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FAQ (frequently asked questions) and the quick guide to Keys4Classics.com... our keys and our specialist key services
What do we do at Keys4Classics.com?

1. Cut/machine/mill keys to original code with great precision, ready for you to use in your locks.

2. Where key codes are not known we can decode most keys from an emailed photo.

3. Supply uncut key blanks.

4. Specialize in those cars and motorcycles which US owners call "foreign", that is from all parts of Europe and from Japan, etc, and US-badged cars with foreign locks.

What don't we do?

We do not deal with any electronics, such as programming transponder keys, or remotes.

I do not have any keys and want to order some

If you provide us with your key codes we can cut new keys that will operate your locks (if the codes you provide are correct for the locks).

For suggestions about how to obtain your key codes see Where to I find my key code?

If you do not have your key codes (and no keys at all) we cannot help you with cut keys, we can only supply uncut key blanks. You will need a locksmith to work on the locks to make keys, or you will have to replace the locks with new ones that come with their own keys.

We can create new keys for locks sent to us, but be aware that we are in Australia and shipping and insurance to- and from- our workshop may add considerably to the cost.

I have an original key and want a copy made

For most makes and models we have a replacement key that resembles your original, however our keys do not have the original vehicle manufacturer's name or logo, unless specified.

We cut new keys to original factory specifications on the latest high-tech computerized machines.

Very likely we can decode your key from an emailed digital photo (or a good scan) of the key. A small fee applies in addition to an order for cut keys.

What is a key blank?

A key before it is cut or milled to a specific lock code. The blank is ready to be cut, and of no practical use until it is cut.

What is an original, genuine or OEM key?

The key that came with your vehicle when new, or an exact replacement of it. For many older vehicles original key brands (such as Neiman or Ymos or Huf) are not generally available. For more recent years original branded keys may be available from dealers. Mostly we do not stock or supply original keys. (OEM = original equipment manufacturer).

What is an aftermarket key?

A key of another brand that, if chosen correctly, will fit your lock but may or may not resemble the original in cosmetic appearance.

Unless otherwise stated our keys are aftermarket keys. We choose them very carefully for quality of manufacture and closeness to the original. Our preferred brands are Silca of Italy, Orion of Italy and JMA of Spain. On occasion we supply other brands including Ilco and DL of North America. In all instances we will supply the best keys we can find for the application.

What materials are your keys made of?

Mostly steel or brass. Overall, we probably have more made of steel than brass. Some of our keys are available in a choice of brass or steel, sometimes it's only one or the other with no choice. See here for an explanation of the pros and cons of each material.

Generally high security (wave-cut and dimple keys) are made of soft material such as brass or nickel-silver.

All our keys, unless hard-to-get "new-old stock", are recently-manufactured of high grade materials with a bright nickel finish.

Some keys are available either as "all-metal" or "plastic-head". The plastic head is usually black and molded on to the key, it's not a slip-on type of head. Our key heads are not made of rubber (plastic is much more durable).

What is a master key? What is a Valet or Garage Attendant key?

A master key is *not* a key that will open anyone else's car. It's a key that will operate all the locks on the one car, as opposed to a valet or garage-attendant key that will open the door and start the engine, but *not* open the vehicle's glovebox or trunk.

Only some cars have a valet key option.

Why is it important to lubricate locks?

Locks contain many moving parts and they need lubrication to work well. Modern lubricants include "dry" PTFE and "dry" silicone. Both are excellent for most uses. Apply liberally. Powdered graphite is good if the lock is clean inside. Unlike oil, graphite is not sticky and doesn't help dirt to stick inside the lock, but don't overuse it. You can buy a small tube of powdered graphite at most hardware stores. Oil should be used only if no better lubricant is available.

What is a cut-to-code key?

Each key is an individual with its own pattern of cuts specific to the lock it is designed to operate. The key code is a shorthand way of describing that cut pattern, so that any locksmith or key cutter with the appropriate code series information can cut new keys without needing an existing key.

How does cutting to code compare with copying, duplicating or tracing a key?

From the key code we can produce a new key that has the original factory specifications for the pattern of its cuts. In other words, it takes you back to a new key with no wear and no imperfections.

Copying a key (such as at a shopping mall key cutter) involves tracing your existing key on to a new blank. A good operator will produce a good copy but a sloppy operator, or worn/cheap machinery etc, will produce a poor copy.

Even a good copy will never be as good as an original key was when new. Wear is copied. Imperfections are copied. And each 'generation' of copying produces a worse key. The widespread use of brass aftermarket keys also ensures that copied keys wear fast and become unsuitable to act as patterns for making further copies.

A code-cut key that's kept in a safe place will still be perfect for many years to come as a pattern for making duplicated copies.

Where do I find my key code?

 

 

for more detail see
Code-Cut Keys

This is a big topic and suggestions for one make/model/year may not apply to another. However here are some universal suggestions-

I you have an original owner's manual or other documents look for a notation, often hand-written, of the key codes. Sometimes the original dealer or owner noted key codes there.

A code-tag or card often came with the original keys, but unfortunately they are not often retained with the vehicle documents, which would be really useful.

Some locks have the code stamped on them. Visibly on the front rim, or not so visible under the front face plate or surround plate, or on the body of the lock... the location varies. Door locks are easier to access to have a look, but it's not an easy option for most vehicles, and often the code is not there.

For more recent years, try an authorized dealer. Some makes keep a database so by telling them your VIN or chassis number the dealer can tell you your key code. For older British classic cars, and some others, there are archives that can help (for a fee).

Finally there is our own decoding service. We can decode most keys from an emailed photo of your existing key (a small fee applies). Decoding is available only in conjuction with an order for code-cut keys.

How do you decode or "read" keys from an emailed photo?

By a combination of skill, experience, our own techniques, and good key code references. All keys with code series available to the key cutting industry have a known geometry of the number of cuts and their spacing along the key, and the depth of each cut. With that knowledge we interpret a key and deduce its original specifications.

Can you decode a worn or broken key?

That depends on whether the key is an original or a copy (or a copy of a copy...), and how worn it is. For a broken key, as long as all the pieces can be included in a photo, we can probably resurrect its key code.

Can you decode a hand-made key?

A hand-made key (filed or cut by hand to fit a lock) is more a work of "art" than "science" and is not always able to be decoded within a reasonable time (or at a reasonable cost).

I have my key code, will it be correct (and will a key cut to that code operate my locks?)

99% of the time the answer is yes.

Before cutting keys we ensure that the code you provide to us is valid for the key type, make, model and year. However we cannot say 100% that it is correct for your lock without seeing a photo of an existing key that works well in the locks.

Some reasons why key codes may not be correct: locks have been replaced or re-keyed; dealer records are incorrect; handwriting or stamped numbers cannot be read clearly; etc.

A photo of an existing key is the only sure way for us to know that a key code is correct for that key. If the key in your photo works your locks, then our keys will also (that's our money-back guarantee).

What is our Warranty for cut keys?

1. Keys cut to a key code that you provide are guaranteed to be correct to that code (we are both relying on the code to be correct).

2. Keys cut to a key code that you provide, and checked against a photo that you send us (*there is no fee for checking*) are fully guaranteed to work in your locks

3. Keys cut to a code which we derive by decoding your key from a photo (*a fee may apply for decoding*) are fully guaranteed to work in your locks.


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