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

The INQUIRY PAGE is the best way to contact us if you are interested in our keys-cut-to-code service.

What we do…
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Cut/machine/mill new 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 a few emailed photos.

Specialize in keys for cars and motorcycles mostly 1960s-70s-80s-90s from all parts of Europe (especially Germany, Italy, and Great Britain) and also from Japan.
What don't we do…
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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. Keep your keys safe! We just need good photos, not the keys.

We do not deal with most North American automobile or motorcycle makes, maybe except when foreign locks were fitted.

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

Codes can vary widely, but most automotive key codes are quite brief, either numbers alone or a letter or two and a short number.

If you know the key type and have a key code then new keys can be produced, identical to the original key specifications. So even 30, 40, 50 or more years after the original keys were manufactured you will have an accurate, perfect new key.
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 the code you provided 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, but 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 near the steering column, etc.

Some locks have the code marked on them. Visibly on the front face (older classics), 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.

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).
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 service 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 vehicles.

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 or earlier 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 such 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.

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.
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 "PTFE" - sometimes marketed as "lock lube" - or if that is not available, "dry silicone" sprays 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's a solid and accumulates in the lock - 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 apply a recommended lubricant.

We provide the highest quality keys and key services for classic mid-to-late 20th century vehicles


Important note: We do not deal with modern keys that use electronics (transponder keys), which is most vehicles from about the late 1990s.

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 working with classic car and motorcycle owners worldwide since 2001…!