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Pop-A-Lock’s Free Emergency Car Unlocking Service

PAL Saves Kids is a free service from Pop-A-Lock. Our ultimate goal is to decrease the number of children injured or killed in hot vehicles through education and awareness. We know that life happens and that even a slight change in one’s daily routine can result in forgetfulness. We want to be there for you if that happens.

Our professional technicians are available 24/7 to rescue children locked in vehicles, and with Pal Saves Kids, we aim to educate instead of judge.

A parent’s goal is to keep their children safe at all costs, but accidents happen, that’s just life. According to the National Safety Council’s Injury Facts page on hot car deaths, an average of 38 children die in hot cars each year, and nine have died in hot cars already in 2019. Of the total number of children that have died in hot vehicles since 1998, it is estimated that over half were forgotten by a parent or caregiver in the vehicle.

Though we may assume that heatstroke deaths are only possible in the sweltering temperatures in the southern and western states, heatstroke in vehicles can happen anywhere. The National Safety Council reports that hot car deaths are a danger in every state, in every month, not just the summer months. Research has shown that vehicles can heat up much quicker than you might think, even when the outside temperature is what we would consider comfortable. At an outside temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit, for example, the temperature inside a vehicle can increase to 117 degrees Fahrenheit within an hour.

When the temperature inside a vehicle can increase this rapidly, children left in hot cars do not have much time before they overheat. We never think this will happen to us, but we are only human and we’ll inevitably make mistakes sometimes. The last thing a mistake should cost is a child’s life, so it is important to be aware of these statistics and what your options are to avoid this scary situation.

Here are a few tips to avoid leaving your child locked your vehicle:

  • Keep your focus on driving and avoid distractions (talking on the phone, eating or drinking, daydreaming, etc.) that can cause you to forget what you were doing.
  • Open your child’s door as soon as you arrive at your destination
  • Put an important item (such as your phone, purse, briefcase, backpack, etc.) under your child’s seat so you will remember to retrieve it
  • Have your daycare call your office if your child doesn’t arrive
  • Write down schedule changes in a planner so that they’re fresh in your mind.

Accidents happen all the time, even when you take every possible precaution. Fortunately, Pop-A-Lock’s PAL Saves Kids Program exists to help you if you ever encounter an emergency lock-in situation.

Contact Your Local Pop-A-Lock

Visit Pop-A-Lock’s PAL Saves Kids  page for more tips and for more information on what to do if your child is accidentally locked in the car. We’ll be here to help you and make sure your little ones are safe and secure, no matter where you are!

Tips to Prevent Accidentally Locking A Child in A Car

Pop-A-Lock Technician Opening Door for Child in Car

Did you know that according to KidsandCars.org, an average of 38 children die heat-related deaths each year after being trapped inside a vehicle?

As a parent, your days are understandably hectic. With all of the responsibilities and distractions that come with everyday life, even the best parents could discover that they’ve accidentally locked their child in the car. While most of us assume that this will never happen to us, it’s always wise to consider how to avoid a mental blunder like this, and what to do if it accidentally happens to you.

That’s why we’ve provided the following tips that will help you avoid accidentally locking your child in the car.


  1.   Always take your kids with you. 

Even if you’re making a brief stop, bring your kids with you into the store. In some states, it’s even illegal to leave your child unattended in a vehicle. Make a habit of bringing your child with you, no matter how busy you are or how short you expect the stop to be.

  1.   Don’t leave your keys within an arm’s reach of your child.

No matter where you are, your keys need to be kept away from your child. The auto lock on your keyless entry remote allows a child to lock themselves in the car. It’s a good idea to carry a spare key with you at all times. Typically, a locksmith service can duplicate your key for less than what an auto dealership will charge. If your keys are locked in the vehicle with your child, Pop-A-Lock’s Pal Saves Kid’s program can help you get into your vehicle immediately to retrieve your child and your keys.

