The moment you realize your keys are not merely misplaced but actually properly lost is a sickening feeling. You’ve looked everywhere, you’ve asked mommy, and when she can’t find them, you know they’re gone.
If your car is fitted with a key-less entry key fob aka smart key, the most likely place to find your key fob is inside the car. To find car keys, follow these four steps:
- Take a moment to calmly reflect
- Retrace your steps
- Search systematically
- Begin to tidy and clean the search area
In this post, you’ll learn how to find your car keys in the shortest time possible. I’ll share a weird family hack that never fails and I’ll also show you a few simple ways to prevent this from ever happening again.
1 Calmly Reflect
No sense in getting into a fuss, sure you’ll likely be late, but you’ve got a good excuse, right? Losing your car keys at home is a ton easier to solve than losing your keys in say a restaurant, plane, or stadium. Your home is a controlled environment and they will be exactly where you left them.
In public, your keys will likely be found pretty quickly and either surrendered to management or taken off-site, never to be seen again.
That said, wherever you’ve lost your car keys, you’ll need to remain calm. You’ll need to be in control of the memory box because we’ll need to probe deeply.
Try this before running around searching aimlessly. Remember in as much detail as possible, the very last time you seen or felt your car keys.
- What time was it?
- Where were you exactly?
- What was the weather like?
- What clothes were you wearing?
- Who did you speak to?
- What did you speak about?
- What were you preoccupied with?
- Can you picture your keys, and where do you picture them?
Answering these and any other questions you feel relevant will help transport you to that moment. The more vividly you imagine these details the more successful you’ll be.
2 Retrace Your Steps
Now it’s time to start looking, not searching, looking. Moving items may cause the keys to be further concealed. Doing what I call the walk around, gazing from a distance to see if you can spot the keys. Check all flat surfaces along your route, when preoccupied we’ll often drop keys where physically convenient. Having retraced your steps and still no keys, we move to step 3.
3 Search Systematically
Now we’ll search but we’ll do so systematically. Begin at the beginning, if you usually drop your keys on the table by the front door, we’ll start there. This is the searching phase, so roll up the sleeves, we’ll be moving furniture, etc.
4 Begin To Tidy & Clean
I lose stuff in the workshop all the time, small items, tools, precision parts like springs and needles. When these items go missing, I start to clean the workshop. I’ve been through the meat grinder enough times to know that searching might work, but tidying up my work area nearly always does and you have a tidy workstation.
How I lose my keys
In our house like many homes, we say lost, but they’re not really lost, only misplaced. When I misplace keys it’s usually because I’m preoccupied, my routine is broken. But I’ve found although preoccupied, our minds are still logical.
I sometimes park my car at the rear of my home and come in through the utility room, this is not my usual routine and if I add a phone call to the mix, car keys often become misplaced. I employ a simple strategy here, retrace my steps and look for available flat surfaces that can easily accommodate car keys.
I’ve found my keys on utility worktops, ironing boards, recycling bins, utility bench seats all have one thing in common, can easily accommodate car keys if dropped abruptly. So check those flat surfaces first.
Common Places Car Keys Are Lost
Here’s a list of the most common places car keys are misplaced or lost.
If your car is fitted with a key-less smart key, the most likely place to find the key is inside the car. Common places to misplace keys include:
- Still in the car
- Left in the trunk
- Left on the car roof
- In yesterdays clothes
- Yesterdays clothes in the laundry machine
- Between cinema seats
- On restaurant table
- Wardrobe floor
- Left on aircraft
- Left in Hotel room
- Left them in Holiday let
Tony, Tony Turn Around
Here’s my family hack for lost things, not just keys, and works for us. I come from a Christian home and this is a prayer to St Anthony, patron saint of lost things. If you’ve looked everywhere this can’t hurt, right? This is a favorite in our house, but we use the shortened version, which St Anthony apparently doesn’t have a problem with.
If you are a Christian, or not, give it a try, my Mum swears by it, and who’s mum is ever wrong. Here’s the short version:
Tony, Tony turn around, somethings lost and must be found.
How To Never Lose Your Car Keys
Here are my best tips for never being in a bind with keys ever again.
- Split your home keys from your car keys, you’ll be very unlucky to lose both at once.
- Buy a key tracker key-ring and down load the app – Latest tech, this easy to use kit simply tracks the GPS location of the key ring with key attached.
- Fit a key finder audible alarm – This is an old solution but still pretty useful when it’s within range.
- Hide a spare key in a safe hiding place – This too is an old idea, but a great solution for some. May not suit some modern cars with more moisture sensitive key-less entry key fobs.
None Of This Helped
OK, we’re going to need to call a specialist key programmer or your local main dealer. Car keys come in three basic flavors:
- Basic metal blade key – Fitted to classic cars older than 1980
- Transponder key – Metal key with integrated security chip which your car must read and accept before starting. Fitted from the 1980’s to present.
- Key-less entry fob or Smart key – No visible key and no ignition switch, key just needs to be within range of the receiver. Fitted to higher end cars in the last 5 years.
Keys 2 and 3 will need to be programmed so that your car’s receiver accepts their code and allows the engine to start. The new keys may be programmed with the same code as your lost keys, however, if those keys were stolen or you fear they may turn up in the wrong hands, a new code is advised.
Reprogramming disables the lost set and so if found won’t work.
What You’ll Need To Get New Keys
A licensed locksmith will work a ton faster than the local dealer. Gather together the following information before calling them. The details they’ll need include:
- Car make
- Year of car
- VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) – Found on a plate viewed on windshield, under hood, inside door shut or on title docs.
- Title Documents
- Key number – Often included inside the drivers manual, they can still make it happen without it, don’t sweat it.
Were car keys stolen? Ring the police and report the matter. Call your insurance company and report them stolen. Most car insurance policies cover the cost of lost keys. The insurance company will usually also organize a locksmith call out as soon as possible.
- About the Author
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.