Key Cutting: Why it should be done by a Certified Locksmith

Getting copies made of keys is something we all have to do at some point. Many hardware or home improvement stores offer key cutting services. Why should you choose your local certified locksmith over these alternatives?

Here’s why you should have a certified locksmith do all your key cutting.

They can duplicate any key

Having your keys cut by a certified locksmith means you will always have a key that works. Whether you need a new house key, car key or specialty key, a locksmith will have the correct key blank. Many hardware stores with key cutting services don’t have more specialized key blanks. Unless you are duplicating a standard house key, chances are good that they won’t be able to help.

Not only do certified locksmiths have a wide array of key blanks, but they are trained in key cutting. Their machines are calibrated more often, meaning you get a more accurate copy. This is especially important for car keys. Newer car locks and ignitions are more sensitive and require a closer-fitting key. Locksmiths can also program a new transponder to your car, eliminating the need for buying duplicate keys from the dealer.

If you don’t have the key you need duplicated, a certified locksmith can also cut a new key for an existing lock.

They specialize in locks

What’s in a name? For a locksmith – plenty. A certified locksmith in Chicago understands locks and will ensure that your new key is perfect. One thing a locksmith generally does is ensure that there are no sharp edges or imperfections. By smoothing off the newly cut metal, a certified locksmith guarantees that it won’t scratch or damage the inside of your lock.

A lock that is scratched or damaged may work improperly or cause a moving part to shift when it shouldn’t. That could result in your new key working in the morning but not when you get home from work. It could also result in your new key getting stuck.

They stand behind their product

It’s already been stated that certified locksmiths are trained in key cutting. Not only does this mean that they do high-quality work, but also that they can do it quickly and efficiently. Getting your keys cut by someone who doesn’t specialize in it means a greater chance of error.

If a key from a hardware store doesn’t work, you have to go through a refund process and possibly have someone else try to cut a working key. The majority of certified locksmiths will re-cut a key on the spot if it doesn’t work in your lock.

Whether you need a spare for a friend or in case you lose your original, key cutting is best left to a certified locksmith. If you need a new key cut, call Omega Locksmith and be assured of a high-quality new key that really works.

Money Saving Tips From an Auto Locksmith

If you have ever found yourself in the unenviable position of having lost your only car key, then you already know that getting a replacement (whether from the dealership or through an auto locksmith) can be extremely expensive. With all the latest security features on car locks and ignitions, getting a replacement key is no longer as simple as going to the hardware store and having one cut. Ordering a replacement from the dealership can run hundreds of dollars. With all that said, how can you save money and still get a new key that works?

Have a Spare

Yes, it sounds so simple, but one of the easiest ways to save money down the line is to have a mechanical key cut. For newer cars, it generally won’t start the ignition, but will ensure that you aren’t locked out. Having a mechanical key that fits your car also makes it easier for an auto locksmith to not only come out to your location, but also program a transponder to your car, eliminating a crucial and potentially very expensive step.
Again, this seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of people wait until they need that spare to order it. In this case, a little preparation can save you a lot of money down the line.

Call Your Insurance Company

Believe it or not, many insurance companies will cover all or part of the cost of replacing lost or stolen car keys. Whether you order them from a dealership or have them cut by an auto locksmith, it’s definitely worth finding out if this is covered by your policy. If you are unable to find any information about lost or stolen key replacement, try giving your insurance agent a call. It won’t take long, but it has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars. Plus, some companies will even pay for a hired car in the event yours is out of commission for a few days.

Store Your Information

You know that little tag that comes with new car keys, the one that has a little code on it? Save it. Keep it somewhere safe, as that little tag can save you a lot of money in the long run. The thing is, that code is the key code. It can tell your auto locksmith exactly which key goes with your car. This means that in the event you lose your keys and don’t have a spare, the locks will not need to be pulled. Pulling locks is a lot more expensive than having a key made, so if you can tell your locksmith which key that you need, it will save you a ton of money.

Getting locked out and losing keys happens to everyone, and as stated, getting replacement car keys can be a lot more expensive than getting other keys made. Luckily, with these tips and preventative measures, you can potentially save yourself a lot of money. Of course, using a well-respected locksmith with experience is also a great idea!

Do You Have to Reprogram a Key Fob after Changing the Battery?