  1.   Communicate with your child’s caregiver.

Stay in contact with your child’s caregiver so that the caregiver will call you if your child doesn’t show up at daycare. It’s not unheard of for parents to be in such a rush that they accidentally forget that their children are still in the car and head to work. Use a smartphone app that requires you to check-in so you will receive an alert on your phone if your child is not dropped off at daycare.

  1.   Always check the car seat. 

Every time you exit your vehicle, check the backseat for your child. Place a reminder on your dashboard, or put one of your child’s belongings, such as a toy, in the front seat to serve as a visual reminder. Or, put something you’ll need when you get out of the car -like a phone, wallet or purse – in the backseat with your child.

  1.   Situate your child’s car seat so that they are visible to you.

Position your child’s car seat to the right or in the middle of the backseat, so it is easier to see them in your rearview mirror than if they were directly behind you.

  1.   Limit talking on the phone. 

Try to avoid talking on the phone during your drive. Carrying on a conversation, particularly one that is deep or involving, could be distracting and divert your attention from your child.

  1.   Be careful if your daily routine changes.

The risk of accidentally leaving your child in the car increases with a change in routine. If you decide to run an errand before work or if you need to adjust your daily schedule for any reason, be sure to put your child’s new drop off time on your calendar in advance, and try to set phone reminders to alert you that they need to be taken to school or daycare. If your child will be with you all day, make a mental note to always take them with you on whatever special errands you need to run.

  1.   Save a locksmith’s number in your phone. 

Be prepared in the event the unthinkable happens and you accidentally lock your child in the car. If it’s a warm summer day or a cold winter day, and your child is in the car, take immediate action to get them out. Call 911 and attempt to break a window to gain entry into the vehicle.

However, if the weather is mild, calling 911 and breaking a window might not be necessary. Just be sure to call a locksmith or utilize Pop-A-Lock’s PAL Saves Kids program to get your child out of the vehicle immediately. Locksmiths are available 24/7 and will be able to pop the lock as soon as they arrive. Always be careful in this consideration, though, because inside of cars can heat up or cool off quickly, even if the temperature outside is mild. When in doubt, always call 911.

Pop-A-Lock is Committed to Saving Kids

Pop-A-Lock developed the PAL Saves Kids program, which rescues children in locked vehicles 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Since law enforcement officers introduced the program in 1991, thousands of kids have been rescued throughout the United States at no charge to parents or caregivers. If your child is locked in your vehicle or you see someone else’s child locked in another vehicle, take advantage of this free program right away.

We hope you found these tips to be helpful, and if you need assistance with a locked vehicle, contact your local Pop-A-Lock professionals today.

Remember, always look before you lock!

Pop-A-Lock Mascot hugging child

How To Save Money On Automotive Key Duplication Services

How To Save Money On Automotive Key Duplication Services

While there’s never a “good” time to lose your car keys, it always seems like they get lost at the most inconvenient time possible. This often leads to extreme stress and frustration for countless people across the country every day. 

As anyone who has had to replace a car key before knows, it can be a time consuming and expensive ordeal if you have them replaced at the dealership. Fortunately, there are faster and cheaper options available to you, such as using a locksmith – specifically, Pop-A-Lock – for key duplication. If you have a duplicate key, it’s not as big of a nuisance if you lose one. 

 Want to know more? Here are four reasons why you should hire a locksmith for a duplicate key instead of going to a dealership: 

  1.   Quick Response Time. A locksmith specializes in key replacement. They’ll be ready to help you right away because that’s what they do for a living! A dealership, on the other hand, is more focused on car sales. Dealerships don’t deal with key replacements as regularly as a locksmith does, and they don’t typically have an efficient process in place to make duplicate keys like a locksmith does. Many locksmiths offer emergency services 24/7, so you can get the key you need no matter what time of day it is.
  2.   Convenience. A locksmith will come to wherever you are and help get you back on the road, whereas dealerships typically do not offer this convenient service. This is a plus, as in a case where you are locked out of your vehicle, you won’t be able to drive to a dealership.
  3.   Help with Other Lock and Key Issues. A lost car key is just one example of the many issues a locksmith can help with. Another common problem is when a physical key gets stuck in the ignition. Instead of paying a mechanic to fix it, a locksmith can remove the key for a much lower price. Another common problem we encounter is when the ignition is damaged or has worn out, however a locksmith is usually able to repair the ignition switch on site. Locksmiths are experts in car keys and locks, affordably and promptly helping you with a range of issues related to accessing and starting your vehicle.
  4.   Quality Matches the Dealership. Locksmiths can duplicate 99% of all car keys on the market. Car dealerships will say that you have to go to a dealer to get a duplicate car key because they want you to go through them. There are a very small percentage of late model car keys that a locksmith cannot duplicate only because the carmaker has not released the key codes to locksmiths yet. 

