Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 12-20-2014, 12:02 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Taint of creation
Posts: 33,150
Where and how to best hide a key on the exterior of a car or truck?

I have OnStar and the only OnStar service that's useful (to me) for the $ 20 a month is the door unlocking. The last three times I've requested unlock (clear view of the sky) the service has failed. They suggested I try the Android Onstar unlock app which I did but discovered it only works with vehicles newer than 2010 and mine is a 2003.

So anyway thinking about dropping OnStar and hiding key somewhere on the exterior. I have a GMC Yukon Denali SUV. I normally keep a back up key in my wallet, but it falls out occasionally and I might forget to replace it immediately if I use it.

I'm thinking I should try to affix a secured box or holder somewhere out of sight. I've seen plastic keyboxs with silding tops held in place with magnets in the past, but the magnet strength on these keyboxes seemed iffy at best and I have no faith they would hold a key in place held if bumped or jostled severely by a pothole or similar or protect the key from the elements. I cannot open the hood if the doors are locked as the release is interior so the engine compartment as a storage place is out.


Years ago when I had a Honda I plastered a key to the interior side of my license plate by cocooning it in double side foam type sticky tape. It worked but it was a PITA to remove the plate to put it there and it was bear to tear away and pull off when I needed it.

Any solutions you've tried that work for you?

Last edited by astro; 12-20-2014 at 12:03 PM.
#2
Old 12-20-2014, 12:18 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 27,505
A trick that I read somewhere, but never tried, is to remove one of the screws from your front or back license plate and put it through the hole in your key (with the key behind the plate). Then, if you need the spare key, it's just a matter of coming up with a screwdriver or a coin or something to get the screw out and freeing the key.

I think my license plate has bolts in stead of screws which would make it a bit more difficult, but it's still better than not having a key.
#3
Old 12-20-2014, 12:30 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: CentralArkansas
Posts: 23,778
I wonder how modern smart keys would react to being exposed to outdoor weather and vibration? I'm referring to the keys with the black plastic sleeve. Theres electronics inside.

I know they can be very expensive to copy.
#4
Old 12-20-2014, 12:48 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,925
If your going to put it on the license plate - I'd suggest using the front.

I seriously doubt a crook would try one of these places looking for a key, but some crooks DO steal license plates. If they are going to steal only one - they would most likely take the back as it usually is the one with registration stickers.

So to me the biggest risk would be a crook attempting to use your plates for another crime - and then finding your key - and thinking - "wow - this is fortunate."

I agree with the - this might not be a good idea on the electronic keys, but you could find ways around that.
#5
Old 12-20-2014, 12:50 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 3,098
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
A trick that I read somewhere, but never tried, is to remove one of the screws from your front or back license plate and put it through the hole in your key (with the key behind the plate). Then, if you need the spare key, it's just a matter of coming up with a screwdriver or a coin or something to get the screw out and freeing the key.

I think my license plate has bolts in stead of screws which would make it a bit more difficult, but it's still better than not having a key.
Last time I sold an old car, it took us more than half and hour and a lot of tools to get the rusted screws out so we could remove the license plate.
#6
Old 12-20-2014, 12:56 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 27,505
Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
I wonder how modern smart keys would react to being exposed to outdoor weather and vibration? I'm referring to the keys with the black plastic sleeve. Theres electronics inside.

I know they can be very expensive to copy.
You could probably find a way to waterproof it by putting it in a bag or wrapping it in saran wrap first. As for vibration, it's going to experience the same amount of vibration there as it would inside your car.

I should probably mention that when I read about this, it was before they had keys with fobs built on to them. You can still get your smart key copied without the fob on it, but that's just going to get you into the car, in most cases it's not going to start it.
#7
Old 12-20-2014, 12:56 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,533
Quote:
Originally Posted by DataX View Post
If your going to put it on the license plate - I'd suggest using the front.

I seriously doubt a crook would try one of these places looking for a key, but some crooks DO steal license plates. If they are going to steal only one - they would most likely take the back as it usually is the one with registration stickers.

So to me the biggest risk would be a crook attempting to use your plates for another crime - and then finding your key - and thinking - "wow - this is fortunate."

