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When you end up locked out of cars, it’s easy to feel helpless and begin to panic. But panic doesn’t tend to lead to rational decisions, and the best thing to do is keep calm and start considering which locksmith you’re going to call.

Of course, there are likely anywhere between eight and several hundred locksmiths in your area, depending on where you live. Consequently, choosing among them can be a slightly tricky task. However, if you familiarize yourself with that to look for in an automotive locksmith, you can avoid a negative experience and get back on the road more quickly.

Check out these tips for hiring automotive locksmiths to find the fastest, highest-quality, and most affordable service option in your area.

Things to Consider When Hiring Automotive Locksmiths

There are several essential aspects to consider before committing to a locksmith. Affordability, convenience, and reputation are only a few of the things that influence the decision-making process.

1. Price

The cost of a locksmith’s services can limit which services are accessible, but inflated prices can also be a sign of a scam or uncertified locksmith service. To give you an idea of what to expect when calling for a locksmith service, it’s vital to understand what factors can inflate the final cost.

Distance is perhaps one of the most influential factors, and time follows closely behind. The distance that a locksmith must travel to make it to your location, and the time spent performing a service, all contribute to the final price. Depth of service is the last primary consideration, as unlocking services typically cost less than rekeying services and require less time. 

The standard hourly rate for an automotive locksmith can range between $50 and $100 an hour, though these prices triple for after-hours emergency services. Unlocking services typically top-out at $100, while re-keying services usually cost between $50 and $300.

Still, these prices are far lower than the standard cost of visiting a dealership for replacement keys! 

2. Capability

Every model, make, and year of every vehicle is slightly different, and each requires a unique entry solution. Also, every lockout situation is unique, and not all occur during standard business times. Consequently, the ideal locksmith service provides 24/7 emergency service and can manufacture a replacement key or key fob for nearly any make or model of vehicle.

Also, some locksmiths offer car unlocking services and key replacements, while others only provide replacements. The cost of a vehicle unlock is almost always less than that of having a replacement key made, and it’s typically far faster as well. However, some cars cannot be unlocked without a replacement key or key fob.

When contacting a locksmith, it’s crucial to ask them if they can service your make and model of car. Still, most reputable locksmiths will ask for that information, and your current location, before they even ask for your name. Just remember—a locksmith that works with different car models is likely to be more experienced than those that only handle one type of vehicle!

3. Reviews

Reading reviews before contacting a locksmith can help you save time and money. Creating an exclusive, curated list of candidates is easy to do when you’re browsing through reviews on a smartphone, tablet, or home computer. Most search engines will allow you to filter search results based on reviews, prices, and locations.

It’s important to remember to read as many reviews as possible. If you’re limited on time, try to read at least one positive, neutral, and negative criticism for each company or locksmithing service on your list of candidates. Within minutes, you can quickly and easily come up with a list of five or more stellar possibilities.

If possible, also be sure to take note of the reoccurring pros and cons for each locksmith. Doing so will help to keep you informed and prepared.

4. Coupons

Many locksmithing companies offer coupons for services, including automotive lockouts. Some coupons may require you to sign onto your social media accounts or promote the company beforehand, and the resulting discount could halve your final price estimate.

Searching for your preferred locksmith company’s website and looking for coupons or deals is a fantastic way to secure savings. If there is no website associated with the locksmith, you may want to be wary. Yet, you can also choose to call and inquire over the phone about potential coupons.

Online coupon services may also be an excellent resource for locksmithing coupons. Most curious individuals can secure service at 50%-90% off the original price. Still, it’s essential to read the fine print when relying on a coupon, as some services, times, and locations may be excluded from the deal.

Another to look for is a referral system. Some companies rely on this system to garner positive press and attract potential clients. If your preferred locksmith participates in such a system, and rewards referrals from clients, you can also end up saving money on potential, future lockout situations.

5. Location

Location is a vital aspect to consider when choosing a locksmith. Companies that are based far away from your current position may charge exorbitant prices to drive out to you. However, companies with multiple locksmith locations are a safe bet.

Some locksmiths will list their base prices and price per mile traveled on their website, but most will reveal this information only when contacted. In certain situations, location can be a restrictive factor. In small towns or rural areas, there may be only a handful of available locksmiths, and they may all be quite a long way away.

In these situations, it’s best to disregard this factor and instead focus on the others. While you are likely to end up paying more than if you were in a heavily populated city, there’s no real way to avoid this. Of course, some auto membership clubs do include mobile locksmithing services within their annual fees for service, though there are likely to be certain conditions and restrictions.

