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Keys and Keychains - A Locksmith's Position

Discussion in 'Keychain Tools' started by mightywombat, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. mightywombat

    mightywombat Loaded Pockets

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    I have seen a lot of stuff about car keys on the forum lately, and it has got me up on my high horse about a few key things.

    Let me preface this by saying that I worked as a locksmith for the last three years, and for two years before that I worked for a company that unlocks peoples' cars when they've locked themselves out. I have seen a lot of peoples' keys, and here is something that is nearly universal. People seem to see the little split ring on the remote for their vehicle and assume that it's there to keep their car key on.

    When you lock yourself out of your home or vehicle you are experiencing a "two is one, one is none" episode. The trick is this: Your remote and your key are both the same tool - a tool for unlocking your vehicle. When you tie your vehicle key to your remote fob you are essentially making two tools into one meaning that when you lose access to that one tool you go from one to none.

    Here is what I suggest:

    First, don't think of your keychain as a place to keep all of your useful tools for quick and easy access. I mean, it's a convenient place to keep your keys together so they're not knocking around in the bottom of your pocket individually like loose change, but you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket, metaphorically speaking.

    Keep your most commonly used keys on one small ring. I have one ring with my car key, house key, and a discount card for my grocery store (you have to actually scan the card to get the ancillary benefits).

    On a side note, many club cards like that have a note on the back that says if the keys attached to them are found you can drop them into a mailbox with no postage or cost to the finder and the keys will be returned to the club member at the cost of the institution sponsoring the club. If you have one of these little keychain cards with that kind of note on it, for the love of all that is sane and righteous, put it on your freaking keychain! Even if you never use the card itself, having it on there makes it that much more likely that you will get your keys back if you lose them, and without anyone finding out where you live (more on that later).

    So, I have another keychain with my vehicle's remote on it. It also has another house key (and a handcuff key - just in case!) and that's it. I use a belt attachment point (I like using the kind that slides onto the belt from the end instead of just clipping on from the top because it means it can never come off) that allows me to clip my keys onto my belt. I keep my remote and my car key both on this clip. "Wait," you say, "you said not to keep them together!" Relax, because they're not "together" they're just hanging out at the same place.

    I almost never take my remote off of my belt. It just sits there and waits for me to need a spare way to get into my house or my car. I can still use the buttons on it to unlock my car remotely without taking it off my belt. I just take my ignition key off and then unlock the doors remotely, get in and start the car. This comes in handy in a number of situations. If I somehow lock my keys in the car I can use the remote to gat back in. If I somehow manage to lock myself out of the house I have a spare house key to get back in. I keep a spare house key and a spare key to my wife's car in my own car too, just in case, as well as an additional key to my car that I can use to give to valet parking people.

    A note on valet keys:
    If your car has a trunk that is separate from the main cabin your car probably originally came with what is called a valet key. This key is typically slightly different from the others (usually the main key is black and the valet is grey), and here's how they work. The valet key only starts the car and opens the doors. It won't unlock the glovebox, the center console (if it locks), or the trunk. If you lock the glovebox with your main key then the valet won't be able to open it, or your trunk, or anything else. On Honda sedans there is a little lever that pops the trunk. It has a lock on it too that you can use to disable the lever so they can't use it to get into the trunk.

    Never give anyone else your main bundle of house keys unless you trust them absolutely. Even better, never give anyone else your keys. If you need to leave your car with a valet or at the mechanic, give them your spare, and here's why. Most people don't realize that there's almost always something in your car (probably your registration?) that has your home address on it. A clever criminally-minded individual could get your home address, copy your house key, and then send his friends to clean your place out while you are out having dinner or watching a movie at the fancy place with valet parking.

    I mentioned this in another thread, but it should be mentioned here briefly, and it's even one more reason why you shouldn't keep a bunch of stuff on the ring with the keys to your car. If you have a great big heavy lump of keys hanging from your car key it will create undue wear on your vehicle ignition cylinder, eventually damaging it beyond proper function. Keep that stuff separate. It doesn't NEED to be with your keys.

    You can absolutely have a huge lump of keychain tools all tied together, but leave your keys out of it. They're special, and they are just one component of a delicate piece of machinery - your locks. If your keys get messed up, the machine won't work, and then where will you be?
     
    TarHeelBrit and B_H_ like this.
  2. kertap75

    kertap75 EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Great post! I keep a few useful things on my key chain, but I disconnect my car key when I use use it leaving the rest of the stuff on my belt. I hate that my remote is integrated into my keys, so I can't keep them separate like you suggest. I really want on of those credit card emergency keys for my wallet. Do you know if they are any good? I know they won't start the car, but they will get me in the door. And +1 on the handcuff key, I keep meaning to get one of those side release buckles with one inside, you never know what the night might lead to.
     
  3. mightywombat

    mightywombat Loaded Pockets

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    I don't have a lot of experience with the credit card emergency keys, but you can also get little credit card sized key storage things that you can slip your emergency car and house keys into and keep tucked away.
     