Key fobs are like any other electronic device. Eventually, they need a battery change if they’re going to continue to function.

Most key fobs do at least have batteries that last a long time and aren’t in continuous use, so some car owners can go for years without having to worry about changing them. Some car owners buy and sell their cars again without ever having to touch the inside of a fob.

However, if you find yourself swapping those batteries out you may indeed run into a common problem. Sometimes a key fob requires reprogramming after a battery change. Many people have found this out the hard way, performing what seemed to be a routine activity only to find that the fob stops working.

Whether or not this will be a problem for you depend largely upon the car you are driving. Sometimes you can even get the heads up by reading your owner’s manual. If that is the case, there will be instructions for changing the fob battery and/or reprogramming the fob.

Sometimes, however, the car just randomly decides it’s not going to recognize the fob after the battery change, even if there’s no discernible reason for this behavior. When that happens you can try to reprogram the fob yourself. If that doesn’t work you’ll have little choice but to call a locksmith.

You also have the option of going directly to the locksmith to handle the battery change from the get-go. This may save you time, anxiety, and headaches. The service isn’t very expensive, and if you plan ahead you won’t wind up stranded when you’ve got somewhere to be.

Either way, Omega locksmith is here for you.

What If Your Key Ring Acted Like a Swiss Army Knife?

Let’s face it–most people pick up a lot of keys during their adult life. The result? A big, bulky, noisy, and frustrating key ring.

Fortunately, someone has come up with a great solution. This little Key Smart 2.0 organizes your keys and turns them into a neat, clean, “Swiss Army Knife” style package that’s a lot easier to deal with.

This is a great idea for two major reasons.

It will allow you to save your ignition switch.

Unless you’re in a newer car with an “on” switch, your keys are probably still dangling from the ignition every time you drive.

The bigger your key ring, the more problematic this can become. Over time, the weight puts a strain on your ignition. It will eventually fail, which means your car won’t start.

With the Key Smart the weight isn’t going to hang straight down, which means your ignition will last a lot longer.

Keys won’t get lost as often.

Traditional key rings often include those cheap aluminum rings that tend to get warped over time. Sooner or later they’re going to twist open and send keys off to Never-Never land. This means you’ve got to call a locksmith so you can get back into your house or car.

With something like the Key Smart you’re much less likely to lose any of your most important keys. They’ll be tucked neatly away until you’re ready to use them.

They’re cheap, and they make good gifts.

You can get a Key Smart for less than $20. We’re smack dab in the middle of the holiday season right now, and while the team at Omega locksmith doesn’t recommend products too often, we do see the merit in this one. As far as gift giving goes, the device solves a problem that almost everyone has, making it a great gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list.

 

Would You Put Your Keys in the Cloud?

Today, we ran across a news article talking about a key copying kiosk which will allow users not only to make new key copies, but to store copies of those keys “in the cloud” as well. The idea is customers can come back at any time to access their accounts, pull up their saved keys and get new copies on the spot.

These little boxes are on their way to Chicago right now, so of course we had a few thoughts about them.

These boxes will make residential rekeying more important than ever.

Those key copy boxes have definitely made an effort to provide good security–no argument there. You have to provide a fingerprint to get access to your stored copies, for example. Well and good–it will help prevent hackers from getting keys to every door in Chicago.

It does not, however, mean that you’ll never need the services of a locksmith ever again. Consider the following scenario.

You purchase a house or a condo. The former owner turns over all of the existing key copies…except for the ones that are stored in the cloud. He or she then goes back to the kiosk, which has no way of knowing this person no longer has a right to access the key stored in the cloud. They copy the key and come back whenever they want to steal, snoop, or worse.

Or how about a babysitter or a house sitter? This is almost as dangerous as the key copying app, only now the criminal gets instant access.

Bottom line? You move into it? You’d better rekey it. Fire an employee? Better rekey it. Hand your key out to someone you do not absolutely trust? Better call a locksmith and rekey it.

Buying a used car? Rekey that, too.

These boxes are supposedly capable of copying smart keys and transponder keys too. This means someone could sell you a car on Monday and take it back on Tuesday, unless, of course, you call and get your car completely rekeyed.

Having your keys in the cloud does not mean never needing a locksmith ever again.

