At Barker’s Lock Service in Apex, NC, I get numerous calls on a daily basis asking if I can make a key for __________ (fill in the blank with your year, make, & model of vehicle).
Overwhelmingly the answer is YES, I can make a key for your vehicle. I can usually make a key for less money, faster, without having to call a tow truck, or wait for hours at the dealer.
With that said, at Barker’s Lock Service, I always evaluate each and every call with the customer’s best interest placed first and foremost.
There are occasions however, that I will recommend ordering a key for your vehicle from a different source, often your local dealer. I will do this if I determine that it will be in YOUR best interest. It isn’t often but SOMETIMES this is the better option. If it is, I will advise you to do so, without hesitation.
I’ll share with you two seemingly similar calls I received involving two similar BMW vehicles, both with lost keys but required two very different solutions in order to serve the customer best.
The first vehicle was a 1997 BMW 525i. All keys had been lost. After my usual preliminary question and answer session I determined that the customer didn’t require immediate assistance. They were able to wait a few days for a key. They were the original owners and only ever had the three keys that the vehicle was delivered with when new.
I advised them to go to their dealership with driver’s license and vehicle registration in hand and order a key for their vehicle by the VIN. The customer would receive a new factory produced key at a lesser cost than what it would cost for me to make one for them.
The BMW factory keeps all vehicle records by the VIN, including the key cutting and programming information. They merely look up the vehicle’s cutting and programming specifications, produce a key, and ship it to the dealership where it arrives in a few days and is ready to start the car.
Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury and BMW doesn’t release that information to independent service providers such as myself. Therefore it requires much more time and expense on my part to generate a key for these vehicles, which translates into a more costly key for the customer.
Vehicle number two was a 1995 BMW 525i. This vehicle had been through several owners and the current owner had lost the only key they ever had.
Again, we went through the preliminary Q & A session. The customer advised me that they had called the dealership first and they were told by the dealership that the maximum number of ten keys had already been previously ordered for the car.
With this particular BMW system, the maximum number of keys that can be ordered for the life of the vehicle is a total of ten. Three keys come with the vehicle when new. That leaves seven keys that the owner can order after that. At that point, the only solution to obtain new keys through the dealership is to install new electronic modules, replace all the locks, and start with new keys.
This will cost the customer several thousand dollars, just to get keys for their vehicle. Often the price quoted would render the vehicle essentially totaled by insurance industry standards.
BUT that is only the factory solution. As a locksmith in the Raleigh, Cary, RTP area, Barker’s Lock Service based in Apex, NC, on the other hand, has a more amicable solution to this problem. I will generate a mechanical key first, then remove the immobilizer module, read the data written to the microprocessor containing the key programming information, delete any or all keys that have been used and program new keys for a fraction of the dealer quoted price to accomplish the same task.
I am here to serve you, the customer. If it means that I don’t earn your money this time, I am perfectly fine with that. I am counting on you to remember who advised you to do what best served you in that particular situation, at that time.
My philosophy is this. When I advise you of your best option, even if that means I’m sending you elsewhere, you will have no doubt that I am completely forthcoming with you. That means now or in the future.
I’ve been in the locksmith business for over 35 years. I started my own business in 1987. I was the very first locksmith in North Carolina to earn the Certified Automotive Locksmith or CAL designation. I am still only one of two in the entire state, and I’m the only one in this area!
I realize that I’m not the guy you want to have to talk to on a daily basis. At the same time, I also want you to know that you can call and ask for automotive locksmith advice and that you will get the best answer possible from Barker’s Lock Service.
If you are in the Raleigh or Wake County area, I encourage those with an automotive lock or key problem to pick up the phone and call me first. Please feel free to ask what your best option is for your particular situation. You will always receive a straight answer.
Thank you for your time. It is my desire to help you educate yourself in an effort to make decisions that reflect your best interests.
Jay Barker, CAL