When you've lost your car keys, you are stranded until you can get them replaced. But where can you get new car keys made? It's not always as simple as heading down to your local hardware store to have a new key cut. Today's electronic car key fobs have unlocked a variety of convenient, yet sometimes pricy, key replacement options. We've researched to find out where you can go for a new set of keys.
Depending on the type of car key you need to replace, there are several locations to get a new key made:
- Automotive Locksmith
- Automotive Dealership
- OEM Parts Dealer
- Automotive Store
- Hardware Store
- Aftermarket Sellers Online
Basic ignition keys of pre-1981 vehicles can be replaced at a locksmith, hardware store, or automotive store. Complex electronic key fobs can be replaced by an automotive locksmith, automotive dealership, or OEM parts dealer.
Keep reading to learn about different types of car keys and electronic car key fobs. We'll tell you where you can replace and program each type and the approximate cost so you'll always have a ready spare.
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Car Key Made?
Car keys are no longer the simplistic, basic-cut, or laser-cut ignition keys of the ’80s and ’90s. Ignition keys are affordable to replace or copy for roughly $3 to $7 at most locksmiths, hardware stores, or automotive stores. Today’s electronic car key fobs, however, can be an expensive replacement depending on the automaker and complexity of the key fob.
Types of Car Key Fobs
With high-tech key fobs housing transponders and transmitter chips, it might be hard to believe that the word “fob” has been used for centuries. During the 1800s, when we carried pocket watches instead of car keys, the term “fob” referred to a small, ornamental charm that adorned a watch chain. Modern-day key fobs now adorn our keychains, and we keep these necessary little gadgets handy.
But, if your car key fob breaks, is lost, or is stolen, can you program a car key yourself? Merely replacing the fob can be expensive and then, an additional cost is added to program the fob for it to communicate with your car. We’ve done our research to learn that when it comes to programming fobs, the key is knowing what kind of fob your vehicle needs.
Remote Key Fob
Separate from your car’s ignition key, a remote key fob uses a transmitter to communicate with your vehicle when you press a button. You typically use a remote key fob to lock/unlock your car’s doors, open the trunk, or to enable a remote-start feature. If the remote key fob is malfunctioning or lost, you can program this type of fob.
Reprogramming a Malfunctioning Remote Key Fob
First, replace the battery. You can purchase a remote key fob battery at most hardware stores, automotive stores, and on Amazon. Check the owner’s manual to determine the type of battery and to find instructions on how to remove/replace the battery.
Reprogram the fob. Check the owner’s manual or online instructions to reprogram your car’s remote key fob. Usually, a combination of turns on the ignition key and button presses on the fob does the trick. Alternatively, most dealerships and locksmiths will reprogram a remote key fob at a minimal cost for labor.
Replacing and Programming a Lost Remote Key Fob
Purchase a new remote key fob either at the dealership or from an aftermarket seller such as a local hardware store, an automotive store, a locksmith, and on Amazon.
The cost to replace a remote key fob varies significantly from $35 or less to $200 depending on the complexity of the fob and the automaker. Make certain the fob is compatible with your car before your purchase.
Program the new remote key fob by following a series of turns on the ignition key combined with button presses on the fob. Check the owner’s manual or online to find specific instructions for your car’s remote key fob alternatively, if you’ve purchased the fob at a dealership they tend to program the fob for free. You can also take the new fob to a locksmith to program the fob for a minimal cost.
Flip Key or Switchblade Key Fob
This single unit fob has a basic-cut or laser-cut ignition key shank that folds into the fob. If the ignition key shank is damaged, you can get a replacement key shank without the need to replace the fob. However, if the fob is malfunctioning or the entire unit is lost, you’ll need a new fob. You cannot program a flip key fob yourself.
To replace a flip key fob, it costs between $80 to $400 or more depending on the complexity of the key fob and the automaker. This cost includes the programming fee by either a dealership or locksmith.
Transponder Key Fob
A transponder key fob is one unit with an ignition key shank (basic-cut or laser-cut) at one end and fob at the other. It looks like a typical car key. If the fob is malfunctioning or the unit is lost, you cannot program this type of key fob yourself. The transponder communicates with your car via a chip that must be programmed by a dealership or locksmith.
