How Does a Locksmith Make a Car Key? 

The answer to this question is that it takes a lot of work, expertise, and knowledge in order for a locksmith to make a car key. The process involves a whole host of technical and engineering skills and specialized equipment that can take hours of training to become proficient in. 

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Getting the right information

To begin making your key, you need to give a locksmith specific details about your vehicle. This includes the year, model and vehicle identification number (VIN). You must also have proof of ownership, such as title or registration, at hand to prove you are the owner. 

Finding the right blank

Once you know the make, model and year of your vehicle, it is easy to source the key blank that will fit your locks. A professional locksmith will use their knowledge of the industry and specialized software to source the correct key blanks and the appropriate transponder chip for your car, depending on its model. 


To make a new key, the locksmith will insert a small specialized scope into the lock. This will allow them to carefully examine the locking cylinders and cut a key to match the unique properties of that particular lock. This is a non-destructive and completely safe method of creating keys. 

Cutting and programming the key

After the locksmith has found a key blank that will suit your lock, they will then need to determine how to program it. This can be done through a mechanical key cutting machine or a laser cutter. 

Some automotive locksmiths are able to cut and program keys on-site, using their specialized tools and software. This is a fast and efficient way to create a new key but does require that the locksmith have access to the right tools. 

Visual decoding

A professional locksmith can also use a technique called visual decoding to create a key from an existing lock or deadbolt. This is an effective and reliable solution when a lock has been damaged or is old, allowing a locksmith to create a new key without having to replace it. 

The specialized equipment required to do this can cost many thousands of dollars, but it is well worth the investment. The software that a locksmith uses will tell them the best method for your key and the right tools to use to perform this task. 

Tests and Quality assurance

Finally, after the locksmith has made your keys they will need to be tested in order to ensure that they function properly and are not faulty. This can include testing to see if the key opens the doors, turns on the engine and functions as it should. 

Once the keys have been tested and approved, they are ready to be cloned or programmed into your vehicle. This process can take anywhere from two minutes to 30 minutes depending on the type of vehicle and requires a computer that is specialized to your particular car model. 

A professional locksmith will also be able to re-program your transponder key if you are unable to locate the original. This can be very time consuming and can take an hour or more, but it is the only way to ensure your car starts up when you get back in.