acquire a replacement key if you have lost the original. You may consider returning to the dealer to obtain a replacement key, however, this can be very expensive, especially if your vehicle needs to be towed.

A more affordable option is to enlist the services of an auto locksmith. Many locksmiths can cut and program a key for about half the cost of a dealership replacement. Some dealers even utilize the services of outside locksmiths for replacement keys.

An experienced locksmith will be able to make a replacement key for you even if you do not have the original. It doesn’t matter where you are or the type of vehicle you need help with. The services of a skilled professional also extend to keys for scooters, trucks, vans, caravans, and motorcycles.

What Information Will Your Locksmith Need?

When you contact a locksmith, you will need to supply some information to the company before your key can be replaced. This includes:

  • Vehicle year, make, and model
  • Proof of ownership (registration or title)
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Key Identification Number

The VIN can be found either on the driver’s side doorpost or stamped on a metal plate on the driver’s side dashboard. 

Your key identification number is not always required. If you do need to access this number, it can usually be found in your car manual. 

If you suspect your original key was stolen, be sure to inform your locksmith. They will be able to reprogram your car so that the old keys no longer work.

Do You Need to Worry About a Tow?

Not only is choosing a dealer to replace your key much more expensive, it often requires you to have your vehicle towed. When you enlist the help of an auto locksmith, you can stay put knowing that help is on the way.

If you require an emergency locksmith to travel to you, make sure that you can provide the address or cross streets of your location. Our locksmith will utilize the newest technology to cut and program your new key or smart key on the spot. 

Enlisting The Help of a Supportive Team

The loss or damage of your only car key is a stressful situation but you don’t have to handle it alone. Our professionals are trained to handle nearly all car models, so you can be assured that your vehicle is in excellent hands. Open 24 hours a day and seven days a week – there is never a bad time to contact us. Your local Pop-A-Lock is here to help with any of you locksmithing needs!

How To Avoid Scammers and Choose the Right Locksmith

There were an estimated 263.6 million registered vehicles in the United States in 2015, and that number is continually growing. There were also an estimated 127.59 million households in the United States in 2018.

That means there are over 400 million locks – if you add business and commercial locks – and over 1 billion keys in the US that can be stolen or broken. The odds are that you or someone you’re with will need to call a Pop-A-Lock locksmith at some point in time.

But how do you know you can trust someone you find on the internet?

Unfortunately, locksmith scamming happens regularly. However, there are signs to look for and tips to know that will help you avoid being scammed. If you know what to look for – and what to avoid – when you get in trouble, you won’t be taken advantage of, or put yourself in harms way by locksmith scammers.

Be Proactive

One of the best pieces of advice we can give you is don’t wait until you’re rushed or panicked to find a trusted locksmith. If you take the time to do research before you need a locksmith, when the time comes you’ll know who to call and feel confident in your choice.

Things to research ahead of time:

  • Should be well-reviewed – If you Google search for “locksmiths near me,” there will likely be a lot of results that come up. One of the first things you should look for is if a locksmith is well-reviewed. They should have a significant number of reviews, and those reviews should be majority positive.

Example of Pop-A-Lock Houston's Google Maps listing

  • Check for licensure and locksmith ID when applicable – A trustworthy locksmith will have a locksmith ID, and will be licensed if in a state that requires licensure. These should be indicated on the locksmith’s website. You can also find out more about state licensing requirements here.
  • Look around on the website – A trustworthy locksmith should have branding, which will be obvious on their website. They will also note things like a Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating, potentially case studies from past work, a blog providing knowledge and expertise, and more.

When You Call the Locksmith

So, you find yourself locked out of your car at your daughter’s soccer game, or after meeting some friends at the mall. You’ve done some research before on local locksmiths and you feel pretty confident on the one you’ve chosen to call. Once you get on the phone with the locksmith, there are a few things you can look out for, to verify whether or not they’re trustworthy.

Once you get on the phone with the locksmith:

  • Ask for a cost estimate. It’s best to call and talk directly to a technician, so they can get all the details and information they need to give a quote. If possible, it’s a good idea to ask the technician to send the quote in writing as well, after talking to them verbally. Ask up front about any potential additional charges that may come up.
  • Make sure they answer the phone with the company name. Don’t trust a generic answer like “Hello, locksmithing services.” This is a big red flag.
  • Ask about payment methods. Requiring you to pay in cash is another possible red flag, and likely means you should avoid that locksmith.

When the Locksmith Arrives

You found a locksmith that you’ve read about in your research and seemed trustworthy over the phone. That’s great!

Odds are, by this point in the process you would have figured out if a locksmith seems shady or not. But don’t totally let your guard down just yet.

