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Early Corolla Ignition Keys


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I recently lost my key ring in Jaycar, while browsing, with my KE30 ignition key on it.  Luckily, I’ve always kept a spare key screwed to the sub floor, for just such a situation.  However, it left me with just the one key.  I don't see them very often, but did see a pair of genuine Toyota KE series key blanks, out of Malaysia, on ebay a couple of weeks ago, so ordered them.  There was always the risk they could be Chinese copies, but I was prepared to accept that risk; as, after all, it is only a key blank. 

I was surprised that they arrived so soon, & they are perfect. If they are a copy; then they are a bloody good copy.  The Toyota Motors & Japanese Toyota symbol, are exactly like my remaining original one, I have.


So I head off to my local friendly "olde school" locksmith this afternoon, to have him cut the two blanks, using my sole remaining original, olde & worn ignition key, as a template.

"Sure, I can do that" the locksmith advised; but you "didn't have to buy blanks, as I have plenty of them". Actually, about 200 off.  He pulled one out to show me, & they certainly were blanks; as they had no Toyota symbol or logo on them.  At least my blanks would look like they were original, after they had been cut.

He explained to me, that the reason, He carried so many of these blanks; was that all early Toyota models used the exact same key blank.  However, he was quick to point out, that the barrels were in all cases, a little bit different, depending on what Toyota type & model of vehicle it was.

He declined to use my original key as a master, to cut the two new blanks.  "Too worn, to result in a good job", was the comment. "I'll just use the keys number !"

"Hold on", I said; "my car is going on 50 years olde (actually 48), & you are telling me, there is a profile kept, & it is computerized ?"  "Yep !"

OK, so on closer inspection, there is a tiny number, "KXXXX" stamped into my original Toyota ignition key.  So He punches this number into his computerized machine, & a minute so later, I have two brand new keys.

Hold on, me thinks. There were no computers around when my Corolla was manufactured; or if there was, they were crude early versions, long before mass data storage.

My friendly locksmith explains that there was always records kept of key codes, but they were paper based key profile records, of which registered locksmiths, could obtain.  However, over the years, all those early key code profiles have been digitised, & are now simply a computer file, which is loaded into the machine, so it has as many profiles that are available, worldwide.  Apparently updates come out 2-3 times a year.

So home I go, & I've just tried them out, & they work perfectly, although a little tight.  He had warned me, this would probably be the case, & suggested initially putting a coating of light oil (sewing machine oil) on the key shafts, before inserting them.

So I live & learn; & now happy, that ignition key losses, or wearing, will not be an issue, in the near future.

Cheers Banjo 




Edited by Banjo
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Quite a story, and great to know that. I've checked on my car and it doesn't have any of that... but also I don't have the original keys, nor the original locks 🤪

I the US, Toyota still caries the original blank keys and they aren't that expensive https://www.toyotapartsdeal.com/oem/toyota~key~blank~90999-00066.html 

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Hey Banjo

I lost my one and only key to my work ute when I was doing night shift a few months ago. I back tracked for an hour to try and find it. No Luck. I was just about to start calling for a tilt tray as I was parked in a public space with 10 k worth of tools and materials easily accessible so I wasnt leaving her alone. Luckily security found my key and I dodged a bullet. My key is a genuine Toyota one but really worn and I can't see the number on it so I was going to the wreckers to get a new ignition barrel and matching door locks so I could have more   than one key. I havent made it there yet. But I might pull my ignition barrel on the weekend to see if it is numbered and make a trip to your locksmith and and get some keys cut. Whereabouts is he located?



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Hi Ian,

             You were lucky !   I have a V6 Camry, & years ago we were on our way to holidays at Crescent Head, near Kempsey.  Trailer behind, 2 kids on board, wife & everything needed for 2 weeks hols.  Pulled up at Coffs for a early tea, before the last run to Crescent Head.  All back in the Camry, & the key will not turn/unlock at all. No spare key to try.   So I remove the barrel, tie the key to the ignition switch barrel, so the computer thinks the key is inserted, & short the appropriate wires, so it will start & run.

Off we go, & got there safely.  Next morning rang a locksmith in Port Macquarie.  He was out fishing, & wasn't prepared to come up to Crescent Head to fix it. So I drove to Port, & met him in a park. He fitted all new plates inside the barrel, which were severely worn.  He advised Toyota had a bad batch of plate material back in the late 90s that affected lots of Hiluxs & Camrys.

Never an issue after that, since I had the new plates fitted.

Cheers Banjo

Edited by Banjo
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