There you are this morning using the spare set of keys because someone stole yours yesterday while you were shopping. They stole them out of your purse right beside you on the counter. Then you had to call your husband to drive 15 miles downtown and bring his set of keys so you could drive the car home.
Now what? Now you have to worry about some car thief targeting your car because he has a set of keys that will allow him to start it up and drive off. He may have even followed you home so he would know where the car is usually parked. You can also hope that your car is all that they want.
Ok, so what do I do now? Just a reminder, if someone wants to steal your car, he or she can usually find a way to do it. What you have to do is make it harder for him to steal so he or she will go on to the next person’s car, which may be more vulnerable than yours may.
Nevertheless, for now, go to your car dealer, the one for your type of vehicle. They can get you a new set of keys and have you driving off in no time. You have two basic choices; either get a new set of keys with new chips that have to be re-sequenced with your car’s computer, or get both the keys and new barrels as well. Barrels are part of the locking mechanism, where you insert your key. Be prepared, because this can be quite expensive.
Car manufacturers and insurance companies have worked hard to create ways to prevent cars from being stolen. One tally indicates the annual cost of insurance claims for stolen vehicles in the USA alone has climbed to 14 Billion dollars.
The latest technology for vehicles is a product of the computer age. Almost all cars today are equipped with onboard computers. These computers perform a myriad of tasks allowing them to enhance your car’s performance and fuel economy.
At the time of manufacture, each set of keys is equipped with a chip containing a numerical code up to 32 characters long. This allows billions of possible numeric combinations, so your set of keys has its own unique identity for your vehicle alone.
In addition, at the time of manufacture, this code is matched to your vehicle’s computer, and the identification number (VIN for short) is stamped on the dash so it can be easily read through the windshield.
When you insert your key into the car’s ignition slot and turn the key to the on position, a signal goes out to the chip in your unique key(s) and “pings” the chip. The computer receives a signal back that tells it this is the correct set of keys that should be allowed to start and drive this vehicle. Once this has occurred, your car’s engine will start, and you are on your way. Electronically, this happens almost instantaneously, so you are unaware of the matching sequence that is taking place.
Remember how easy it is for you now to get your car’s VIN? Well, unfortunately, it is also easy for a thief posing as a car’s owner to just read your VIN off your car, go to a dealer or locksmith, and have a key made which will start your car.
About the only way this can be prevented is to keep a piece of paper or cardboard over the VIN on the inside of your dash so no one can read it while your car is locked and you are away. Also, keep your car keys in a safe place with you while you are away from the car.
Keep your car insured against car theft, with our site you will get the rates of several insurance companies, with the ease of free quotes and simplified purchasing of coverage while online. The coverage for this is called Comprehensive.
— Michelle Megna contributed to this story.