Please explain car keys to me

StewartR

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#1
I've lost one of the keys to my VW Golf. So I contacted the local VW dealer and asked what the procedure is to get a replacement.

1. I have to go in there with my V5 document, photo ID, and proof of address. - OK, I get that, they want to be sure that they're only making a key for the actual owner of the car.

2. I have to pay up front. - Well, their house their rules, I suppose. He didn't mention the price, so that's a surprise waiting for me tomorrow, and I bet it won't be a pleasant surprise.

3. The key has to be manufactured in and shipped over from Germany, which will take around 10-14 days. - OK, if the key is going to be made specifically for my car, I can appreciate that it might not be quick and easy.

4. When it arrives, I have to take my car in, plus any other keys I have, so that they can all be programmed together. - Wait, what?

This is what I don't understand. Why does it need to be specially made in Germany *and* then also need to be programmed for my car? If it needs to be programmed, what can't it be a simple generic blank? Alternatively, if it's specially made in Germany specifically for my car, why doesn't it come ready to use?

What am I missing? Can somebody explain?
 

Jimmy_Lemon

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#2
I could be very wrong but I think there are two parts. The traditional key with its specific and unique "pattern" that fits into your ignition and locks etc. There is then the imobiliser which is electronic in some way that needs to be present in the key for the ignition to actually be turned on. That has always been my understanding of it anway.
So they key is "cut" in germany to your specific cars "pattern" and then needs to be "programmed" to match your other keys when it is over here....I guess.
 

nilagin

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#3
I don't see why the key has to be cut in Germany and why the dealer can't do it. But the new key would have to be programmed to the car. I don't know why they would need the other keys unless they are being recoded along with the car to prevent the lost key ever being found and being able to open and start the car. To cut and code one key would normally be around £100, to code your remaining key and the car if that is what they are doing could well cost more on top. I am surprised they haven't given you a price as I didn't think they were allowed to carry out any work until they have your permission and provided a price.
 
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#5
Could be wrong, but I was told a few years ago when I had a key playing up and it was replaced, they need all the keys, as they are all re-programmed again and the car knows which keys are assigned to it - so in your case, ruling out the lost one, in case someone found it and tried to open / drive your car away - as they would have a proper key, which is disabled from the car (hope that makes sense...)
 

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#6
Complete guess but it may be that there is some computer record of which immobiliser code goes with which vehicle/key/etc. Can you imagine if that got hacked or if some dishonest employee downloaded and sold the data? So it might be that VW keep it off line and with very restricted access, hence they do whatever they need to do in Germany rather than run the risk of sending that data out.
 
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#7
How old is the Golf, if it is a fairly recent model then yes, you will have to pay a small fortune, its all the computer wizardry that goes into todays key fobs to stop the cars from being nicked. Having said that it seems on todays news car theft is on the increase, especially keyless entry types.
 

nilagin

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#9
Complete guess but it may be that there is some computer record of which immobiliser code goes with which vehicle/key/etc. Can you imagine if that got hacked or if some dishonest employee downloaded and sold the data? So it might be that VW keep it off line and with very restricted access, hence they do whatever they need to do in Germany rather than run the risk of sending that data out.
Locksmiths can cut and programme car keys, including VW's. It will probably look different to the original however.
 
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#10
I don't see why the key has to be cut in Germany and why the dealer can't do it. But the new key would have to be programmed to the car. I don't know why they would need the other keys unless they are being recoded along with the car to prevent the lost key ever being found and being able to open and start the car. To cut and code one key would normally be around £100, to code your remaining key and the car if that is what they are doing could well cost more on top. I am surprised they haven't given you a price as I didn't think they were allowed to carry out any work until they have your permission and provided a price.
Yeah - exactly that - they will want the other keys so they can recode them. The new key has to come from Germany because, well VAG say so. And it takes 10 - 14 days because who knows? I could buy something from Germany on the 'bay and have it here for the weekend. If it was the size of a key then signed for would be about a tenner max. At a guess they make it a long process to justify the price.

my car insurance covers all that s***, doesn't yours?
If you choose to claim. Obviously for the cost of the excess and a fault claim on your policy........... Bear in mind that the instant you tell them you have lost a key you either go along with their claim process or be told you aren't covered if the car is stolen :)

BTW I'd be sitting down when they tell you the price. I've heard some *very* scary stories about the cost of replacement keys. It's almost like they want you to buy a new car.
 