Being able to get a replacement key in an instant is very helpful–but only if you’re near one of the boxes. If you’re out in the suburbs or too far away to be brought to one then your safest and most convenient bet is probably going to be a mobile locksmith.

Bottom line: use these kiosks if you like, but watch your security and keep our number handy anyway.

How Long Does It Take a Dealership to Provide New Keys?

What would it be like to be without your car for 2 to 3 weeks? Chances are, your life would be far more difficult. You’ll either have to get a rental, which will cost hundreds of dollars, or you’ll have to start navigating public transportation–which may or may not be feasible for you.

But that’s exactly what will happen if you lose a transponder key and attempt to get help from your car dealership. They’ll want to sell you on replacing an entire computer system, instead of a simple key. This process is not fast, which means you’ll be living without your vehicle for weeks.

Plus, computer replacement is expensive. A full ECM replacement really does take up to three weeks. Who needs that?

How long does it take a qualified locksmith to replace keys?

We can usually take care of this problem very quickly by using the “reflashing” technique. We simply reprogram the existing computer and teach it to accept new keys.

We then hand over your new key set so you can get back on the road. It’s simple, it’s fast, and it is far, far less expensive. Reflashing costs a couple of hundred dollars, whereas computer replacements cost a couple of thousand.

Why don’t dealerships just reflash car keys?

Well, we don’t want to be cynical here, but…it’s all about the money.

First, dealerships aren’t really in the business of locksmithing to begin with, so they don’t want to buy reflashing equipment. Second, their reasoning is this: why wouldn’t they want to get that extra couple of thousand dollars for replacing your computer? From their perspective, the loss of your car keys comes as something of a windfall.

Don’t go through this hassle and expense.

Contact Omega Locksmith today. We’ll dispatch one of our trained locksmiths to you at any time, day or night. We’ll get you back on the road in no time.

Hey Chicago, We’ve Expanded!

Here at Omega Locksmith we know there is truly nothing more frustrating than being locked out of your car when you’ve got somewhere to be. That’s why we recently added new vans to our fleet and new employees to our team. We wanted to give Chicago 24 hour, 7 day a week, 365 day a year coverage.

We just noticed more and more people are having a great deal of trouble with their transponder keys. Those keys are pretty awesome until they stop working, seemingly at random and without warning. And unfortunately, the dealership is not open 24 hours (and is the last place you want to go to replace your transponder keys anyway). The dealership has also been known to charge thousands of dollars for key replacements.

Meanwhile, we can reproduce keys for over 2,300 cars for just a couple of hundred dollars per visit. We can also typically show up at your location within 30 minutes or less, especially if you’re out in suburbs like Lombard.

Click here to read our explanation of why dealerships take so long and cost so much.

Rest assured we were not haphazard about hiring our new team members. We looked for locksmiths who are passionated, experienced, trained and trustworthy. After verifying their integrity and skills we took the time to train them on the latest key cutting computer system. This was actually a lot of fun — some of our new guys were pretty excited to see what they’d be able to do when armed with the latest technology.

So go ahead, give us a call. You’ll get a free, straightforward quote and fast service at any time, day or night.

Beware the Key Copying App

Now, the phrase, “there’s an app for that” extends to making key copies. And unfortunately, this app can actually be pretty dangerous.

The app allows you to scan your key with a smart phone. You get a new key in the mail a few days later.

Nifty, right? Only you don’t actually have to prove the key belongs to you to get it. So anyone who can get their hands on your keys for even a few minutes can have a copy of their very own. The app can’t verify that the scanner of the key is the owner of the key and sends the key out to whatever address is entered into the system.

Let’s talk about how to protect yourself.

Control access to your keys.

Make sure you only give your keys to people you’d want to allow into your house. If you’ve ever left your keys with anyone else, even for a moment (most commonly with car mechanics or with valets) then call a locksmith for a full home rekey and be more vigilant in the future. If you have old fashioned car keys you might need an automotive rekey, too.

In the future, if you have to hand over your car key to someone then take it off the ring. Don’t hand that person the entire clump of keys–the one that contains your house key, your storage room key, your mail room key, your mother’s keys, and so forth. That mechanic doesn’t need any key other than the car key, so that’s the key you give them. Sure, it’s an inconvenience to take the key off the ring and put it back on, but having your belongings stolen is an even bigger inconvenience.