Pop-A-Lock can duplicate virtually every make and model of key – and for a far lower price than what the dealership will charge. Our highly skilled Pop-A-Lock technicians can meet you wherever you and your car are,  creating your smart key on the spot. All technicians are trained to perform programming of transponder, VAT, and smart keys for all vehicle makes and models. The work we do will be very high quality – guaranteed every time.

Replacing Modern Car Keys

Why are car keys so expensive these days? The main reason is that vehicle security has become more sophisticated over the last few decades. Most newer vehicles are equipped with transponders, (a type of anti-theft system), and keys use an electronic fob, which is essentially a remote control. To program these types of key/fobs, locksmiths need proper training and equipment. 

Replacing a newer, high-tech transponder key is not as easy as getting a new key cut to match your ignition. This needs to be performed by a trained technician to ensure the key will start your car and function properly. Not only is Pop-A-Lock much cheaper than a dealership, we’re much quicker as well. Pop-A-Lock can assist with the following key duplication services: 

  • Key replacements
  • Keyless remotes
  • VATS keys
  • Laser cut keys
  • Transponder keys
  • Dealer chip keys programmed on-site
  • Remote programming
  • Electronic keys

Lost Your Car Keys? Call Pop-A-Lock For Help

We’re available 24/7, so call Pop-A-Lock whenever and wherever you need us, and our technician will promptly arrive on the scene to help! If you need a duplicate key, all you have to do is contact a Pop-A-Lock near you and provide the following information:

  • The type of keys that have been lost
  • Make and model of your vehicle
  • VIN#
  • Personal identification

After you’ve placed your call, a skilled Pop-A-Lock technician will come to where you are and duplicate your key on site. This way, you will not have to pay for towing. If you have AAA or roadside assistance through your car insurance, you may have benefits that will pay a percentage of the key duplication cost. Lastly, Pop-A-Lock will provide a similar warranty that you would get from a dealership.

Don’t overpay for key duplication, and say “no thanks” to the time and hassle that comes with getting a new key from the dealership. Instead, contact your local Pop-A-Lock to get a trained technician to save you time and money, getting you back out on the road fast!

I’m Locked Out Of My Car, What Do I Do Now?

I’m Locked Out Of My Car, What Do I Do Now?

We all know how it feels when that sudden realization hits you: you don’t know where your keys are. It is remarkably easy to lock your keys in your vehicle by accident. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life and all the things we have to remember, it’s a wonder we don’t all do it once a week. If you don’t drive a vehicle with a push-to-unlock button or keycode access, it’s likely you’ve done it more than once. Don’t be too hard on yourself—it happens, and Pop-A-Lock is here to help. Take the following course of action when it happens to you:


Don’t Panic

The first step is pretty self-explanatory. Again, life happens. Stay calm and collected, and remember that we are all only human. Unnecessary panic will put undue stress on you in an already stressful situation. There are ways to remedy this situation safely and efficiently.

Make Sure There are No Children or Pets in the Car

Accidents happen, and if your keys are locked in your car, that means any children or pets you had in the car with you may be as well. Kids and pets can overheat in vehicles very quickly, especially on hot summer days, so proper precautions should always be taken to ensure that they aren’t left in the car unattended. 