6. Efficiency

One of the most crucial questions to ask when considering a service is, “How long will this service take from start to finish?” A locksmith’s efficiency should be investigated, either by reading reviews or by asking the locksmith. A combination of both tactics tends to produce the best results.

Most unlocking services can take anywhere between five and thirty minutes after the technician has arrived. However, it’s important to remember than even the highest-quality mobile locksmiths may take between twenty minutes and an hour to reach you.

Re-keying requires more time, as the locksmith must research the proper key type for the make and model of your car and then physically create it. Many mobile locksmiths have portable key-making equipment just for this purpose! However, some types of keys require more technology to create and may require a full 24 hours.

7. Experience

Experience can easily be mistaken for time, but the two are not the same. After all, a person who has only been in business for a year or two, but who uses the most updated and modern locksmithing equipment and techniques, might be more experienced than someone who has been unlocking cars for a decade with outdated tools.

While contacting a potential locksmith, feel free to ask them about their equipment and unlocking methods. Wedges, decoders and try-out keys do far less damage than metal, hook-like tools. Also, some mobile locksmiths can make replacement keys from the comfort of their vehicle or van, thanks to portable key-making equipment, laptops, and schematics.

If your prospective technician avoids answering questions regarding their equipment or methods, it’s best to move on to a different option. Automotive locksmiths that avoid answering questions about their experience and techniques tend to be disreputable and untrustworthy characters.

8. Certification

Ensuring that your preferred locksmith is certified is incredibly essential. The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) offers certification to locksmiths that can demonstrate extensive locksmith knowledge and correct safety techniques. The only reason why a locksmith wouldn’t have this certification is if they are hoping to work illegally in some fashion.

Choosing a certified locksmith technician can protect you and your valuable from the possibility of theft. It can also help you avoid unexpected fees and charges before, during, or after service. Certified locksmiths are held completely accountable for their work, and any complaints that clients have against them are seriously studied, considered, and handled by the ALOA.

9. Key Types

Different types of vehicles require different types of keys, and not all cars have standard keys. Key fobs are becoming increasingly prevalent, and some locksmithing companies have struggled to keep up with technology. A keyless entry system replacement key fob is typically only available from the most up-to-date, experienced, and trustworthy locksmithing companies.

The least expensive replacement keys tend to be simple, metal ignition keys without plastic or rubber components. A ‘true’ replacement key with locking mechanisms can be ordered from a dealership but is likely to cost far more. Still, most automotive locksmiths can fashion electronic replacement keys within a few hours or a day at the most.

Keyless entry key fobs require the most time to replace and tend to be the most expensive option. Still, some key fobs can be replaced for as little as $50—but the more expensive brands can cost up to $400! Before agreeing to a replacement service, be sure to receive a price quote of the estimated final cost.

10. Transparency

If your preferred locksmith declines to disclose a full price estimate, you may want to reconsider your choice. As with nearly any profession that allows an individual entry into a home or vehicle, there is a high incidence of locksmith fraud and scamming. Improving your car’s security could be as simple as choosing the right person to replace your key or unlock your car.

Checking certification, and asking about it is a part of this process as well. The best, most reliable, and most affordable automotive locksmiths don’t have to worry about being completely honest and transparent with their clients. Their service speaks for itself, so they do not charge insane prices for their work.

While contacting a potential locksmith, if you feel that they have avoided answering any question you have, or not provided a sufficient-enough answer, it’s always best to keep looking. Many scam artists may attempt to pressure you into accepting overpriced services quickly, but a dependable locksmith will allow you to take your time and think over their offer before committing to any services.

Contact A Trustworthy Locksmith Today For Assistance

Don’t allow yourself to give in to feelings of panic when you realize that your keys are locked inside of your trunk or your car interior. There are professional automotive locksmiths, mostly within a few miles of your location, who can drive out to you and unlock your car manually, or create a replacement key within an hour or less.

Hiring automotive locksmiths requires a little investigation and forward-thinking, but it’s a relatively simple process. Prices for services are bound to vary from company to company and area to area, and it’s always wise to check for coupons before committing to a service or payment.

The range of services and key types is also an important consideration, especially with keyless cars. And companies that offer price estimates or quotes should take precedence over those that don’t, as transparency is a massively valuable factor to consider when choosing a locksmith. 

If you need an automotive locksmith service, reach out for a free quote today!