Car Key VIN Number Mythbusting

Had a phone call today. Sadly common story that started with an unusual question.

The story was a common one of a relationship split with a car on the ex-partners drive and him refusing to hand the keys over. Could I help? Of course.

The odd question was could I make a key from the car VIN (chassis) number. The problem was that the man was violent and the lady thought a new key could be made from the VIN number and she could turn up in the middle of the night and simply drive away.

The answer is; No. And for very obvious reasons, but why did she think this was possible?

“I’ve read it on the internet, and so have my friends. Even my dad says so!”

Thats the point. We all rely on the internet, the fountain of all knowledge, but unfortunately the internet is dominated by click bait, misinformation and exageration to attract followers, so imagine making a key from the VIN number was possible.

The VIN is etched into the car and visible through the windscreen, so no car would ever be safe. So where did the rumour come from?

No doubt it came from experience, misunderstood. At some point, someone has lost their car keys and gone to the dealership for a new one. They will have been told it will take 2 weeks and asked why so long? The answer would be that the key had to be made in the factory to the VIN number.

This is true, but what it means is that the correct key will be sent to the dealer, with the blade already cut to fit the locks and the pre coding done on the transponder. The dealer would then have the 2 minute job of programming the key to the car. Unless they do, the car would not start, so the key, even though ordered to the VIN number, would be useless.

So how do we do all that at the roadside in well under an hour?

We measure the lock and cut the blade there and then. We can extract the precoding from the car ECU or BCM with our advanced and specialist computer equipment, and then transfer this to the transponder. That just leaves the 2 minute job of programming the key to the car. All done.

So no, a car key can’t be made to the car VIN number. Not completely enough to start it anyway.

Myth busted


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