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#12
I remember my Nissan the transponder chip in the key could be either added to the car (the car would support 4 of them). Or you could reset the system and then program all the keys you have. The advantage of this is that a stolen / lost key couldn't be used, where as adding a key would allow the lost one to be used.

I also remember losing the chip from my key in my old Astra when changing batteries - you could open the doors, but not start the car.
 
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#13
Ex parts dept here, the keys are often laser cut to pattern kept by the factory, replacement key cutting is slotted into breaks in the standard production line so can take a while, the fob, the electronic part, needs to be programmed to the car but all car keys and eco are programmed to new setting, a new key can’t be put into the existing system, if you had a key stolen this renders it useless to the thief as the car is now working to a new code.
I have sold new “smart” keys at £400 programmed inc vat, standard keys £250+, not cheap, many folk with lost keys went away to re look for a lost key after getting a quote.
 
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#14
Arrowsmall.jpg

This.

My last replacement cost me £270.00+ - luckily at the time I was VAT registered so put it through the business. :mad:
 
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#15
We lost a key to the MX-5. £257 for Mazda to replace because they said it needed to be programmed. Took them 3 attempts to get the right key (they sold us the car new) then they couldn't program it, saying we'd need a whole new imobiliser system, but still charged my wife the £257 for the key 'as it had been cut'. Useless to use as it set off the alarm as soon as you opened the car with the key, or wouldn't set the alarm if locked with the key.

Owners club showed me how to reprogram all keys within 2 mins using a very simple process.... Mazda main dealer weren't interested in our findings
 
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#16
That's Brexit for you Bl**dy Germans :)
 

nilagin

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#17
A new fob for my car is about £70 plus less than an hour labour to cut the blade and program.
 
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#18
A new fob for my car is about £70 plus less than an hour labour to cut the blade and program.
Yeah but you drive a Ford :)
(So did I until a few weeks ago and loved it)
 

nilagin

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#19
Yeah but you drive a Ford :)
(So did I until a few weeks ago and loved it)
Ford are bringing out new keyfobs for keyless entry cars. (New cars are now coming readily equipped) The fob goes to sleep after remaining still for 30 seconds and theives can't boost the signal to steal cars. I will be replacing both fobs as soon as they are available.
 
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StewartR

StewartR

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#20
Thank to everyone who contributed to helping me understand. As things happened, my wife found my car key in her handbag, literally just as I was about to go out to the VW dealer. So I didn't get to ask them about the details.

I am surprised they haven't given you a price as I didn't think they were allowed to carry out any work until they have your permission and provided a price.
I didn't ask about the price; I just asked about the procedure prior to going in to the dealer.

If I was that interested I’d have asked the dealer!
I probably would have, but as things worked out, I didn't need to. My questions didn't occur to me when I was on the phone to the dealer, only later.

Ex parts dept here, the keys are often laser cut to pattern kept by the factory, replacement key cutting is slotted into breaks in the standard production line so can take a while, the fob, the electronic part, needs to be programmed to the car but all car keys and eco are programmed to new setting, a new key can’t be put into the existing system, if you had a key stolen this renders it useless to the thief as the car is now working to a new code.
Thanks. That seems to make sense. I still don't understand why the key has to be cut in Germany - it looks like something any key cutting shop could do for about £4.99. But still, as noted abve it's all a bit academic now.,
 
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#21
IIRC, on my E36 M3, there were 3 parts to the key, there's the physical key-cutting, the programming (performed at dealer) which was ONLY for the central-locking and additional buttons to be paired with the car, and finally the immobiliser which could NOT be programmed specifically and was a very specific chip which is what takes the time to obtain from the main manufacturing plants.