Locate the Nearest Phone

If your cellphone is on you, great! You can use it to contact someone to help, and in many cases, you can use your insurance company app to see what kind of roadside assistance you have available to you. If it’s locked in your car, however, you should head into the nearest business and ask to borrow a phone. Let them know you need your car door unlocked. If you know where your spare key is located in your home and you have someone that could bring it to you promptly, get in touch with them!

Call Your Local Pop-A-Lock

If you don’t have access to your spare, we will take care of you. We are here when life happens. Pop-A-Lock has been providing locksmith services since its founding in 1991, and we specialize in emergency car door unlocking services. We will send one of our talented and experienced locksmiths to your location as soon as possible to have you back in your vehicle quickly, efficiently, and safely. 

Our trained technicians are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist you. While car door locks are constantly evolving and are becoming more complicated, our team has the experience and knowhow to help you get into your vehicle in an emergency.  Contact your local Pop-A-Lock professional by phone at 1-(800) POP-A-LOCK or contact us online.

8 Ways To Help Prevent Vehicle Break Ins

Unfortunately, vehicle break-ins are an all-too-common occurrence. While there is no way to guarantee that you’ll never experience a break-in, there are specific precautions you can take to minimize the likelihood that it will happen. Remember that most crimes like these are crimes of convenience, so by implementing these extra steps, you can make it more difficult or unappealing to a would-be thief to break into your vehicle.

Below, we’ve included eight tips for protecting your car from break-ins.

  1. Lock your car doors and roll up the windows. Whenever you park, double check to see if your doors are locked and your windows are closed. In many cases, thieves look for unlocked cars as it is much  easier for them to steal items inside. Thieves do not want to bust a window or pick a lock if they don’t have to, because the longer they spend at the car, the more likely it is that someone will see them. Be sure to keep your car locked while you are driving, too. For instance, if your doors are unlocked, a carjacker could hop in while you’re stopped at a light!
  2. Park in well-lit areas.  Parking in a dark or shadowy areas makes it easier for thieves to break in without being seen. Thieves prefer to operate in the dark and are less likely to break into a car if it is in a well-lit area. If you have to park on the street at night, try to park under a street light.
  3. Install a security system and advertise it. An anti-theft system such as a steering wheel lock, ignition cut-off, or window alarm can be effective at preventing a burglary. A security system may include options such as motion sensors and sirens that sound if someone breaks in. Some new systems even have two-way communication so that when the alarm goes off, you are notified on your smartphone. Also, slapping a car alarm sticker on your window can help deter thieves – even if you don’t actually have a car alarm.
  4. Hide valuables. It’s best to avoid keeping any valuables in your car, but in times when you have to, be sure to cover them with a blanket or towel,  or put them in the trunk. Place small valuables in the center console or glove box. If valuables in your vehicle are visible, it drastically increases the chance a thief will target your car.
  1. Tint your windows. Window tint can make it difficult to see inside your car, and, if thieves can’t see into your vehicle, they’ll be less likely to break in because they don’t know that anything valuable is inside.  However, be sure to check the window tint regulations in your state. The front windshield is typically the most restrictive. A good rule of thumb for side windows is to choose tinting that allows for 35% of visible light through.
  1. Make your stereo less eye-catching. Stereo systems draw the attention of thieves and are among the most commonly stolen items during car break-ins. If you have an expensive stereo, consider removing the radio faceplate and putting it in your glove box whenever you leave your vehicle. A stereo without a faceplate makes it less valuable and therefore less likely to be stolen. Also, don’t put a decal advertising the brand of your stereo, as a noticeable name brand could be an appealing target for thieves.
  2. Don’t leave your car running. While you may be tempted to leave your car on if you’re just popping into a convenience store for a minute, that short period of time still gives someone a chance to jump in and steal your car. According to the FBI, in 2016 there were more than 765,000 thefts of motor vehicles in the United States.  Furthermore, in most states, it’s against the law to leave your car unattended and running.
  3. Do not park in places that don’t feel safe. Trust your instincts. Avoid places with no lights and no security cameras. If possible, avoid a secluded parking lot, as that allows thieves to break into your car with less risk of being seen. If you park where there are other cars, thieves may target a more vulnerable car instead of yours. Try not to park in places where you see people loitering. Sometimes thieves hang around and wait for people to park so they can then look in the car to see if there are valuables inside.