When the locksmith arrives on the scene, some things to look for include:

  • They should be in a clearly marked vehicle and/or uniform. A trustworthy locksmith will show up in a branded company car,  not a personal car, and possibly a uniform as well. At Pop-A-Lock, we guarantee our technicians will arrive in both a clearly-marked car and a uniform to ensure easy identification!

  • Drilling a lock should always be a last resort. Professional locksmiths go through extensive training to ensure they can fix a lock or key with the absolute minimum amount of damage to any car or home. If they say immediately that they’ll need to drill the lock, they are not a professional and not trustworthy. There are some cases where drilling may be necessary, but it will always be a last resort, and the locksmith should make clear that other tactics will not work.
  • The cost should not vary significantly from the quote they gave you. Once the locksmith arrives and sees the situation in person, there may be a small fluctuation in cost due to certain variables. However, the cost change should never be significant, and no work should be done without the approval of the new cost.
  • They should have an ID on them.  As with everyone, this helps confirm they are who they say they are.

Don’t Be the Next Locksmith Scam Victim

Having to choose and meet someone from the internet is always scary. Especially if you’re in an emotional state – like being locked out of your car or home – and might not have time to think clearly or think every detail through.

And, unfortunately, there are people out there willing to take advantage of other people. Particularly of naive people. This doesn’t have to be you, though!

When it comes time for you to pick a locksmith, there are a lot of indicators you can look out for that will quickly let you know whether or not they’re trustworthy. Do your research ahead of time, listen to your gut, don’t trust someone who can’t give you a straightforward answer or seems inexperienced.

Pop-A-Lock is located nation-wide and provides 24/7 mobile, emergency unlocking services! If you find yourself in need of a locksmith, we’ve got you covered! Anywhere, any time. CALL US today!

How To: Keep Your Home & Business Safe With Smart Devices

We hear the buzzwords all the time. Internet of Things. Connected devices. Smart TVs and thermostats.

There’s no denying smart technology is on the rise. The worldwide smart home market is forecasted to be $53.5 billion by 2022. The current estimated connected home technologies sales in the U.S. is at $1,485,000.

Smart technology can provide both home and business owners alike with peace of mind, convenience, and efficiency. However, it can be overwhelming to pick the right device for you from such a crowded market. And once you do pick the device you have to learn how to use it most effectively.

Below, our trained Pop-A-Lock technicians give some suggested smart devices to improve your home’s or business’s security, and how they work.

Home Smart Key Security

Smart Locks

Installing smart locks can be a great first step in home or business automation, and increase the security of both. For starters, a lot of smart locks will give you remote access, allowing you to check from afar if your door is locked. Never again will you have that “oh no, did I lock the door?” feeling 20 minutes down the road.

Additionally, smart locks can help you control who has access to your home or business in a more secure manner. With traditional keys, if you want someone to have access without your presence, you have to make a copy of the key. Eventually, there will be too many copies floating around and your security will decrease. 

With many smart locks, you can give someone a code to unlock the door. This code can then be changed periodically, to make sure only the correct people have access.

Some smart locks even go a step further, and allow you to give out time-limited codes. For example, you can give someone a code that lasts 15 minutes, or 24 hours. Then that code expires. This ensures people only have access for as long as you want them to.

Automated Light Bulbs

Setting light bulbs  to automatically come on at certain times of day can deter any potential thieves. You could set your lights on a traditional timer so they turn on and off at specific times each day. This will make it appear as though you are home even when you’re not.

If you’d like to step it up a notch, you can install smart light bulbs which are controlled remotely. These allow you to monitor which lights are on in your house or business, and turn any of them on or off from wherever you are. 

Motion-Activated Outdoor Lights

The same idea from above applies to outdoor lighting. If a thief is sneaking around your yard or the parking lot of your business, and they trigger a light, they’ll likely be scared off. The threat of being seen by neighbors, passersby, or someone inside the house or building is increased when a light shines. No crook wants that!

Well Lit Home Security

Smart Doorbells

There are some pretty high-tech doorbells available today. Many of them have video cameras built in, which is a great way to remotely keep an eye on your house. Even if you are home or at the office, you can use the camera to check on unexpected noise or knocking at the door.

Many of these doorbells can also send alerts to your phone if motion is detected. If someone is roaming around outside your home or business, you’ll get a real-time notification on your phone. Then you can open up the app, check the camera footage and make sure everything is safe. This way, you’ll be able to call emergency services immediately, rather than noticing something is wrong when you return to your home or office.

Smart Garage Doors

Garage doors with the right technology can also provide increased security for your home or business. Some smart garages will alert you when the door is left open and allow you to close them remotely. This is a great way to make sure no entries to the house are left open for thievery.

Similarly to the doorbells, some smart garages will also alert you of motion detected. Again, even if you are not home or inside the business, you can check the app to see what the motion was. If it is someone or something suspicious, you can alert the police sooner rather than later.

