Years ago, losing or misplacing a car key was not a big deal – key replacement was not expensive and cost you only a few dollars. It was possible to get a new key from the hardware store. Nowadays, however, since cars are becoming more and more technologically advanced, key replacement is not as easy and cheap as it used to be. The cost of car key replacement depends on certain factors, including the year and the model of your vehicle, and the type of the car key. Here is a list of five main types of car keys along with the prices:
Costs To Replace Different Car Keys
- Basic key. This type of car key is used in many old car models. In order to replace this type of car key, you just need to visit one of the hardware stores with a spare key and make a copy. It should not cost you more than $10. If you do not have a spare key, you can contact a locksmith, who can make a new key for you on the spot. In some cases, locksmiths are not capable to help, and you may end up buying a new ignition lock cylinder from either a dealership or repair shop.
- Key fob (also known as a remote keyless entry). A key fob is the type of key that allows car owners to lock and unlock their cars by pushing a button. Losing a key fob should not be a big problem because they are readily available and easily programmable. You can get a new key fob at a dealership, online, or in special auto parts stores. Key fobs are usually not expensive and cost about $20, while programming a replacement key fob will be up to $100 depending on the complexity design and automaker.
- Transponder key. This type of key appeared in the 1990s when car manufacturers created these ignition keys embedded with a computer chip. If you lose your transponder key, and you do not have an extra one, your car will be towed to the dealership, where you will have to show the papers proving your car ownership before purchasing a new key. The average price for this type of car key is $160.
- Smart key. This type of car key allows you to keep it in your pocket or bag while you unlock and start your car. Smart keys contain a special electronic code that is verified first before a driver can open the door and start the car. Unfortunately, smart keys are expensive, so you have to be prepared to pay a hefty amount to replace them. Replacement can cost you anywhere from $220 to $500, depending on the model of your car.
- Switchblade key. This type of car key is basically similar to a traditional car key, and the main difference is its appearance. A switchblade key folds away inside the fob when it is not used and pops out when you push the plastic holder’s button. Switchblade keys are expensive and may cost up to $300.
Why Is Car Key Replacement So Expensive?
Most modern car keys today are sophisticated electronic components and devices that have been programmed before being used. That is why if lose it, you may have to pay a lot of money to replace it.
How Can You Get Affordable Car Key Replacement?
There are three ways that you can choose from:
Do Key Fob Programming Yourself
You may be able to program your key fob yourself, but it depends on the age and model of the vehicle, and the process of programming a key fob varies. In some cases, you can find all the instructions in an automaker’s manual. If not, you can also find the information on the internet. However, to perform the programming procedure you may need two working key fobs. For this reason, it may be smart to purchase and program an extra key before you need it. Moreover, if you decide to sell your car in the future, you may get more money for it if there are two working sets of key fobs.
Purchase An After-Market Key Fob
You may be able to buy an after-market key fob on the internet or at a locksmith if your vehicle is at least 5 years old. It is a cheaper option to replace a key fob, but after-market key fobs vary in quality, so you should be careful when buying them.
Get A Key Fob At a Locksmith
If you are choosing between a dealership and a locksmith for replacing your key fob, locksmiths are usually cheaper. Before you decide, you can also contact a local dealership to find out about their prices.