Criminals often prey on easy victims. Thieves are opportunistic, and if you eliminate their opportunities for theft, you are far less likely to become a target. Following the above tips should significantly decrease the chance that your car gets broken into. Always use common sense and stay safe.

Locked Out? Call Pop-A-Lock for Help

The expert locksmiths at Pop-A-Lock know that sometimes those same security systems that help prevent thieves from breaking in can also keep us out of our own vehicles! If you’ve locked your keys in your car or lost your keys, don’t try to break into your car to get them. Instead, contact one of our fast and friendly technicians for help. We’re available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help you get back into your vehicle and on the road.

The Dangers of Proximity Keys and Push to Start Cars

The remote proximity key – also known as “keyless entry” – allows you to open your vehicle and start it without touching the electronic key fob, a small device that transmits a code to a computer in the car when in close range. In vehicles with keyless, push-button ignition, the fob is recognized by the vehicle to authorize its operation. The fob can stay in the driver’s pocket or purse, as the ignition switch is a button on the dash.

This increasingly common technology has become a part of everyday cars, not just luxury models as it once was. Some car manufacturers even have smartphone apps, whose functions include remote starting.

While keyless entry and push-button ignition technology is convenient, it is not without dangers. In fact, a recent New York Times report found proximity keys could be partially responsible for dozens of fatalities in the United States.

The article tells the story of a Florida man who drove his SUV into his home garage and entered his house with the key fob, believing that the car was turned off. About 30 hours later, the man was found dead, having been killed by the carbon monoxide that engulfed his home while he was asleep. According to the Times, the man was among at least 25 people who were killed by carbon monoxide in the  United States since 2006, after a keyless-ignition vehicle was accidentally left running in a garage.

Safety watchdog groups have documented instances of drivers pushing the button to stop the engine before putting the vehicle in park, allowing their vehicle to roll away. Many car systems emit warnings or even shut down after the driver exits the car, and the fob is detected leaving with them. You could leave the fob in the car’s cup holder, for example, then after you exit, the vehicle doesn’t know to turn off.

Hybrid cars pose problems as well. They are very quiet when in electric mode – which they are often in when sitting still after parking. A driver can assume the car is shut down because the engine isn’t running. However, the vehicle may not be truly off. The engine could restart itself, to adjust the climate control, for instance, and therefore send carbon monoxide into the home. Make sure that whenever you enter your home,  any car parked in the garage is shut off. Being extra careful about this can prevent a tragedy.

Allow the Experts to Duplicate or Replace Your Fob or Key

If you need a new key or fob for your vehicle, you need a highly skilled and trained professional to ensure it will start your vehicle. At Pop-A-Lock, our key replacement services are affordable and reliable. We can get the job done much quicker – and cheaper – than the dealership. Call Pop-A-Lock today for help with:

  • transponder keys
  • fobs
  • keyless remotes
  • dealer chip keys programmed on-site
  • remotes programmed
  • electronic keys
  • key replacements
  • VATS keys

We are available 24/7 to meet your automobile key needs. Pop-A-Lock technicians can create the key you need on the spot. Our technicians are trained to program transponder, VAT, and smart keys for any vehicle. Our work is of the highest quality – guaranteed!

What are VATS Keys and How Do They Work?

What is a VATS Key?

The safety of our vehicles is extremely important to all of us. VATS keys, introduced by GM in 1986, were one of the first  keys to provide extra security measures, and therefore extra peace of mind that a vehicle is as safe as possible. VATS (Vehicle Anti-Theft System) keys were first used on Corvettes, because, as you can imagine, the sports car was a major target for thieves.

Since the invention of the VATS key did so well to reduce the number of stolen Corvettes, GM expanded the system to other models such as the Camaro, Firebird, and Cadillac Seville vehicles in their later models. VATS keys then became an industry standard as they appeared in other vehicles such as Buicks. The original VATS systems were popular through the early 2000s, and one of the last vehicles released with a traditional VATS system was the 2003 Firebird. The original VATS key systems paved the way for the levels of electronic vehicle security we have today.