Security Systems With Connected Cameras

Security systems with connected cameras let you keep an eye on your home or business while you’re away. These smart cameras allow you to check areas like your living room, backyard, office space – anywhere you set one up. And, they allow you to do this any time, anywhere.

Some systems will even assign dates and times to its footage. So, say you wake up and notice an alert on your phone that motion was detected in your backyard at 3 a.m. You can check the footage from that time to see what the motion was. 

Another great feature of many smart security systems is setting virtual boundaries. You could set one, for example, to go a certain distance around your home or around a specific area of your office that needs added security. If that boundary is breached, you’ll be alerted.

Be Proactive

Smart home technologies come in a wide variety. No matter the device or system, though, they all have one thing in common – they’ll provide you convenience and peace of mind when it comes to your home or business’s security. Don’t wait until something happens to retroactively install better security measures, though. Be proactive and get started today, to ensure you and your family or employees stay safe!

We at Pop-A-Lock know it’s a very crowded market of smart technology. If you’re not sure which to try first, check this list of smart home technologies, which recommends good starter devices, such as smart locks and doorbells.

Or, contact your local Pop-A-Lock professionals today to learn more about what solution might be best for you!

Pop-A-Lock Mascot Hugging Child

How Can I Increase The Security of My Home?

Feeling safe in your home is a top priority for most people. But how do you get this safety? Taking measures like using a high-end security system to not letting your mailbox overflow can increase home security. Below are eight suggested ways you can increase the security of your home no matter the type of house or budget.

Make it Look Like You’re Home, Even if You’re Not

Most robbers are going to be looking for a house they know is empty. They don’t want an altercation, they want an empty house to ransack and leave. Whether you’re leaving for a vacation or just out for the day, there are a few ways you can make it look like you’re home, even if you’re not.

1. Install Motion-Activated Lights 

Robbers don’t like to be seen. Motion-activated lights can be a great way to scare off someone looking to enter your home. When the lights come on, the thief is at risk of a neighbor seeing them. They also could believe someone is home and turned the lights on from inside.

2. Put Lights on Timers

Having smart light bulbs is a quick and easy way to make someone on the outside believe you’re home. Set the lights on random timers so some are always turned on. That way crooks can’t tell if you’re away running errands or on vacation. They also won’t be able to pick up on any recurring schedules such as being gone for work.

3. Don’t Leave Mail in the Mailbox or Packages on the Porch

An overflowing mailbox or unattended packages are signs to crooks that no one is home. If you’re going away on vacation, ask a neighbor or a friend to empty your mailbox and gather packages while you’re away. Even if you’re only at work or out for the day, ask delivery people to leave packages in a backyard or private area if you can.

Secure Home Mail

4. Trim Your Bushes and Grass

As with the mail and packages, an unkempt yard can be a sign to a crook that you’re not home, and haven’t been in a while. This can make them feel more comfortable scoping out your home and robbing it. On top of that, overflowing bushes and grass can make it easier for thieves to stay out of site from neighbors. It’s best to keep your bushes and grass as tidy and trimmed as possible.

Security Gadgets For Round-The-Clock Safety

In addition to making it look like you’re home when you’re not, there are also security measure you can take to provide safety when you are home. Below are some suggested tips and tools to keep you and your family safe inside your home.

1. Rekey Your Home

There are a lot of ways our house keys can get out in the world. Giving a spare to a neighbor or child off at college, for example. But, sometimes – for whatever reason – someone who once needed a key no longer does. Every once in a while you should rekey your home so you can know exactly who has copies of your key. This also lets you make sure no one has access who you don’t want to have access.

2. Install Smart Locks

A lot of robbers don’t force entry into a house, but instead find one with an unlocked door and walk right in. Installing smart locks that automatically lock behind you will make sure this isn’t an option. It will also stop the dreaded “did I lock the door behind me?” feeling miles down the road.

Pop-A-Lock Smart Locks

3. Have Locks and/or Stops on All Windows:

Many crooks know that most people keep their doors locked these days. But not everyone keeps their windows locked. Installing locks on your windows can help you sleep easy at night knowing every port of entry into the house is inaccessible. There are also window stops, preventing windows from opening more than six inches. This is great for getting some fresh air but keeping unwanted robbers out.

4. Have a Security Camera

If you want to have high security, you can install a security camera outside (or inside) your home. You can also install an alarm that goes off when doors or windows open. A camera will likely frighten away any robbers. It also can give you peace of mind by allowing you to keep an eye on your house when you’re not home. An alarm system will alert both you and the security company if someone enters your home.

Security camera on a home for added security

There are a lot of ways you can increase the security of your home. Whether it be something simple like making sure your mailbox isn’t overflowing, or something bigger like installing smart locks or a security camera. Depending on your budget, the overall safety of your neighborhood, and more, there is a solution out there for you!

Check out our free home security audit and contact one of our professionals today to schedule a visit for your home.