Find the Rare Caterpillar Key – Where You Can Get This Unique Collectible

What is a Caterpillar Key?

A caterpillar key, also known as a butterfly key, is a type of cryptographic key used in vehicle communications security. It gets its name from the fact that it comes in two parts – the “caterpillar” private key used for signing messages, and the “butterfly” public key used for encryption and verification.

The purpose of a caterpillar key is to enable secure, authenticated communications between vehicles and infrastructure in an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). The private key signs safety messages broadcast by the vehicle, while the public key allows other parties to encrypt messages sent to the vehicle and verify the validity of signed messages.

Caterpillar keys are generated in pairs – one private and one public key – and are based on elliptic curve cryptography for efficiency. The private key is securely stored in the vehicle while the public key can be made available to other entities. Protocols like the Security Credential Management System use caterpillar keys to ensure trust and security.

Overall, a caterpillar key enables trusted vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications through digital signatures and encryption to improve transportation safety and efficiency.


Where to Buy Caterpillar Keys Online

Some of the top online retailers to purchase caterpillar keys include:

Heavy Equipment Keys – This site specializes in OEM and aftermarket replacement ignition keys for CAT and other heavy equipment brands. They offer a wide selection of CAT keys for excavators, dozers, loaders, and more.

Amazon – Amazon sells caterpillar keys from brands like Aree that provide high quality replacements at a fraction of the OEM price. Many sellers offer multi-packs of keys for different equipment models.

Amazon – Another Amazon option is key packs from brands like Mango that include 10 replacement keys compatible with CAT heavy equipment.

When purchasing online, be sure to verify the specific CAT equipment models the keys support to ensure compatibility. Reputable online retailers will provide detailed product information and customer reviews.

Where to Buy Caterpillar Keys Locally

Caterpillar keys can be purchased locally at many major hardware stores, locksmith shops, and agricultural equipment dealers. Some places to check for caterpillar keys include:

  • Home Depot – Home Depot may stock caterpillar keys in the lock and key section. Check at your local store or search online at

  • Lowe’s – Similar to Home Depot, Lowe’s is another major hardware chain that may carry caterpillar keys. Visit your neighborhood Lowe’s or browse online at

  • Ace Hardware – As a hardware store focused on specialized products, Ace Hardware is a good place to look for less common keys like caterpillar keys. Check with your local store.

  • Tractor Supply Co. – Stores like Tractor Supply that focus on agricultural and farm equipment are likely to stock caterpillar keys. Visit a store near you or check online.

  • Locksmiths – Local locksmiths specialize in keys and locks, so they are a great option for finding caterpillar keys. Search for locksmiths in your area.

  • Caterpillar dealers – Authorized Caterpillar equipment dealers are guaranteed to have replacement caterpillar keys available. Find a dealer here.

When buying locally, be sure to call ahead to verify availability of the specific caterpillar key you need. Bring the lock or equipment to the store for easy matching.

Types of Caterpillar Keys

Caterpillar uses several different key styles and types for their equipment. Some of the main types include:

Barrel Keys – One of the most common key types. These have a cylindrical barrel that inserts into the ignition switch. Barrel keys come in various cuts and lengths.

Flat Keys – Also very common. Flat keys have an oval bow and flat blade. The blade may have different cuts on it.

Laser Keys – Newer style keys that have a precisely cut laser-etched pattern on the blade instead of physical cuts. Provides enhanced security.

Smart Keys – Contain a coded chip inside that communicates with the equipment’s computer. The chip must be programmed and synced for the key to work.

Master/Valet Keys – Used in pairs. The master key can access all functions while the valet key may have limited capabilities.

Caterpillar uses a variety of other more specialized key types as well, like tubular keys, infrared/radio keys, and more. The type used depends on the piece of equipment and its configuration.


How Much Do Caterpillar Keys Cost?

Caterpillar keys typically range in price from $5 to $20 per key. The most inexpensive keys are simple single keys that start a specific piece of Caterpillar equipment. More expensive keys include master keys or sets that can start multiple machines.

On Amazon, you can find individual Caterpillar keys for around $5-8 each. For example, this Aree Cat Key is priced at $5.78. Multi-packs with 5-10 keys cost $10-20.

At specialty retailers like Heavy Equipment Keys, CAT branded keys are around $2-8 each. The 8398 master disconnect key is $2, while keys with the CAT logo like the 5P8500x2 are $7.50. These specialty sites offer a wider selection of individual CAT key models.

In summary, most standard CAT keys cost $5-10, with master keys and multi-packs at the higher end around $15-20. Shopping online provides the widest selection and lowest prices compared to local parts stores.