Traditional Keys

There are a number of differences between traditional keys and VATS keys. Traditional mechanical keys provide just a basic level of security to vehicles. Two of the most common types of traditional mechanical keys are edge cut keys and side-winder keys.

Edge cut keys are the standard key variety that many vehicles have used for decades. The cuts are on the edge of the keys, and they can be copied by most standard key machines.

High security, or side-winder keys, offer a little more security than edge cut keys as they cannot be copied by standard key machines. In order to copy these keys, a particular type of machine must be used to engrave cut specifications into the key.

VATS Keys and How They Work

VATS keys are essentially the first electronic keys and, as such, provide a much-needed improvement in vehicle safety from their predecessors. VATS keys have resistors embedded in them, and when someone inserts a VATS key into the ignition of their vehicle, an electrical current runs through the resistor inside. The resistor value is read by a computer inside the car, and if it is not the same as the value in the computer’s memory, the car will not be able to start. This function provides extra security because a few minutes of stalling is plenty of time for a car thief to choose another vehicle to pursue.

Also, duplicating a VATS key is not as simple as going to a key copier at the store. In order to copy a VATS key, a locksmith will use a VATS interrogator to determine the resistance value of the key as it is important that they match, and then the cuts can be copied onto the blank key.

The Remote Keys of Today

Electronic keys have certainly come a long way since the release of the original VATS keys in the mid ‘80s. Nowadays, many of us have remote buttons we can use to lock and unlock our cars at the very least. Many vehicles now have keypads on which you can enter a code to unlock your car, and even push-to-start buttons that render a standard key unnecessary.

Proximity technology of locking and unlocking remotes that come with newer vehicles is a way push-to-start vehicles can remain safe, as long as the remotes stay in the possession of the vehicle’s owner. Today’s modern remote key fobs often have a number of functions in addition to locking and unlocking cars, including folding down mirrors, opening windows and sunroofs, and even remotely starting cars. Because car key technology is ever-advancing, locksmiths keep up with trends and will be able to answer any key-related questions you may have.

Need Help? Call the Key Experts at Pop-A-Lock

Regardless of the type of key or vehicle you have, the experts at Pop-A-Lock have the knowledge and trained technicians you need to retrieve keys locked in your car, or help replace lost or stolen keys. Founded in 1991 in Lafayette, Louisiana, we have over two and a half decades of experience as trained, educated, and dedicated locksmiths. All of our technicians are trained on the most up-to-date locksmith technology including VATS keys and any other type of vehicle key you have, and we are proud to serve more than 8,500 communities. Visit our website to find the Pop-A-Lock nearest you. We’re there when you need us.

Life Hack: Make Duplicate Car Keys To Avoid Stress and Hassle

Have you stressed out family members by vehemently safeguarding your one and only car key? Even worse, have you misplaced it just minutes before you are expected to pick up your kids at school, be at work on time or make it to an important event? Do you fear dropping your set of keys somewhere you can’t retrieve them from? Maybe you have already dealt with the hassle of locking yourself out of your vehicle – which is undeniably the worst-case scenario. Fortunately, there are relatively simple and cost-effective solutions from Pop-A-Lock to ensure that you never experience that stress again.

Duplicate Key

Every driver should have an extra car key (or multiple keys) in case one is misplaced. For safety, it’s also a good idea to have a duplicate accessible to your trusted loved ones in case of an emergency. If you’ve ever had to take someone to the hospital or have faced a similar crisis, you’ll understand how critical it is to have an extra key available, just in case. Let’s face it; car keys are lost or misplaced every day somewhere in the U.S. Don’t wait for an emergency to put a back-up plan in place.

What If I Only Received One Key Initially?

