Excerpts from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114187087816593304.html
Car manufacturers are increasingly limiting locksmiths' access to the
information needed to program vehicles and make new electronic keys.
They say that making key information more available would diminish the
effectiveness of their anti-theft systems.
But with more dealer profit coming from service and parts departments
than new-car sales, car makers also have an interest in directing
consumers to their dealerships and to the roadside-assistance programs
many of them have launched.
Several states are moving to make it easier to get replacement car
keys. A bill introduced in Maryland would require manufacturers to
give auto owners 24/7 access to information sufficient to make a key
reproduction. Similar legislation is pending in Virginia and was
recently introduced in California.
Some new products try to solve the problem. Companies have come up
with systems that enable drivers to unlock their cars with a Bluetooth
device. And the locksmith industry has developed some tools to crack
auto makers' codes.
While car makers oppose legislation, they have recently started
working with the locksmith industry on another solution. A
vehicle-security committee is working on a system in which registered
locksmiths who pay a fee and meet other criteria like undergoing
background checks could call or go online to obtain key information
from car makers.
But as more cars have the new systems, manufacturers are making less
key information available to locksmiths. Chrysler makes the pin codes
required for programming its Sentry Keys available only to its dealers
and its roadside-assistance program. Replacement Lexus keys have to be
purchased through dealers, though Toyota keys don't. BMW and VW allow
only their dealers to order replacement keys.
Last year, GM stopped providing key-making information to locksmiths
other than those working through GM's roadside-assistance program.
GM's OnStar service also provides assistance with lockouts. It opens a
car with a remote door unlock if a key is inside and sends a locksmith
from the company's roadside-assistance program if keys are lost.
Car makers argue that the inconvenience of having to go to a
dealership or wait a few hours or days for a key is nowhere near as
inconvenient as having to deal with a stolen vehicle.
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