A lost car key means a lot of unwanted holiday hassle and a new Toyota survey* of 1,000 drivers shows that 40 percent never take a spare key on holiday, while 19 percent admit that they’ve misplaced or lost their car key while on a break.

Motorists spend millions of pounds replacing lost car keys every year and taking the car on holiday means increased potential for a key to get lost in the sand on the beach, misplaced in holiday accommodation, or buried somewhere in the luggage.  This August, traffic to Toyota’s key loss blog post is the highest it’s been since October 2018, perhaps because thousands of holidaymakers are driving to a UK staycation this summer.

Toyota has therefore put together the following tips to help prevent the keys being lost, with advice on what to do if the worst happens.

How to keep the car key safe on holiday

  1. “Have you got the car keys?” “No, I thought you had them!” Take two sets of car keys on holiday and make sure the same two people each look after a set. That way you can still get home if one set goes missing.
  2. At home we tend to keep our keys in the same place, but this routine can go out of the window when staying somewhere new. As soon as you arrive at your holiday destination, decide on somewhere safe to store the keys when you aren’t using them, out of immediate sight, and stick to it.
  3. If your car has keyless entry, don’t leave the key fob anywhere close to where you park the car, as it could give thieves an opportunity to use a device known as a ‘relay transmitter’ to remotely access the car.
  4. Use a large or brightly coloured key fob for the car keys – one so big and bright that you can’t miss it in a bag. Boating folk often use cork-based key fobs that float if accidentally dropped in the water.
  5. If your car has keyless entry and you can’t find the keys, take your bags, coats and luggage out to the car and if it opens, you’ll know the keys are somewhere in your belongings.
  6. Don’t attach car keys to children or animals. This might seem smart, but they could run off into the sea or undergrowth and ruin or lose them.
  7. Consider using a “find my keys” device, such as Toyota Tile Mate or TrackR. These are lightweight Bluetooth trackers that fix onto your key ring so you can quickly track down your keys via your phone. You can also tap on the device to locate a lost phone. Just don’t lose both your keys and your phone.

What to do if you’ve lost the car key

  1. If you’ve lost one of your car keys, your car dealership should be able to supply a new one relatively easily by examining the remaining key and organising for a new one to be ordered, cut and programmed. This usually takes one or two days, so if you are on holiday, guard the remaining key with your life and wait until you get home. To find your local Toyota dealer, click here: Find a Toyota Dealer
  2. It’s a trickier scenario if you’ve lost both sets of car keys. If your car has remote locking or other similar features, it will probably have a code that will need to be reprogrammed. This can be expensive, as strict controls govern the use of codes and manufacturers like Toyota must comply with regulatory standards. It’s also possible your car will need a new engine control unit (ECU). Losing all your keys can be a costly experience, because of the security technology each key contains, and the work involved in having a new set made. The cost will vary by model but will usually amount to several hundred pounds or even more. It will also usually take one or two days for the keys to be ordered, cut and programmed.
  3. If you are locked out of the car with no keys you may need to arrange for it to be recovered to a dealership, by your breakdown provider or insurer. Alternatively, many police forces recommend contacting a member of the Master Locksmiths Association. Toyota Car Insurance policies include key cover (vehicle, house and office) as one of many benefits for policy holders.
  4. Locking your car keys in the car is not such a common problem these days, as smart entry or keys with transponders make it much harder to do.However, if you do manage to lock your keys in the car, call your breakdown provider.