I agree with the - this might not be a good idea on the electronic keys, but you could find ways around that.
A locksmith can make a "flat" copy of your key that doesn't have the thick plastic part with the electronics inside. It will unlock your car, but won't start it. You can duct tape that to the back of the license plate, and put a functional ignition key somewhere inside the car.
#8
Old 12-20-2014, 12:58 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 27,505
Quote:
Originally Posted by puzzlegal View Post
Last time I sold an old car, it took us more than half and hour and a lot of tools to get the rusted screws out so we could remove the license plate.
I thought about that. But then I realized that once it's free, it should be a lot easier the next time. The other thing you can do is just tear the plate off (a lot of plates only use the top two screws), then bend the key and snap it off the screw. Not optimal, but also better then being stuck in the middle of nowhere because you lost your keys.
#9
Old 12-20-2014, 12:59 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 15,153
There's like a billion magnetic hide-a-key holders on the market.

But if you are doing this multiple times a year maybe writing "don't forget your keys!!" on the back of your hand is your best option.lol
#10
Old 12-20-2014, 01:07 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,925
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarnalK View Post
There's like a billion magnetic hide-a-key holders on the market.

But if you are doing this multiple times a year maybe writing "don't forget your keys!!" on the back of your hand is your best option.lol
IMHO - even better than that is to never lock a door - either car or house using the latch on the lock. Always lock it from the outside (using the key - or the fob).

If you get in the habit of doing that - you will never lock your keys in your car or your house.

I am one of the most disorganized people in the world and forget tons of things, but have never locked my keys in my car or house since I started doing this about 20 years ago.
#11
Old 12-20-2014, 01:22 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 27,505
Quote:
Originally Posted by DataX View Post
IMHO - even better than that is to never lock a door - either car or house using the latch on the lock. Always lock it from the outside (using the key - or the fob).

If you get in the habit of doing that - you will never lock your keys in your car or your house.

I am one of the most disorganized people in the world and forget tons of things, but have never locked my keys in my car or house since I started doing this about 20 years ago.
After one or two times locking yourself out of your dorm room I started using a similar logic (and making my roommate do it as well). ONLY use the bolt lock. Leave the lock on the doorknob alone. As long as the bolt was locked either someone is in the room or there was a key outside of the room, it was just a matter of finding it, but you know either you or your roommate locked the door with the key.


Back in the 80's and 90's long before remote door entry, my uncle always kept a key in his pocket and another under his seat. He would unlock the door and put the key back in his pocket, then use the one under his seat to start the car. When he got to his destination he'd put the key back under the seat. When I asked him about this he said that he could never lock himself out as long as the only time that key came out of his pocket was to unlock the door.
#12
Old 12-20-2014, 01:24 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,533
Quote:
Originally Posted by DataX View Post
IMHO - even better than that is to never lock a door - either car or house using the latch on the lock. Always lock it from the outside (using the key - or the fob).

If you get in the habit of doing that - you will never lock your keys in your car or your house.
That's an excellent point. But sometimes people just lose their keys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarnalK View Post
There's like a billion magnetic hide-a-key holders on the market.
Yeah, and the one thing they all have in common is that they fall off. I'm convinced that the only reason these are still being sold is that people stick them on their cars and never need the spare key, so they never check under their cars and discover that the fucking thing is long gone.
#13
Old 12-20-2014, 01:38 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 27,505
I bet you could just use one of those keyholders but glue it on with some liquid nails or put a sheet metal screw through it.
I'd suggest not putting it in the wheel well though. Find somewhere else. Maybe just under the passenger front door (away from any spots that might lead you to grab at the exhaust.
#14
Old 12-20-2014, 01:55 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2014
Location: City of Destiny
Posts: 678
I wonder if any of the newer hide-a-key boxes have rare earth magnets on them? Seems to me that would that would be the way to go if they're available.

Ah, here's one used by geocachers that might fit the bill. I'd trust the rare earth magnets much more than the standard ones.

My other idea is if you have the kind of bumpers that have styrofoam in them, if you can feel it by reaching underneath, maybe you can push a spare key into it. The styrofoam should grip it enough to keep it from falling out but I suppose you could slap on a piece of duct tape, just in case. I don't drive so don't know if this is possible but thought it might be worth mentioning.

Last edited by Hopeful Crow; 12-20-2014 at 02:00 PM.
#15
Old 12-20-2014, 02:00 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: on your last raw nerve
Posts: 19,190
Quote:
Originally Posted by erysichthon View Post

Yeah, and the one thing they all have in common is that they fall off.
I've never known one to fall off. Even the old cheapies. But then again, they are stuck to old steel bumpers from 1965, when cars were really made of metal!

