You’ve lost your car key, or it’s starting to wear down and you’re not sure if you should replace it.

It’s easy to lose your car key or have it stolen. If you don’t have a spare, you could be stuck on the side of the road or be unable to get into your house or office. Car key replacement can be expensive, but delaying can cost even more.

When is the right time to replace an old car key? That depends on how often you use it and how well it’s been taken care of.


Here are the 15 signs you should be aware of when is the right time to replace your old car keys!


1. It sticks

If your key is starting to stick, it may be time for a replacement. Sticking can mean you’re not getting the full benefit of each turn and could lead to more damage to your key or lock.


2. Your key goes in but won’t turn

If turning your key has become difficult, you might need a new one. This could be caused by dirt buildup around the teeth on your key or lock cylinder, which makes it harder for them to connect with one another.


3. It’s easy to lose

Keys that are easily lost or misplaced are sometimes due to wear and tear; they’ve been used so often they no longer look like keys!

If this happens, don’t risk using these keys, as they could be copied by a criminal.


4. Your key doesn’t work

If your key stops working all of a sudden, it might have been compromised by a criminal or you may have accidentally damaged the lock or key itself.

Either way, if it no longer works, you should replace it.


5. The color is fading

Car keys that are made from metal tend to rust and fade over time with wear and tear. If this is happening to your car keys, you need a replacement ASAP!

Even though locksmiths can buff out some stains on metal keys, eventually those colors will come back with more usage.


6. The color is chipped or scratched

If your key has started to get chipped or has scratches, it might be time to get a replacement.

It’s best to just get a new one before you experience any problems getting into your home or office due to colored chips and scratches.


7. You see mold growing on the inside of your fob

Mold growing inside your car remote means water damage, which can lead to malfunctioning buttons, corroded contacts and wires–and even completely dysfunctional remotes!

If you see mold in your remote, don’t risk taking it into an area that has moisture. Replace it, and then take your old one to the locksmith to be recycled in an eco-friendly way.


8. Your key is more than six years old

Most car keys made after 1994 are laser cut at over 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit using a deep hole drilling process that produces clean cuts without burrs or chips.

If you can see scratches on your key or notice any unevenness in its metal surface, you need to replace it with a new one ASAP!


9. It looks worn out

Car keys that look like they’re worn down can mean trouble for your locks and ignition. If parts of your key are smooth and shiny, cracks or pits show up on the key or lock cylinder, or your head is bent or broken off, get a new one!


10. It’s old school

If you still have an old school car key (i.e., not laser-cut), it may be time to make the switch to a new keyless entry set and remote start system!

Old school car keys (metal) are easily snapped by thieves, can corrode or rust over time, and are vulnerable to criminal tampering.


11. You share your car key with someone else

If you’re sharing one set of keys with another person–especially if that person isn’t supposed to have them in the first place–it’s time for a key replacement!

If you don’t want to get new ones for everyone, at least take yours out of the ignition so no one is tempted to drive your car without permission.


12. Your spare key doesn’t work

Your replacement spare should be exactly like your main set of keys–minus the ability to start the engine, of course.

If any one of your keys is compromised or doesn’t unlock or lock doors properly, replace them all!

Otherwise, it’s easy for someone to break into your car and drive off in it.


13. You lost your only spare

There are few things worse than losing your only set of car keys–except maybe when that means you can no longer start or drive your car!

If you go ahead and order a new replacement, consider keeping it somewhere other than in the vehicle itself (like at an office or friend’s house).


14. The maker’s name or logo is hard to read

If you can’t tell what brand your car keys are from the markings, it might be time to get a new set made!

Car locksmiths can often trace a key back to its original manufacturer and maybe even find a copy of the same one if you provide them with the make and model number of your vehicle.


15. Your keys are bent

If any of your car keys have started to get a bend in them from use, take them out and measure their thickness before you replace them. If they’re under .03 inches thick, it’s time to make the switch!


FAQs About Replacing an Old Car Key


How can I be sure my locksmith or dealership is using new keys?

Since laser-cut car keys are expensive, some locksmiths may give you old ones to save money.

If your locksmith offers to save you some dough by giving you an older key that looks the same, tell them it’s not worth taking a chance on breaking into your car or having your car stolen–your life could depend on it!


How long will my replacement key last?

Replacement keys generally don’t last as long when compared with original factory-cut keys.

However, if they are laser cut correctly, they should work for up to 20 years with proper care and maintenance.

Just keep in mind that once your locks begin to wear down, they won’t work properly.


How often should I get a replacement key?

If you’re in constant fear that you might crush your remote or can’t see the buttons anymore, it’s time for a new one! You don’t want to risk getting locked out of your car when it matters most.


Where can I get re-fashioned keys for my car?

When locksmiths can no longer cut car keys by hand, they turn back to the factory to order blanks–much like how universal remotes were made before technology advanced.

Just like buying batteries for electronics at the store — only less expensive!


How much does it cost to replace a car key?

Car key replacement cost typically varies from $20 to as much as $100 or more, depending on the make and model of your car.

However, locksmiths often give discounts for life-saving reasons, especially if you’ve been a longtime customer.

And don’t forget insurance! If you have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, check with your insurer to see if they offer free replacements for lost keys–it’s definitely worth looking into!


Are you looking for a locksmith in Washington DC, Maryland, and, Baltimore?

WE HAVE MORE THAN 25 YEARS EXPERIENCE with all types of locksmith services including residential lockouts, commercial lockouts, automotive lockout service, emergency lockout service, rekeying locks, master key systems installation & repair, high-security locks installation & repair.

You can trust our technicians, and we provide quality workmanship at affordable prices.


Call us today at 24/7 Toll-free: (877) 285-0408, Washington DC: (202)800-262, Maryland: (240) 345-1455 and Baltimore: (410) 670-7799. You can also email us at

King Locksmith and Doors Inc. DC & Maryland