Consider upgrading your lock.

Certain high end keys won’t work with this app. You can consider getting one of those locks. You might even consider a keyless home entry system which allows you to enter a security code instead.

And while transponder keys definitely offer their share of problems they certainly won’t work with this app either. Consider upgrading to a car that uses them the next time you change vehicles.

Don’t use the app.

There are safer ways to make key copies. Can you imagine what will happen if a hacker manages to crack these apps? That hacker will have scanned key copies linked to physical addresses. Crooks will have a field day.

Remember, keys are safety and security devices. They should be treated as such, no matter how technology evolves.

If you live in Chicago or the surrounding areas and need a home rekey to stay safe, call us. We’re ready to help.

Will You Lock Your Keys in Your Car on Purpose?

Jaguar is unleashing a waterproof, shockproof wristband that will help people unlock their cars. Oddly, the wristband does not serve as a key in its own right.

Instead, the idea is you will hide your key fob in a special compartment at the back of the Jaguar, touch the bracelet to the compartment and open it to retrieve the key. Then you’ll hit the button on the key fob to open your car.

What could possibly go wrong?

When this thing works well it’s going to be awesome for surfers, swimmers, runners and other active people, as the article in Cars.com mentioned. However, when it doesn’t work you’ve basically created a situation where you’re going to need an automotive re-key. There won’t be any other way to get the panel in the back of that car open.

The bracelet could malfunction. Transponder technology actually malfunctions all the time. It seems like a lot of extra steps, too. If you’re going to rely on transponder technology, why not just go all the way and turn the bracelet itself into a car key?

Keep your Chicago locksmith on call.

Of course, there aren’t a lot of surfers in the Chicagoland area. There are a lot of highly active people, however. If you’re one of them you might love this idea, and we’re not saying you shouldn’t enjoy the technology. Nine times out of ten, it’s going to work out just fine.

But when something does go wrong you need to know who to call. After all, your car is just a fancy piece of metal if you can’t get inside and drive it.

Fortunately, Omega Locksmith is an expert at replacing transponder keys, smart keys, and more. We’ll be able to get you back in your vehicle, even if your high tech bracelet can’t!

Soon, You’ll be Able To Unlock Your Car with Your Phone

OmegaLocksmith

Mercedes has a new smart key option. Instead of carrying a key fob around you’ll be able to unlock your car with your smart phone, instead.

A UK car magazine ran the story, so it’s not clear whether these smart phone key options will be released in the US, or when that might happen. Sometimes seeing an early technology like this tells you everyone will be using them for every car in ten years, and sometimes these technologies just fall flat.

What are the advantages of smart phone transponder keys?

For starters, you’ll have a lot less to carry around, and you’ll reduce the chances that you’re going to lose your keys. After all, most of us are pretty attached to our phones.

In addition, these keys are supposed to work even when the phone is dead, which means you won’t have to worry so much if you run out of juice. This was almost a requirement of any smart phone solution–everyone’s had that situation where their phone goes out at the worst possible time.

What about the disadvantages?

Well…there are several.

First, you have to physically touch your phone to the car in order to get it started. Sure, this is a first world problem, but it almost defeats the purpose of having a smart key in the first place.

It also doesn’t work with iPhones. While we’re not phone enthusiasts per se, plenty of people have opted for iPhones over Androids. Options are nice, and right now the only option an iPhone user would have would be to go back to the same old transponder keys Mercedes has been using.

Then there’s the matter of finding a locksmith if something goes wrong. As long as the SIM card option can be replaced with a new transponder key at any time there’s no problem…we already have the technology to make it happen. However, if the SIM option will require us to have an entirely different set  of tools or poses unique compatibility issues there might be some lag time between the roll-out of this technology and the profession’s ability to catch up. This may mean bleeding edge Mercedes drivers may have no choice other than to turn to the dealership in most cities in the event their SIM key malfunctions or their phone is lost.

Either way, we’ll stay on top of it.

Of course, we won’t let this change catch us off guard…after all, you heard it here first. We’ll continue to keep an eye on the technology so we can make sure we’re always ready to serve our customers here in the Chicago metro area, no matter how they choose to activate their cars.