The car keys you carry in your pocket or purse today are a far cry from the keys your parents carried. By comparison, the keys you have are technological “miracles” compared to the keys made up until the early 1990s. They are great deterrents and a physical defense against auto theft but that security can come with a hefty cost if you lose them.
Improved Security At An Increased Price
Everyone has lost or misplaced their keys at least once in a lifetime and that trend is not likely to change as long as it takes keys to open and start cars. What’s changed over the past 25 years is you can no longer run down to the local hardware store and have another one cut for $1.00.
Today the keys “communicate” with the ignition and the devices that allow that communication are high tech and expensive. That’s a combination that means getting a key requires going to a trained locksmith or dealership that has the equipment, skills and programs to make a duplicate.
And that cannot be done for $1.00.
What makes car keys so expensive?
The “shank” on an old style car key was no different than your house key. It was just a piece of metal with easily reproduced cuts. The keys of today involve more than a shank and in one case, the smart key; there is no shank at all. These “add ons” to the shank are what cost.
Electronic Key Fob
This is one of the most common combinations and the fob is an integral part of the key set. If you lose it you cannot start your car. Replacement fobs will vary in price but even after you have one it needs to be programmed for your specific car. Dealers might do this for free but more likely they will charge an hour of labor ($80 – $100) and they’ll get to it when they have a chance (they are not in the locksmith business). You’re better off going to a locksmith.
Or…you can buy the fob from a locksmith and program the fob yourself. This involves pushing buttons on the fob and turning the key in the ignition. On some brands the instructions will be in the owner’s manual otherwise you’ll have to search the net for the “how to.”
A transponder key has a chip embedded in the plastic head of the key. This chip sends a programmed signal to the “immobilizer” that controls the ignition. If a key is inserted that does not have the correct program (or no program) the immobilizer will not recognize it as a key authorized to start the car.
Pretty slick technology but it also means that a replacement requires reprogramming a chip. The good news is this can be done by mobile emergency locksmiths on site to expedite getting you back into your car.
What are Smart Keys?
These aren’t keys in the traditional sense. They unlock and start your car remotely using a random programmed signal. If you lose one of these you’ll not have a choice but to go to the dealer and they will charge anywhere from $220 to $400.
Losing your keys is not a “planned event.” When you discover you’ve lost your keys and you can’t get into your car…is when you want to get in your car and go someplace…usually in a hurry.
When it happens you have 2 choices. Call a mobile locksmith or call a tow truck and have your car towed to the dealer (this may cost as much as the replacement key).
There is a way to save the expense and inconvenience of lost keys and that’s to invest in a spare pair today. Even if you don’t keep them on you, it may be less expensive to cab home or to the office and back than get emergency roadside service or a tow to the dealer.
Give us a call at ABC Lock and Key and we’ll be happy to quote a price and delivery time.