How to Use a Caterpillar Key

Using a Caterpillar key to start heavy equipment like bulldozers, excavators, and backhoes is a simple process, though proper safety precautions should always be taken.

According to, the first step is to ensure the specimen you are trying to start is actually a Caterpillar machine. Caterpillar keys are designed for use exclusively on Caterpillar equipment.

Once you’ve confirmed it is a compatible Caterpillar machine, locate the ignition switch on the equipment. This is usually found on the main control panel. Insert the Caterpillar key fully into the ignition switch and turn it to the “on” or “start” position to power up the equipment.

Caterpillar keys come in a few varieties, but the most common is the forged “fork” style key. Make sure you are using the proper key for the specific model of Caterpillar equipment you are operating.

Always follow all safety procedures provided in the equipment’s manual and by the equipment owner or job site manager. Only qualified operators should attempt to use a Caterpillar key on heavy machinery.

Caterpillar Key Brands

Caterpillar is the leading manufacturer of caterpillar keys and heavy construction equipment. Some of Caterpillar’s top brands for keys and key-related products include:

  • Cat® Keys – Caterpillar’s flagship brand for replacement keys cut to match Caterpillar equipment locks. Cat keys are precision cut and made from nickel-silver alloy for durability.
  • Anchor® Keys – Offered under Caterpillar’s Anchor brand, these keys are designed for operating and securing Anchor marine engines. Anchor keys feature a brass construction.
  • FG Wilson Keys – FG Wilson is Caterpillar’s generator and power distribution equipment brand. FG Wilson branded keys provide access control for these products.

In addition to its own brands, Caterpillar works with independent dealers and distributors to provide customers with caterpillar keys worldwide. Some of Caterpillar’s largest global dealers include Finning, Zeppelin, and Toromont.

When purchasing a caterpillar key, it’s important to verify compatibility with your specific Caterpillar equipment using the equipment’s serial number. Reputable Caterpillar dealers can assist in identifying the correct key blank and cutting a high-quality key.

Caterpillar Key Alternatives

If you need access to a piece of Caterpillar heavy equipment and don’t have the proper key, there are some alternative options besides buying an expensive replacement key:

Lock picking tools allow you to manually manipulate the lock tumblers and open the lock without the original key. While picking locks requires some skill and practice, a basic lock pick set can be purchased for under $20. YouTube tutorials can teach the basic techniques.

Some people have had success creating makeshift keys out of paperclips and other household items. You can try bending a sturdy paperclip into the proper key shape and seeing if it will turn the lock. This likely works better on older, less sophisticated key designs.

If the equipment has an external battery, you may be able to jump the starter motor without requiring the key. Connecting a jumper cable from an external battery or power source directly to the starter solenoid can crank the engine.

As a last resort, you can call a mobile locksmith to come and make you a replacement key on-site if you prove ownership of the equipment. This will be more expensive than ordering a replacement key online, but convenient if you need immediate access.

Caterpillar Key Legality

The legality of purchasing and using Caterpillar keys depends on local laws and regulations. In general, Caterpillar keys are controlled items due to their utility in bypassing factory security systems on Caterpillar machinery.

According to Caterpillar’s Terms of Use, unauthorized access, interference, or circumvention of security features is prohibited. This suggests that purchasing and using aftermarket Caterpillar keys may violate the company’s terms.

Additionally, Caterpillar states in their Human Rights Policy that they prohibit all forms of theft, indicating the company takes a firm stance against the unauthorized use or duplication of their intellectual property.

Before acquiring or utilizing a Caterpillar key, it’s important to consult local statutes regarding the circumvention of security measures, theft of services, and similar provisions that may impose civil or criminal liability.

Caterpillar Key FAQs

Many people have questions about Caterpillar keys and how they work. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:

What is a Caterpillar key? Caterpillar keys are special keys that can start the ignition on various Caterpillar heavy machinery and equipment. According to this Quora post, Caterpillar uses the same ignition switch across their product lines, so one key can operate dozers, excavators, backhoes, and more.

Why does one key work for all Caterpillar equipment? Caterpillar designs their machinery this way for simplicity and convenience. Since all equipment uses the same ignition switch, operators only need one key to run any Caterpillar machines they use.

Are Caterpillar keys legal? In most cases, yes. Operators that own or have permission to use Caterpillar equipment can legally use a Caterpillar key. However, using a Caterpillar key to operate machines without authorization would be considered theft.

Where can I buy a Caterpillar key? Caterpillar keys can be purchased online through retailers like eBay and Amazon. You may also be able to buy them locally from equipment dealers. Keep in mind that proof of machinery ownership may be required.

How much does a Caterpillar key cost? Prices vary, but expect to pay $25-$100+ depending on the retailer. Keys bought locally from a dealer may fall on the higher end.

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