  4. stax
    • In Omnia Paratus

    stax Loaded Pockets

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    Me too. I hate the sound of a keychain knocking my steering column as I drive. This technique solves that problem for me. I keep my car key on mcgizmo clip for easy removal from the keychain.
     
  5. jnsn

    jnsn Loaded Pockets

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    i <3 my keypad entry. i just really started to use it and quit carrying the remote fob completely about 2 months ago (had truck for 4 yrs) it took some getting used to but having that big box off my keys is worth it.

    plus if someone steals my keys and uses them to unlock the door without the fob or code, the alarm goes off.
     
  6. sungame

    sungame Loaded Pockets

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    Sound advice, I guess. However, at least for many European cars, the remote and the key are one and the same, or the physical key is just a little part of the remote.
     
  7. Mumbojumboo
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner

    Mumbojumboo EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    I hate remote /key combos. I have had nothing but problems with them and I imagine it will be the only thing that exists in the future. Dam you progress.
     
  8. mcmc

    mcmc Loaded Pockets

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    The keypad entry is nice, but doesn't it make it a hassle when you have groceries etc.?
     
  9. jnsn

    jnsn Loaded Pockets

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    its hung me up a couple times but either way i have to have a free hand to open the door too. if im trying to open the passenger door thats a different story.. like with the kid in my arm id have to open drivers first and hit the unlock button. i usually plan ahead and leave doors unlocked if thats the case.
     
  10. mcmc

    mcmc Loaded Pockets

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    I see, guess you live a safe area where you can leave your doors unlocked =D

    I just found a solution that works for me though. I only wear 5.11 tactical pants now, and I've never had a use for the little metal d-ring in the front right. But I put my remote fob on a McGizmo clip and clipped it there - I like it, because I can open my car very easily, just reach down and hit the button. And if I have a lot of stuff in my arms, then I can get my stuff situated in the car first, and then once my hands are free I can retrieve my actual ignition key much easier.

    Thanks for the idea OP!
     
  11. jnsn

    jnsn Loaded Pockets

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    it isnt too bad in my area but i dont keep anything worth stealing in my truck. id rather have someone open the door and dig around than bust out a window for nothing.
     
  12. SharpScott

    SharpScott Loaded Pockets

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    An alternative on the key duplication problem is to use restricted keys, Like Medeco or Schlage Primus or Abloy Protec or a million other restricted key systems. Of course, I'm in the UK where you can actually get most standard models of locks on a restricted key section/profile. Infact they're becoming more and more popular, especially with the whole bump key thing.

    Scott.
     
  13. Kilted1

    Kilted1 Loaded Pockets

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    Excellent info sir Wombat! Looks like I'm going to have to rethink what I just recently rethunk. Or maybe it's time to break down and get something keyper-ish.
     
  14. remy b

    remy b Loaded Pockets

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    A won't keep my home-keys (or spares) in the car for I may have to collect letters or papers from work with my address on them.

    I'll just put them somewhere in the car and forget about them, or just leave them there for a while, to go shopping or meet a friend...

    And someone who steals the car or at least breaks into it, then has both the keys and the address, making robbery quite easy.

    My 2 cents (and a half).

    Rémy
    ;)
     
  15. Crco

    Crco Loaded Pockets

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    It's good to see thought-provoking and cerebral op/ed like this on the forums. Excellent insights, MightyWombat.

    Cheers.
     
  16. mightywombat

    mightywombat Loaded Pockets

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    Scott, good point with the restricted key systems! This is one thing that a lot of people don't think about, especially since it's sometimes a bit expensive to install a new restricted key system for an entire house. The thing is, NOBODY can make a copy of your keys without showing ID and matching a signature card (or some such security measure - Schalge Primus just comes with a card that you show, so whoever has the card is authorized to make copies). Also, if you ever move you can, of course, uninstall your restricted locks hardware and take it with you. If you move out of your local area, however, you may have to either order new keys from your original locksmith or find a way to transfer your system to a new locksmith in your local area to make ordering new keys more convenient. Sometimes this is quite simple. but some systems (Schlage Primus again) use region-specific key blanks that your new locksmith won't be able to get.

    Best bet if you're interested in this sort of thing is to find alocksmit that you trust not to rip you off and who you think will give you the straight dope on the lock systems and go talk to them about it. Do plenty of research so that you understand the various features of the systems and then buy what's right for you.
     
  17. ElChingon7

    ElChingon7 Loaded Pockets

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    Great idea, thanks.
     
  18. B_H_

    B_H_ Loaded Pockets

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    excellent. im a minimalist so i keep my ignition key in my car and the unlock fob on my keychain. when i put the key in the ignition theres nothing dangling off it -all my keys are still in my pocket.
     
  19. o62omega

    o62omega Loaded Pockets

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    Good Thread! Thanks
     
  20. gazz98

    gazz98 Loaded Pockets

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    Wow. Great advice. I just seperated my remote entry and car key. I can't believe I never thought of this before.