The Dealership or Locksmith for Car Key Replacement
It used to be that getting a key made was just a matter of a trip to the hardware store, and that was it. Hand the clerk your key, he makes a duplicate, gives it back to you, and you are on your way home, the owner of a new key. Unfortunately, unless you are a cave dweller, locks and keys are a lot more sophisticated today. Naturally, all of this technology can come at a very steep price.
Many new cars today have what are called a proximity key, which allows an owner to unlock their car door by simply having the correct key close. Further, they can start the ignition by having a key close, then pushing a Start button on the dash. Needless to say, these systems aren’t cheap to replace a key for, but even the less sophisticated keys aren’t cheap. Big thanks to the guys at Ahwatukee Locksmith for all the useful information.
To prevent automobile theft, many cars today have transponder systems that prevent them from starting without the key that is programmed to match it. These systems also include a fob with buttons that lock or unlock the doors.
If you happen to lose the key and the fob you can take it to your car’s dealer for a replacement and reprogramming, but it will cost you about $200, depending on the make of the car as well as the key’s design. Some dealers will charge you up to $375 for this service while others will charge up to $500, depending on the model.
If you want to save money and you can afford to wait, you might be able to buy a replacement key over the Internet. A Honda dealer, for example, might charge you up to $200 to replace the key to a 2005 Accord. Websites such as keylessride.com, a source for all kinds of key replacements at discount prices, will usually charge you considerably less. The same key for the above mentioned Accord sells on keylessride for $54. If you decide to opt for an off-brand, a key will cost you about $45. If you want a locksmith to cut another key and program it, the cost will be an additional $80, bringing the total to $134.
Going it Alone
Depending on the make a model of your car, you can do it yourself and save more money. The first thing to do in these instances is to buy a fob from one of many sources, checking the instructions in the owner’s manual for your car, then program the fob to match. If you need more information or another view on the instructions, these can usually be found online. You can search online by entering your car’s model name and “key programming.”
Another problem that often presents itself is when the buttons of your fob stop working, but you can still start the car with the key. It’s at this point that the fob’s battery usually needs to be changed. These types of batteries can usually be purchased at minimal expense at drugstores, convenience stores, and retailers such as Radio Shack for less than $10. There is usually a tiny screw in what amounts to a door on the fob that you can open and replace the battery. If not, you might be able to pry the door open with a coin or a small screwdriver to replace the battery.
If after you have replaced the electronics of the fob it still doesn’t work, you might have to replace the electronics completely. Most dealers will do this for around $100 or slightly less, depending on the model of your car. This is another task that you can usually accomplish yourself and have it cost you minimal money.
Call a Locksmith
Let’s face it. Some people are simply not inclined to make their repairs. This does not mean, however, that they can’t save money. It’s for these people that a locksmith is usually the best idea for replacing a key. Calling a locksmith won’t, admittedly, cost you less than doing the work yourself, but if you want to save both time and money, a locksmith will probably be your best bet. You should also consider that the cost of a locksmith will usually be significantly less than a dealer, even if he does charge you more for a service call.
Obviously, a locksmith knows what he’s doing, and since more cars are coming equipped with programmable keys and fobs, most locksmiths have been trained to work with them. It’s also important to note that if a locksmith has to come to your home or office to make a key, they usually have a miniature version of their shop in their truck or van and can make your key while you wait. This is another significant cost savings. Not only will locksmiths cost you less because they are in that business and nothing else, but locksmiths are usually the best deal when time is of the essence. There is also less chance of damage to your car since the car does not need to be towed to a dealership for the work to be done. The locksmith will usually come to wherever the car is located to get the job done. Another benefit of a locksmith is that they are normally available 24/7.
Better Safe Than Sorry
There’s no avoiding the fact that the keys used on modern cars are expensive to replace. Just as is the case with many other things in life, the best defense against lost keys is to get a spare key made when you have the time to do it. It’s when you don’t have a key or the time to deal with it that it’s called an emergency and it will cost you a premium to get the problem resolved.
Finally, if you are one of those kinds of people who like to tempt fate by having only one set of keys, consider this: if you lose your keys, and you need to get your car towed to a dealership for service, it can cost you more than $1,000 to replace the locks on your car. The choice is yours to make.