FAQ … frequently asked questions, and what we do at Keys4Classics.com
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 also from Japan, mostly 1960s-70s-80s-90s. We are also experienced with some US-badged classic automobiles that have foreign locks.
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 deal with most North American automobile or motorcycle makes.
We do not sell any automotive parts other than keys and keys services.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Here are 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).
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.
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.
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.
valet (garage attendant) keys
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…)
vs cut keys
OEM (original keys)
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.
usually brass or steel
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" (NOS), 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.
- 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)
- 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
"key to success"!
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 "PTFE" - or if that is not available, "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 not sticky and doesn't help dirt to stick inside the lock, but it is "old tech". 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 in emergencies. Any dirt that gets in the lock will stick there.
4. Products such as WD40 for "loosening", "de-rusting", "starting wet motors" etc are more solvents than lubricants. Yes they can be good for getting lock internals unstuck and moving, but once dried out (maybe after a few days) you should go back up this list and apply a lubricant.
We provide the highest quality keys and key services for classic mid-to-late 20th century vehicles
YOU NEVER NEED TO SEND US YOUR KEYS. WE WORK FROM EMAILED PHOTOS.
Important note: We do not deal with modern keys that use electronics (transponder keys),
which is most vehicles from about the late 1990s
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.
Keys4Classics.com is located in Canberra, the capital city of Australia.
Proudly helping classic car and motorcycle owners worldwide since 2001.