I'd be happy to sell you a magnet 100% guaranteed to never "fall" off. Hell, you need big pliers to get the thing off!

I use them to hang trailer hitches (six inch drop mothers with 2 inch balls) from the inside wall of the truck bed.

So powerful you need gloves to handle them. If they snap together in your bare hand, you are getting a massive blood-blister at best, lose skin maybe.
#16
Old 12-20-2014, 02:47 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Cebu, Philippines
Posts: 14,329
I made a little wire loop, and hung it around the license plate bolt, hidden behind the plate. Use slotted-screw plate fasteners, so in an emergency, it can be turned with a coin or a piece of roadside trash. Every once in a while, remove the bolts, check the status of the key, and grease the bolt so it doesn't lock up too tight to turn with a makeshift driver. In about 40 years, I actually had to use it twice.

Last edited by jtur88; 12-20-2014 at 02:47 PM.
#17
Old 12-20-2014, 04:43 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: NxnyC
Posts: 1,186
Just zip-tie it through some mounting hole or around some strut or whatever. More secure than magnetic, and you can break it free with your hand when you need it.
#18
Old 12-20-2014, 05:22 PM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Under Oveur & over Unger
Posts: 11,348
Quote:
Originally Posted by astro View Post
I have OnStar and the only OnStar service that's useful (to me) for the $ 20 a month is the door unlocking. The last three times I've requested unlock (clear view of the sky) the service has failed. They suggested I try the Android Onstar unlock app which I did but discovered it only works with vehicles newer than 2010 and mine is a 2003.
unless you've had it updated, your OnStar module works on older analog cellular networks which have mostly been turned off.
#19
Old 12-20-2014, 05:41 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 7,411
Use plastic machine screws to hold your license plates.

Use key to lock from outside.

What does the back of you bumper look like? Can you cut a slot in it, put a small ring through the hole in the key, and slide key into slot in bumper - the ring is exposed and can be used to extract key.

Last edited by usedtobe; 12-20-2014 at 05:42 PM.
#20
Old 12-20-2014, 09:53 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,246
Quote:
Originally Posted by Randolph View Post
Just zip-tie it through some mounting hole or around some strut or whatever. More secure than magnetic, and you can break it free with your hand when you need it.
Yes.

Wrap the key with aluminum foil (dull side out) and squeeze it snuggly to the key. Crawl under the car and find a spot that is tucked out of the way and use a twist tie or stainless steel lock nut wire to secure it.

I am such a prepared genius. I had a spare key hidden exactly like this. My back pack containing my wallet and keys was stolen (I hope your death is long and painful you fucking fuck) while I was at Waimea Bay on Oahu. I said to my girlfriend, no worries, I'll just get under the car and get my hidden key. When I stood up and smugly unwrapped the aluminum foil, it was only then that I remembered that I had The Club steering wheel lock bar attached to the wheel.
#21
Old 12-20-2014, 10:05 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 5,417
Quote:
Originally Posted by Randolph View Post
Just zip-tie it through some mounting hole or around some strut or whatever.
But remember to check that it's still there after you take the vehicle to a mechanic.
#22
Old 12-20-2014, 11:12 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 22,852
Quote:
Originally Posted by toofs View Post
. . . it was only then that I remembered that I had The Club steering wheel lock bar attached to the wheel.
Ouch!

(The first time I attached The Club to my steering wheel...I turned it too far and broke my windshield from the inside. Drat!)
#23
Old 12-20-2014, 11:38 PM
BANNED
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Antioch
Posts: 11,459
My car won't start without the fob attached to the key. So the reason I would need a key is if I locked myself out. Which I have done. I bought a real estate combination lock box and epoxyed it to the bottom of my car and I keep only the key portion in the box, not a fob. Still there after all these years.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:34 PM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: smelly slipper quiznos wiki giovanna pronunciation heart rate 170 giant booger removal reverse pedophelia chili breakfast christine chamberlain mythbusters pet sematary wendigo punisher punches bear waitress rants psychiatrist couch name dutch facial features build a generator enclosure pens that you can write on your skin with will hydrochlorothiazide show on drug test best man speeches son to father waterbeds good for your back swingline electric stapler model 67 manual how big is a 2x2 tattoo ending an ebay auction early what is cam quality beaver creek vs vail toaster in a bathtub dr pepper mix drink