Gone are the days when losing your car keys never really meant losing them – when you could simply locate your spare copy in your car’s little bumper box kept for such occasions. We’d never think to leave our spare keys sitting around, just asking for a theft, anymore… and that means we’re a lot worse off if we misplace our original copy.

Replacing a lost or stolen car key may cost between tens and hundreds of dollars, depending on the make and model of your car. If you don’t already have a spare key, it’s worth getting a backup copy made and storing it in a safe location to prevent such a situation from arising in the future.

Here’s what to do if you lose your car keys, based on the type of key you own:

Traditional key

A traditional car key is one that you insert into a lock in your door and twist to open. These are becoming less and less popular in modern cars, but if you drive an older vehicle, this probably applies to you.

When you can’t find your traditional car key, or you think it may be stolen, it’s easiest to call a locksmith to fashion you a new key. Locksmiths have machines for cutting keys that enable them to make you a new key immediately, and a replacement key shouldn’t set you back too much. In some instances, if you have particularly old or unusual locks on your car, you might need to purchase a new lock and key system in its entirety.

Key fob

A car key fob allows you to unlock your car remotely by pressing a button on the fob. These were designed to offer more convenience for unlocking your car, but they usually come with a key that you can use to manually unlock the car if you prefer.

If you misplace just the car key fob, you’ll be okay, as you’ll still be able to unlock your car using your key. If you lose the whole set, you’ll most likely need to call a locksmith to fashion you a new key. You can buy new key fobs from dealerships and other auto stores, and they’re quite easily programable to any vehicle.

Smart key

A smart key isn’t actually a key at all – it’s a sensor device that interacts with a sensor in your car, which triggers “keyless ignition”. This type of key is used in more modern, expensive car models and lets you start your car by simply pressing a button.

Unsurprisingly, smart keys are more complex to replace if you lose yours and don’t have a backup copy. You’ll need to arrange for your car to be towed to your dealership and order a key, then wait to have it connected to your car. This process can take several days, depending on whether your dealership has your smart key in stock. It’s also a more costly key to replace, at prices upwards of $300.

Dealing with a lost car key is a headache that you don’t want to deal with. By taking a little time and money now, you can save yourself big time later. Get a backup copy and tuck it away in a safe place so you are prepared in case of loss or theft of your car keys