When you buy a new car, the dealership will typically give you two keys. But, if buying a used car, quite a few consumers are surprised when they receive only one key and are informed that it might cost them a few hundred dollars to buy an additional one. This happens for a variety of reasons, including:

Duplicate Key No Hassle
  • The previous owner lost or failed to return the other key when selling the car
  • The vehicle was repossessed, and the recovery agency only bought one set of keys to save themselves money
  • The dealer (usually a subprime finance lot or pay-on-the-spot dealership) will keep a key to make repossession easier if car payments are not made

Ultimately, you’ll find that it is never a good idea to have a single key for your vehicle. Vehicle keys are small and easily misplaced, and if you only have one key, you could find yourself unable to drive your car when you need it the most.

Will Insurance Cover a Lost Car Key?

According to the experts at Insurance.com, vehicle owners will typically have to pay out of pocket for the replacement of a lost car key. While many policies include Emergency Roadside Assistance coverage, these services usually only cover the costs of towing your vehicle someplace safe. Replacement of your car key will often be an out-of-pocket expense. Even if your comprehensive and collision coverage does cover lost, stolen, or damaged keys, insurance experts say that the cost of filing a claim (which could have a deductible of, say, $500 or $1000) is not worth the expense of merely buying a new key yourself.

Key Duplicate Insurance

How Do I Get a Second Key Made?

In spite of what many people think, car key duplication is NOT something that only the dealership can do for you. That also goes for electronic keys, VATS keys, remotes, and dealer chip keys. Many people don’t realize that they could quickly obtain a duplicate smart key or transponder key for their vehicle, without paying steep dealership prices.

Because most modern vehicles use these key fobs or remote control keys, getting a second key is not as easy as stopping at the hardware store to use the machine to cut and grind out a metal key that fits your ignition. Fortunately, it IS as easy as calling Pop-A-Lock’s trusted vehicle lock professionals, who can duplicate and program an extra smart key for you! In almost every case, buying a back-up key from a local locksmith service like Pop-A-Lock will be significantly less expensive than buying a key from the dealership.

If you find yourself in a tough situation and need to have a key made, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure to have your vehicle identification number (VIN) on hand. Your vehicle’s VIN will be a combination of seventeen letters and digits, and can usually be found on the driver’s side dashboard, visible through the window. On newer vehicles, the VIN might also be etched into the glass on the driver’s side window. The VIN will often be stamped or displayed on other parts of the vehicle, including the engine block, rear wheel well, door jamb, or trunk. Your automotive insurance paperwork will also have the vehicle’s VIN on it, so review your insurance policy if you need to locate the number there.
  2. Know the year, make, and model of your vehicle. The locksmith service will need to know this information to make and program a new key!
  3. Call your local automotive locksmith. Before you pay expensive dealership prices, be sure to contact a smart key duplication and programming professional like those at Pop-A-Lock. Their prices are often significantly less than a dealership, their services are typically much faster, and their professionally trained technicians can perform the programming of transponder, VAT, and smart keys for any make or model vehicle.
Pop-A-Lock Duplicate Key

Once you have the duplicate key made, be sure to keep it in a secure place that you can easily access. You can let your family and trusted friends know where the key will be stored, so they know where to find it in case of an emergency.

Ask anyone who has lost their car keys in the past, having a spare key will come in handy when you least expect it, and you’ll be relieved that you planned ahead!

The Evolution of the Car Key, and Why You Should Care

The average consumer may not realize this, but there are quite a few different types of automotive keys out there. As with much of today’s world, the car key is ever-evolving as technology and products change.

When it comes to your car’s security, it can be important to understand the difference between the key types and how each one came to be.

When it comes time for  locksmithing services for your car, it can be important – or at the very least helpful – to know what type of key your car has.

Below, our locksmith experts outline the different types of keys and how they’ve evolved, along with some important information for each type.

Traditional Keys:

Late 1940s:

Mechanical keys have provided basic security to motor vehicles since their inception. Currently, there are a few types of mechanical keys commonly seen.

