People "lose" their car keys an average of about once a month, but in most instances they find them quickly. Actual lost car keys are rarer, but if you've ever lost your car keys for real, you know that sinking feeling you get, particularly if you're out somewhere and want to get home.

Calling an automotive locksmith is a better bet than contacting your car dealer in the vast majority of cases, because they charge far less for making a car key replacement. If you're out in Lincoln Park or downtown Chicago, you need a Chicago locksmith who is professional, dependable, efficient, and fair. The best thing to do is find a good automotive locksmith well before you ever need one and have the number programmed into your phone so you're not stuck with doing a "blind" 411 search with your phone if you lose your keys.

Many people are under the impression that they have to call their automotive dealer for replacement keys if they have transponder keys, but that's only the case in a tiny fraction of exceptional cases. Whether it's lost Lexus keys or lost Ford transponder keys, properly equipped and trained automotive locksmiths can replace them, and they usually do it for far less than your car dealer.

Transponder keys contain a chip that handles data using radio frequency transmissions. When you insert and turn your transponder key in the ignition, it sends a unique signal to the on-board computer system. When the computer recognizes the signal as valid, it allows the vehicle to start. A cloneable key can replace some automotive transponder keys if an appropriate transponder cloning key is used. Once the transponder blank has been properly cloned, the chip mimics the original transponder with the unique signal transmitted to the on-board computer, allowing the car to start.

Replacing transponder keys requires specialized software to reprogram a transponder blank to work with your particular car. It doesn't take long, but not just any locksmith can do it. Rather, he must have the proper software, hardware, and transponder blanks. That's why you need to scope out automotive locksmith services before you're stuck somewhere without your keys.

In fact, it's a good idea to go ahead and get a set of replacement car keys even if you don't need them. You can store them in a safe place or with a trusted individual for emergencies. Doing this will also give you some good information about the locksmith you choose: was the service courteous and professional? Did you pay a fair price? Are you satisfied with your replacement keys? If you find an automotive locksmith you are happy with, give the number to your loved ones or program it into their phones. You could save them the hassle of finding a locksmith should they ever find themselves in need.

You don't have to panic if you find yourself out somewhere and lose your car keys. Today's properly qualified locksmiths understand your situation and are uniquely situated to help. And if you have the name of a good locksmith ready before you need one, you will be under far less stress if you discover one day that you've lost your keys.