If you’ve lost the keys to your car, you will probably call a few different locksmiths and the dealership to get an estimate to replace your keys. The dealership usually only needs your VIN to provide a quote. Many locksmiths ask only for the year, make and model of your car. And then you call Pop-A-Lock. I hear the frustration in customers’ voices often as I ask several questions more than the others companies they called. It’s just a car key, what’s with the third degree, right?

One thing that sets Pop-A-Lock of Greater Rochester apart from other locksmiths is our promise to our customers that we will give you the most accurate quote possible – and then we stick to that pricing. In order to do that, we need a lot of information. Locksmithing seems pretty straightforward, but there are many variables that can affect the cost.

Here are some of the questions we ask and why:

Where are you located? Don’t worry, we would never send a locksmith to you without your consent. However, our pricing depends on how far we have to drive to get to you. Most of Monroe County falls under the same service call rate, but it costs a little more to drive to farther areas like Hilton, Walworth and Canandaigua. We also need to know your approximate location so we can give you an estimate of when we’d arrive. If you’re at Greece Ridge Mall, it will take our locksmiths longer to get to you if they are at the Eastside YMCA than if they are at the Mt. Read Wegmans.

What is the year, make and model of your car?Vehicle systems and key options can vary greatly from year to year or model to model. A key for a vehicle that requires a chipped key will be more expensive because that key also needs to be programmed. Furthermore, knowing the year, make and model of your vehicle tells us which key is needed. Although many keys appear to be identical, they can contain different chips. Only the key with the correct FCC ID for your vehicle will work for your car.

How do you start your car: Push a button, twist a knob or stick the key in the ignition and turn? Depending on the make, model and production year of your vehicle, there may be more than one ignition style.

Do you have any existing working keys? If you have a working key, then a locksmith can use that key as a guide to cut and program a new key. Even if you have a key that used to work but is now broken, we can sometimes either use that key as a guide or put the electrical components into a new key (a process called reshelling). However, if you do not have any working keys, then the locksmith needs to generate a new key. Key generation involves more labor and is thus more expensive than making a key copy.

Did the same key unlock your car door and start the vehicle? What we’re trying to find out is whether your ignition has been replaced. There are two ways to generate a new ignition key. The first is to pick and decode your door lock, which is easier to access with our tools than the ignition cylinder. The second is to purchase a code from the manufacturer. If your ignition was replaced and not rekeyed to match your door lock, then we can’t use the door lock to make a new ignition key. And the keycode that the manufacturer has won’t work, either, because the new ignition was not rekeyed to match the code on file with the manufacturer.

Making a car key seems like a straightforward task. However, there are many variables that determine the cost. It may be irritating to have to answer so many questions just to get a quote. However, the more information we have, the more accurate a quote we can provide.