Don’t lie. You’ve lost car keys before. We all have, at some point in our lives as drivers, lost our keys. It’s rarely due to carelessness. Drop them in the snow or down a grate? Fumble for your phone in a hurry to have them fall out of your pocket? Kids run off with them not realizing the ramifications? Yeah, this kind of thing just happens sometimes.
In the past, it was an expense, sure, but as technologies have evolved to make your car keys more convenient and secure, the cost of key replacements has skyrocketed significantly. It’s an inevitability. A saw-cut piece of metal’s only going to cost you parts and labor to have a new one cut. But newer technologies like keyless remote systems, transponders, smart keys and the like? That’s some hefty technology, and very involved to replace.
Let’s do a run down on what your new set of keys is going to run you, depending on what you’ve got.
So, you think you’ve got a basic set of keys? You can tell if the shank (the long metal part that goes into locks) will have simple grooves that are easy for a skilled locksmith to copy. These are affordable running you around $3.00 for a locksmith to make you a set.
If you have a fob (or remote/transmitter), that’s going to cost you a good bit more. These can run between $50-$90 depending on model, complexity and signal security measures. There do exist other options though, for aftermarket fob offerings that can significantly reduce the cost.
You can find out the specifications of your fob by going online and looking up your make and model of vehicle (provided you didn’t install a secondary system after market to begin with).
Transponder keys came along in the mid-90s, but became a standard after the turn of the century. These contain a simple chip that, once plugged, unlocks the ignition. Without the transponder, the ignition simply won’t work. This is an added measure to prevent fraudulent copies of keys from letting people make off with the vehicle.
These can be very pricey or very cheap, depending. Going to a dealership can run you prices like $160, while locksmiths capable of creating these transponder keys, will charge you something closer to $20-$30.
A search online can teach you tricks with an existing key, to program a copied key from a blacksmith, with a little online research.
These are the modern take on a classic key, with a winding, less toothy shank. These are going to be more expensive, due to the equipment needed to cut them being very pricy. Not all locksmiths have this equipment, and it’s going to run you between $150-$250 to have one of these replaced.
Switchblade keys fold into the fob, making them a single unit. These are increasingly common, and they can cost you a little as $80, but more often between $200-$300 due to their form factor and the second generation remote technology in them.
Smart keys are a whole different ballgame, more like a USB encryption key/thumb drive, that allows push-button ignition. This was novel a few years ago, and is most common in things like Mercedes-Benz and other higher-end cars.
They’re becoming more common though, and are likely going to be the standard within 10 years or so. The problem with these is, they’re painfully expensive, costing up to $400 to replace, and it can be hard to find a locksmith that can, opting for a dealership’s extortion to solve the problem. Oh my.
Is It Worth It?
Is all of this expensive, hard-to-replace technology worth it? Well, ultimately, yes. Since the invention of these newer technologies, the rate of car thefts and break ins have significantly decreased by major statistics. Security is worth it, just be more careful with your keys, knowing how costly they can be to replace!
To learn more about car key types, and the advantages of these technologies, fill out our contact form below.