My Mk4 Golf was the same, programming rarely includes the immobiliser as it's an additional security layer.
 
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#22
My e92 M3 is funny with keys too, I took my spare into BMW to get the car serviced and they plugged my key into the reader and told me my card didn't need serviced, strange I though, until they asked if that's my daily key and I said no. Apparently all the info is kept on the key for the car. So when I use my spare key to unlock the car, my driver seat and mirrors all move to the wires seating position and my key does my own settings. Cant be cheap for that.
 
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#23
TBh i think its all a commercial con, i haven't had a car key done for years, but have had bikes with immobilisers (but obviously i didn't need the central locking bit :) )

but I've had plenty of truck keys done with all the bells and whistles and every single time, I order, a day/two later blank arrives and then i have to get the truck to them or them to the truck to code it all. Last time i waited it took approx 15 minutes.

You wouldn't ever put up with a 2-week wait in our commercial world, so why should private customers like you?
 

Nod

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#24
Simple immobilisers are a completely different kettle of fish to the current crop of transponder type remotes. It's possible to get a passive immobiliser key cut and programmed at Timpsons but as pointed out above, the more sophisticated transponder ones need to be paired with the vehicle - or have the vehicle paired to them!

Stewart, glad your original turned up - sounds like your wife is as good with keys as mine... (Hire car keys, last evening of holiday - keys go missing... Turn up packed in the toe of a shoe...)
 
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#25
4. When it arrives, I have to take my car in, plus any other keys I have, so that they can all be programmed together. - Wait, what?

This is what I don't understand. Why does it need to be specially made in Germany *and* then also need to be programmed for my car? If it needs to be programmed, what can't it be a simple generic blank? Alternatively, if it's specially made in Germany specifically for my car, why doesn't it come ready to use?

What am I missing? Can somebody explain?
Wait! What...?

Do you realise that if there is a generic blank car key, there could be a possibility that thieves could get hold of those, by any means. Bent worker on the inside, slipping a bunch of keys out, goods stolen while being shipped form the factory that made the keys to the factory that made the cars, anything is possible. And once those thieves get hold of generic blanks, all they have to do is just cut them and use them. That would be as bad as thieves getting hold of generic room key cards so those could be used to open any rooms in a hotel, and the thieves happily waltz in.

It is possible that for security reasons the car manufacturers prefer replacement keys should be cut and programmed from scratch, just like a hotel having key cards that needs to be programmed with the room number you booked.
 
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#26
My Clubman JCW doesn't have anywhere to physically put a key into. It's keyless start with comfort access, but I still have a traditional "key" with the electronics inside it. I guess there probably is a way to use the key to gain access, although I've never noticed it....
 

nilagin

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#27
My Clubman JCW doesn't have anywhere to physically put a key into. It's keyless start with comfort access, but I still have a traditional "key" with the electronics inside it. I guess there probably is a way to use the key to gain access, although I've never noticed it....
I have keyless start and entry. There is a key blade inside of each remote fob. There is just one physical lock on the drivers door should the need arise. The blade doesn't require a transponder or immobiliser counterpart as they are in the fobs..
 

Nod

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#28
Both the XF and the Leaf are "keyless" entry and both have blades in the fobs and a couple of keyholes. Those on the XF are behind covers. There is (apparently) a keyhole in the Mini's driver's door.
 

Nod

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#30
Probably. Might be worth checking the manual...
 
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#31
VW keys are cut in Germany as that's where all the security data for key pattern etc is all stored. Dealers don't have anything to cut the key with. It takes 10-14 days as they have to interrupt the process of making keys for new cars to remake a key. The key has to be programmed to the car, with all other keys you have as when you go to code a new key it wipes all the keys out first before learning the new ones and relearning the existing ones. This is to stop a lost key from being able to start the car if for example they were stolen with the intent to go back for the car at a later date.
 
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