Post by Rob Post by Edwin Pawlowski Post by Sharon K. Cooke
No, they are not. Keys do have code numbers, but they aren't keyed to
the VIN in any way the dealer can get to the codes.
The dealer may have the key code for a particular car though. My boss's
wife used his car and the electric locks failed. (door key and ignition key
were different) He had the key in his pocket, but he was in Europe at the
time. I called the dealer (60 miles away) and with some difficulty in
proving it was a legit situation, he gave the code to a local locksmith.
I doubt you can just walk into a dealer with a vin number and buy a key. I
don't know if the dealer got the code from his file as I never gave him the
Of course you can order a key with your VIN number! How else would you
ever get one if all your keys were lost? And yes, anybody can walk
right up to your car and copy down the VIN number that is right there in
plain view. Generally the dealer does not have a list of VIN and key
codes lying around, but the manufacturer retains that data, and is able
to provide either the code number or a coded key (or coded lock
cylinder) when one is ordered by the dealer.
Most jurisdictions require that the dealer collect proof of ownership
from the person ordering a coded key, and collect a copy of some form of
personal ID, before making an order for a coded key. [Customers
frequently object loudly to this - sheesh, it's for their own good,
makes you wonder how understanding they'd be if the dealer sold a coded
key for their vehicle to a crook.]
GM also requires their dealers to keep records on any person that
requests a key based on VIN number. It is for the dealer's own
protection: if a dealer makes a key for someone that is not the owner
and that car gets stolen, the dealer is an accessory to that theft and
can, at the least, be subject o civil suit.
Here is a direct quote of Buick Bulletin 01-00-89-009:
Info - Replacement of Keys, Key Numbers and/or Security Chips
Replacement of Keys, Key Numbers and/or Security Chips
2002 and Prior Passenger Cars and Trucks
General Motors has received reports from dealers and law enforcement
officials in various parts of the country regarding a new trend in
The current mode of operation is for a person (thief) to do the
Pick out the vehicle he/she wishes to steal from a new/used car sales
facility or off the street.
Record the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
Take the VIN to any dealership which cuts keys. In some instances they
have presented hand-written registration forms as proof of ownership.
The thief then returns and drives the vehicle from the location.
Cutting of replacement keys is serious business. General Motors
Policies and Procedures Manual, Section 3.2.5 (3.1.6 in Canada),
Replacement of Key Numbers & Security Chips, provides the following
guidelines: "For security and protection against auto theft, dealer
should verify vehicle ownership before providing replacement keys, key
numbers and/or security chips. Verification should include positive
identification of requester and verification of vehicle ownership
Each dealership should (if they are in the business of cutting keys
for walk-in, phone, fax, or other requesters) make a permanent file,
by VIN, of all key requests. Copies of the following documents should
remain in each file:
Government-issued picture ID (for example, a driver's license)
Registration or other proof of ownership Registration should have
normal markings from the state/province which issued the registration
and possibly the receipt for payment recorded as well. Since each
state/province will be different, you will need to set up guidelines
for your dealership based on the current registration laws and or
policies of your state/province. We know of no law enforcement agency
or state/province vehicle registration office which will accept a
hand-written registration document.
Copy of the paid customer receipt which has the name of the employee
who cut and sold the key to the customer
When vehicle ownership cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, DO
NOT provide the keys. Refer the customer to the selling dealer or GM
When a dealership calls the TRACS 2000 voice response system (Vintage
Group in Canada) for key codes, the dealer code is recorded by VIN, in
a permanent electronic file.
Cutting keys for anyone other than the registered vehicle owner may
result in the dealership and/or employee being charged with aiding and
abetting in grand theft auto and determined to be liable, in the event
the vehicle is subsequently stolen from another dealership or
Dealers may wish to designate one specific, trusted employee as the
person to handle all key requests.