Edge cut mechanical key

Edge cut keys: This is a garden variety key that you would find with most vehicles made before 2013, with the cuts directly on the edge of the key. These can be duplicated by most standard key machines that you would find in a hardware store or similar. If all copies of an edge cut key are lost, though, it typically requires a trained locksmith to determine the specifications or “code” of the key for that specific vehicle.


High Security or Side-Winder type keys: These are still mechanical keys, however in the mid 1970’s, some manufacturers decided they wanted to increase the security of their vehicles. They did this by implementing the use of a side-winder type key, which cannot be copied on standard key duplicators. These keys require a specialized type of cutter, which literally engraves the cut specifications on to the keyblade. Side-winder keys have since become extremely common on modern vehicles.

Lexus Sidewinder Key

Remote Keys:

The next evolution in car keys allow users to remotely lock and unlock their vehicle. They also include additional functions such as remote unlocking of the trunk, providing a panic button on the remote, and remotely starting the vehicle.

Remotes come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, frequencies and levels of security. Any Pop-A-Lock expert would be glad to answer any questions you have and help direct you toward the best remote key for your needs!


VAT keys were the first remote keys on the market. In the mid-1980s, General Motors began production on a new vehicle security system. In short, the new system made brute force attacks on the vehicle lock system less effective because the vehicles now also had an electronic “signature” that had to match what it expected to see when started.

VAT keys remained popular through the early 2000’s when General Motors completely switched over to the more effective RFID or transponder key system for the majority of its vehicles.

Early 2000s:

Transponder keys combine a mechanical edge or sidewinder key with a small RFID chip or RFID emulation circuit. These keys help further deter brute force attacks on vehicle locking systems.

When the vehicles sense a transponder key enter the ignition or when the ignition is rotated, the ignition lock cylinder and the transponder key communicate with radio frequencies. This lets the vehicle computer know if the key trying to turn on the vehicle is an authorized key.

Since their inception, transponder keys have evolved to be widely popular and increasingly secure. If you’ve driven a car made in the early 2000s, you’ve probably used one of these.

When transponder keys are lost or broken, creating a new key can present a significant challenge. There are a wide array of different chips, technologies and security levels across the spectrum of transponder-equipped vehicles, and a great deal of training and technology are needed to create new copies. But don’t worry, our Pop-A-Lock technicians have you covered! Call us today and we can help you get any new key you need. 

Today’s Keys

After decades of evolution, vehicle manufacturers continue to increase cars’ security. Today, there are two types of keys that provide the highest level of both security and convenience.


Remote Head Keys were the next step in the vehicle key evolution. As technology improved, manufacturers began to combine the mechanical key, the remote and often the transponder into a single unit. Most commonly-bought vehicles today use remote head keys, and they provide both additional security of the advanced key systems, as well as the convenience of conventional mechanical-only key systems.

Slot Key

Slot Keys were first introduced by BMW. The new key concept required no rotation of a key switch. Instead, you would insert a slot key or key fob into a slot on the dash and push a button to start the vehicle. This cut down on the number of moving mechanical parts, and relied solely on the electronic security embedded in the slot key to prevent unauthorized vehicle access.

Since then, a number of manufacturers – such as Nissan and Chrysler – have introduced key types that eliminated the need for the mechanical portion of the key entirely. Instead, the new keys have electronic-only access control for the vehicle. These are known as proximity keys. 

As transponder identification efficiency and range continued to increase, manufactures were able to produce vehicles with proximity keys – AKA touchless or smart keys – for their vehicles. This latest key system simply requires that the fob or smart key be in proximity of the vehicle in order to gain access or start the vehicle.

This system provides a great deal of convenience to owners but resulted in a higher cost of replacement in the case of lost or stolen keys.

There are quite a few key types and systems out there, each of which requires different knowledge and training on how to duplicate or replace. Knowing what type of key your vehicle has can be useful information if and when you find yourself calling a locksmith.

No matter what type of key you have, Pop-A-Lock has your back! Our technicians are trained and equipped to duplicate or replace virtually every make and model of vehicle key, and our prices are often deeply discounted from your what your local dealer can offer. Call us today to get a free quote!

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!