Study Finds That Motorists Spend £180m on Replacing Lost Car Keys

A new study from RAC has found that drivers in the UK spend £180m on replacing lost car keys. Millions of drivers waste hours hunting for lost keys each year, and those that fail to find them spent a fortune on replacing them.

Women are more likely to lose their keys, but men are more likely to lock them in the car. When keys are locked inside of the vehicle, drivers often need to call a locksmith to retrieve them.

“It isn’t difficult for professionals to get your keys out, but it may be detrimental for you to get everything out yourself,” says Tonys Locksmith, based in Cardiff. “Many people end up destroying their locks, their doors, or other aspects of the car by getting too aggressive and not understanding the dynamics of the car.”

Among the drivers who have locked their keys in their cars, 31% said they called a breakdown service. About 32% said they used a spare key, 20% managed to use other tactics to open the door, 3% called a locksmith and 3% (about 300,000) smashed the window.

RAC’s survey, which quizzed 2,000 motorists, found that 43% of drivers – about 16 million – forget where they’ve put their keys on a regular basis. On average, forgetful drivers spend 2 minutes 10 seconds a day looking for their keys. That equates to more than half a day per year.

About 1 in 20 drivers, or 2 million, say they’ve lost their keys for good. Among these drivers, 39% relied on spare keys and 54% purchased a replacement. That equates to about £180m, with the average key costing £176 to replace.

Pete Williams, RAC spokesman, said, “With today’s sophisticated keys, including transponders and remote devices, a replacement key can cost up to £500 – a not insignificant sum.”

A third of couples said their partner’s forgetfulness or constant hunting for keys has caused numerous arguments. RAC offers Key Replace insurance as optional coverage for their breakdown customers. It offers protection against accidental damage to or the loss of car keys. It also covers the cost of calling a locksmith, replacing locks, and reprogramming keys.

It is also possible to order programmable keys online for about a third of the price the dealership charges. Many online retailers sell keys at discount rates, but they may require programming.

In 2017, RAC said they had 57,000 members have key-related issues, including faulty locks and lock-outs.

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Melissa Thompson

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.