What if you lost or broke your car keys and doesnt have a spare? Well good news is, you can always get a new one at any online store, locksmith shop, and at the dealership then get it cut but that doesnt mean you dont have to take good care of it since thieves can copy, or steal it from you easily then access your car or home. As time goes by manufacturers have made vehicles more difficult to steal but it has affected the replacement keys price as well.
Here’s what you will face in the way of cost if you have to replace your key, along with some alternatives that could lower the bill. The usual prices quoted where an hour of labor at an auto dealership can cost more than $100.
Basic Car Keys and Automobile Remotes
A basic car key, which was common up until the mid to late 90s has no security feature other than its unique cut. A locksmith can duplicate these keys and doesn’t need any extra equipment. They can use the same machine they use to cut other keys.
The only benefit of having the job done at the dealership would be to get the manufacturers branding on the head of the key. A Honda dealership near the Edmunds office charges about $12 for a basic key. On most modern vehicles, remotes are an integral part of the key set. At the dealership, the cost of replacing a fob can range from $50-$90, depending on the automaker or complexity of the design. All fobs need to be programmed. Some dealerships will do it for free, while others will charge a half hour to an hour of labor.
Most remotes can be programmed with a specific combination of button presses on the remote and key turns in the ignition. Some owner’s manual will have the programming instructions, and you can also find this information online. There are aftermarket replacement remotes that you can be purchased online or from a locksmith. Like most aftermarket products, the quality will vary, but they are a less expensive alternative if you’ve lost your fob.
After the mid to late 90s, vehicle manufacturers have began putting a transponder chip in the plastic head of the key. The chip emits a signal to a receiver in the ignition. If this immobilizer detects an incorrect signal the vehicle will not start since it will be identified as a wrong key.
The difference between a basic key and a transponder key is that the chip in the transponder key must be programmed before it can start the vehicle. Locksmiths and dealers have the machines needed to program these types of keys. In some vehicles, the transponder key and the fob are an all in one unit and this adds to the price of the keyfob.
If you’re the type who frequently loses keys, keeping a spare might be able to save money on getting new keys/fob and programming. In some vehicles, if you already have two working keys will allow you to program the third key on your own. You can have a locksmith cut this emergency key and then you perform the procedure for programming, which can frequently be found in your owner’s manual.
Laser Cut Keys
Laser cut keys blade are slightly thicker and has fewer carved out grooves due to the distinctive winding cut on the shank. The key cutting machines are more expensive and are not as likely to be found at every hardware store or locksmith. Laser-cut keys also have built-in transponder chips and they need to be programmed at the dealership or by a locksmith. All-in-one laser-cut keys are becoming more popular, but as we mentioned, these keys are more expensive and typically need to be replaced at the dealership. Including labor, these can range from $150-$250, which is the price of a laser-cut key for a Honda Insight, for example.
Flip keys have shanks that fold into the fob when they’re not in use and pop out with you press a button. The only advantage of these flip keys is that its components can be purchased separately. If for some reason your key was damaged and no longer works, you can purchase the shank separately for roughly $60-$80.
Smart Key Remotes
Smart keys aren’t keys in the traditional sense. They are fobs that are either inserted in the dash or, in the more advanced systems, they stay in your pocket or purse. The driver turns the car on and off with the press of a button.
A smart key’s main form of security is its ability to use rolling security codes. The system randomizes the correct code and prevents thieves from hacking it through the use of a device called a code grabber. The vehicle’s computer recognizes the code emitted by the smart key and verifies it before starting the engine.
If you are someone who is tempting fate by only having one set of keys, consider this: If you lose all the keys to your car, you will need to get it towed to the dealership and it can potentially cost you close to $1,000. There’s no denying that modern keys are expensive. Its better to get a spare key now, than to stress out and spend the money in what might be an emergency.