Every new car comes with at least one spare key, and in some cases two. However, by the time that car ends up on the used market the spares could well be lost, broken or even stolen.
Spare keys pose a serious security risk to used car buyers, because theres no easy way to know how many fit a particular car or where they are
Its not unknown for criminals to sell a stolen or cloned car to an unsuspecting buying, and then steal it back a day later with the help of a spare key. This means they can sell the same vehicle again and again. Even if youve bought a vehicle thats above board, its still possible for the car to disappear if someone has access to a spare key.
Most modern cars come equipped with an engine immobiliser, as well as remote central locking and an alarm. These systems rely on the electronics inside a cars key fob. In addition to a unique key that fits the locks, the key fob remote is coded to each specific car, so it unlocks the doors remotely, disarms the immobiliser and switches off the alarm.
When buying a used car you should always ask the seller about spare keys. If buying from a dealer you should expect a spare, but with private sellers they might have genuinely lost or misplaced them.
A franchised dealer will be able to organise a replacement key, and programme a new key fob remote. In most cases they can also see how many other keys are synchronized to that car, and delete them from the system.
Unfortunately, the cost of ordering a spare key from a dealer can be 250 or more.
As an alternative, consider contacting a member of the Auto Locksmiths Association (www.autolocksmiths.net). It has members across the country and can perform the same services as a dealer, yet can save you as much as 50% on the bill.