FAQ … frequently asked questions, and what we do at Keys4Classics.com

What we do…
Stacks Image 152
Cut/machine/mill automotive keys to original code with great precision, ready for you to use in your locks.

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

Specialize in keys for cars and motorcycles from all parts of Europe and from Japan (and US-badged cars with foreign locks) mostly 1960s-70s-80s-90s.
What don't we do…
Stacks Image 154
We do not deal with modern vehicle keys (year 2000+ and sometimes earlier) which have electronics, such as transponder keys, or remotes (fobs), and we are not involved in programming those keys or remotes.

We do not need you to send your keys, or locks, just a few good photos of existing keys should be fine. And we do not do locksmith work such as re-keying or repairing locks.

We do not sell any automotive parts other than keys and keys services.

We do not deal with many North American automobile or motorcycle makes, just a few special ones…
Key codes and cutting patterns
What is a key code?

Key and lock manufacturers compile a database of all the cutting sequences or patterns on their keys. Each sequence is allocated a "code" or group of numbers and/or letters to represent it.

The key code usually reveals the cutting sequence only if you have access to the code database. Less often the sequence IS the code, this is called a "direct code". Each number in the direct code shows the relative depth of each cut.
Key decoding from photos
This is the service that sets Keys4Classics apart. Using a combination of skill, experience, our own specially developed techniques and great key code references, we are masters at decoding most classic vehicle keys.

All keys with code series available to us 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.

Even if you have the codes you should send us key photos so we can verify the code against the key's cuts (there is no cost for this if your code is correct).
Decoding worn, broken or hand-made keys
Successful decoding depends on whether your 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. And maybe even be successful when a part of the key is missing or damaged.

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

After we have inspected your key photos we will confirm if it can be decoded.
Where are key codes located?
This is a big topic and suggestions for one make/model/year may not apply to another, see our individual vehicle pages for specific tips. Also, here are some universal suggestions.

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

Have you got a code-tag or card which came with the original keys? Or marked on a sticker or plate inside the glovebox, on or next to the steering column, etc.

Some locks have the code marked on them. Visibly on the front rim, or not so visible under the front face plate or surround plate, on the body of the lock or even inside the lock. Trunk and door locks are easier to access, but it's not an easy option for most vehicles.

For a marking on a lock to be an individual key code it will *not* be raised numbers/letters. That will be a moulded mark common to a whole batch of locks. The key code is usually stamped into the metal.

For more recent years, try an authorized dealer. Some makes keep a database, using 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 a few photos of your existing key (a fee applies). Decoding is available only as part of an order for cut keys.
Are key codes reliable? Will my new cut keys work?
Almost every time the answer is yes, if the code is from a good source.

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).
Keys cut to code vs trace-copied keys
From the key code we 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 kiosk) 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.
Our warranty
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.
Our pricing
The price of our keys depends on:

The key blank used - economy, regular, all-metal or black-head, premium, original-OEM.

Cutting - one edge or more? And difficult or hard-material keys cost more.

Decoding, if required - the fee depends on the complexity. Some decoding shows as zero cost (included in the cut keys price). Checking the code of your key with a code you already have is absolutely free, unless they do not match and decoding is required.

Quantity - we give a very good discount for multiple keys cut to the same code, or mixed keys cut to various codes, it depends on how many you want.
Master keys vs
valet (garage attendant) keys
A master key is *not* a key that will open lots of cars.

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, it became popular in the 1980s-90s. Before that they simply used entirely different keys for all or some of the ignition/doors/trunk/glovebox (that's why your 1960s classic has so many keys…)
Key blanks
vs cut keys

OEM (original keys)
vs aftermarket
Key blanks are keys not yet cut or milled to a specific lock. Once cut they are ready to use in your vehicle. Until they're cut they cannot operate any lock and present no security risk. Once cut you should keep the codes and a spare set of keys somewhere safe.

OEM = original equipment manufacturer, that is the maker who produced the keys and locks for the vehicle. This is usually a specialized contractor as Neiman, Huf, Ymos, SAFE, DOM. That brand may appear on the key and/or the vehicle maker's name or logo.

Aftermarket - most of our keys are made by and branded Silca-Italy, they're very high quality keys which generally appear similar to the originals, but have no vehicle name or logo.
Key materials:
usually brass or steel
Overall, we probably have more keys 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.

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 and excellent quality. Remember that only our original-OEM keys have the vehicle maker's name or logo.

Some keys are available either as "all-metal" or "black-head". The black head is molded onto the key, it's not slip-on. It's durable plastic, not rubber. It will resemble closely the original key's look and feel.
Brass keys
Advantages and disadvantages:
- softer material, easier for key cutters and locksmiths
- any key cutter can cut them, best for locksmiths when hand-making keys
- best choice for key blanks you will get cut in North America
- not as strong as steel: brass keys can break or twist more readily, worse in extreme cold climates or sticking locks
- common for most British and US locks
- gentler on lock internal parts, but brass that wears off the key will accumulate in the lock
- keys wear faster (so locks wear slower)
Steel keys
Advantages and disadvantages:
- harder material, not suitable for locksmiths to hand-make keys, and not all key cutters will cut them, especially in North America
- very strong: keys are difficult to break or twist, best in extreme cold climates or sticking locks
- common for European cars and motorcycle locks, and usually more original for them
- not so gentle on lock internal parts but should not cause problems for any lock that's kept clean and lubricated
- for classic vehicles used occasionally, wear is probably negligible even with steel keys
Lock lubrication
is the
"key to success"!
Cleaning and lubrication are the essential prerequisites for a well-functioning lock.

Locks contain many small moving parts and over the long life of a classic vehicle how often have they been lubricated? (maybe never).

These lubricants are widely available (most hardware stores) and their small cost will return great rewards:

1. Modern lubricants especially "dry PTFE" and "dry silicone" sprays. Both are excellent for most uses. Apply liberally. Best for difficult locks - you can use lots if the lock needs it.

2. 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 graphite, it accumulates and it's dirty. Buy a small tube and insert a small number of puffs.

3. Oil should be used only if no better lubricant is available except in locks that are gummed-up with dried grease. Oil can be helpful as a "quick fix" to soften the grease and allow the lock parts to move more freely.


KEYS4CLASSICS.COM (KEYSFORCLASSICS.COM)
We provide the highest quality keys and key services for classic mid-to-late 20th century vehicles.

LOCATED IN CANBERRA, THE CAPITAL CITY OF AUSTRALIA
servicing classics owners worldwide (well, almost) since 2001

Important note: We do not deal with modern keys that use electronics (transponder keys),
which is most vehicles from about the year 2000 (and some earlier),
and at this time we do not work with locks, such as re-keying or repairs.
For these requirements please search for a competent automotive locksmith in your area.
Also, we do not supply general automotive parts. We are simply experts with keys for older vehicles.
YOU NEVER NEED TO SEND US YOUR KEYS. WE WORK FROM EMAILED PHOTOS.