Car Key Replacement

Car key replacement used to be cheap – you could go to a locksmith or auto dealer, buy a spare and have it programmed for about $10. Nowadays, it can cost a lot more.

First, check your pockets and other places where you may have left your key fob. If you still can’t find it, contact the right experts for assistance.

Keyless Entry Remotes

A keyless entry remote unlocks doors, but it also allows a driver to start the engine and warm up the car before heading out. Some models also lock when the driver exits, to protect the vehicle from thieves.

Unlike the old mechanical keys, which could be replaced easily by a local locksmith, modern key fobs are more complicated. Some require special equipment to re-program, and dealerships usually charge the highest price.

But a reputable car part store like AutoZone often sells replacement key fobs at a lower cost than the dealer, and they include simple self-programming instructions for most models. Other options for a low-cost Car Key Replacement include a locksmith or a used-car dealer that offers reconditioned keys. Lastly, consider whether your car insurance or extended warranty covers lost or damaged fobs. It may be worth the investment to avoid paying for a pricey new key fob. CR recommends that vehicle owners keep their existing key fobs in good shape, by keeping them out of water and keeping them away from other magnets.

Mechanical Keys

If you have a traditional key for your car—the kind with a head that turns and a tail that locks—an automotive locksmith can cut you a new one on the spot without the original. The cost depends on the car’s make and model, but a locksmith with an inventory of standard keys can typically charge $10 to $15 per key.

If your car has a Fobic or Smart Key (Proximity Key), the most recent key technology that plugs into the dash or activates a proximity sensor to start the car, only a dealership can replace it. But this can run up to $400, plus your insurance deductible.

The key will need to be programmed to your specific vehicle, so you’ll need the year, make and model of your car—as well as a form of identification, such as your driver’s license or registration card. If your car is under warranty, check your owner’s manual or contact your auto club or car-insurance provider to see if the key fob can be replaced under your coverage.

Transponder Keys

Transponder keys (also known as chip keys) contain a microchip in the key head that is activated by a special signal sent by your car. The signal is sent by a special antenna around the ignition cylinder and the vehicle’s computer needs to get the correct response from the key before the engine will start.

Transponders are designed to be more secure than traditional keys that function off of the simple principle that their cuts match the tumblers inside the lock. They are a great option for anyone looking for a reliable, easy-to-use anti-theft device to keep their car safe from theft.

Getting a transponder key copied can be more expensive than normal rekeying because it requires the transponder to be programmed to your specific vehicle. However, some auto locksmiths can clone the chip from an existing key without having to reprogramme it. This is often cheaper than going to the car dealership for a replacement.

Switchblade Keys

Long gone are the days when misplacing or losing your car keys was a big deal. These days, however, it can be a costly endeavor to get them replaced. Depending on your model and year vehicle, it may be best to have a backup key made ahead of time, or you could be out several hundred dollars.

Known as flip keys, switchblade keys are designed to fold into the key fob when not in use. They are popular among drivers due to their compact design, which can reduce bulk in the pocket or purse. Many locksmiths can also convert other types of keys into the flip style.

To get a standard key copied, simply bring your old one to your local AutoZone and have an associate select the correct blank. A machine then traces the original contours of the key, creating a replacement that fits perfectly. The cost varies based on the type of key, whether it is a basic or laser cut, and if it requires a transponder chip or a smart key.