The cost to replace a transponder key fob ranges between $15 to $200 depending on the complexity of the unit and the automaker. You can purchase a new transponder key fob at the dealership or from an aftermarket seller such as a local hardware store, automotive store, locksmith, and Amazon. To program a transponder key fob can cost between $50 to $80 at a dealership or locksmith.
Keyless Entry or Smart Key Fob
Ultra-modern keyless entry or “smart key” fobs rely on a sophisticated system of rolling security codes to communicate with your car’s computer. Vehicles with keyless entry fobs do not require the use of an ignition key. Instead, the car’s computer must recognize the keyless entry fob’s code to lock/unlock the doors and start the car. Keyless entry, although not entirely theft-proof, is an extremely secure system.
Because the keyless entry fob only needs to be in the proximity of the car to be activated, most owners keep the fob in their jacket pocket, purse, or briefcase. So, keyless entry fobs can easily be misplaced. You must replace and program a keyless entry fob at a dealership or OEM parts dealer. The cost of replacement varies from $200 to $600, depending on the automaker, and includes programming.
Car Key Made Without the Original?
Yes! You can have a new car key made even if you don’t have the original key. If your car key was lost or stolen, an experienced automotive locksmith can replicate and program a key. The dealership can also replicate and program a key; however, it will be more costly than a locksmith.
You’ll need to know your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and the make/model/year of the car. The locksmith or dealership will require you to provide proof of ownership, typically the car’s registration or title. Tell the locksmith or dealership if you believe your key was stolen so the car can be programmed to no longer respond to the old key.
Do Car Dealerships Have to Give You Two Keys?
If you are buying a new car at a dealership, usually, the dealership will provide two keys. However, if you are purchasing a used car at a dealership, it is not required for the dealer to provide you two keys.
Used cars do not always have a spare key, for several reasons:
- The previous owner did not provide two keys.
- The spare key had been lost.
- The car had been repossessed, and only one key was purchased during the car’s recovery.
It is essential to ask the dealer about a spare key before signing a purchase agreement for a used car. You might need to negotiate to add a spare key. But, make sure that including a spare key has been written into your purchase agreement before you sign or put down a deposit for a used car.
Does Insurance Cover Key Replacement?
Most auto insurance policies do not cover the cost of replacing a lost key. But, some policies do offer key replacement coverage as an add-on. You should check with your insurance provider about your specific policy to know for sure.
If you have a roadside assistance policy, it could cover the cost of emergency service so that you are not stranded. But, it’s likely that coverage will not cover the cost of a key replacement. Check your policy for details.
Stolen car keys are treated differently, and might be covered by comprehensive insurance policies under theft. Contact your insurance provider if your car keys were stolen to determine whether you should file a claim for the replacement cost.
Does AAA Cover Key Replacement?
Add-on Lock & Key Service provides up to $50 toward parts and labor to render a vehicle operational. This coverage may include the cost of the key replacement. Coverage may vary by region, so refer to AAA directly for details regarding your membership benefits.
Can AAA Start a Car Without Keys?
The membership manual for AAA’s Emergency Roadside Service states that Locksmith/Lockout assistance will be provided or reimbursed for up to $50 (AAA Plus members receive up to $100). Whether your keys are lost, broken, or locked inside your car, AAA will send someone to help you so you will not be stranded.
If your vehicle cannot be driven after an attempt has been made, AAA’s Emergency Roadside Service also provides towing. Coverage may vary by region, so refer to AAA directly for details regarding your membership benefits.
Does AutoZone Make Car Keys?
AutoZone sells blank automotive keys that are compatible with BMW, Mercedes, Honda, Volvo, Kia, Mazda, Toyota, and Chrysler, among others. Blank key prices range from $3 to $6, and AutoZone can cut and copy keys for your car.
AutoZone also sells remote key fobs and transponder key fobs ranging in price from $15 to $90. Some of the AutoZone’s key fobs can be programmed for you using an On-Board Programming system but, the ability to program does vary depending on the automaker. You might still need to visit a dealership or locksmith to program your new car key fob.
Does Home Depot Make Car Keys?
Home Depot sells blank and universal automotive keys that are compatible with GM, Jeep, Mazda, Honda, Ford, Toyota, and Nissan, among others. Automotive keys range in price from $3 to $6. Home Depot can cut or copy keys using an automated machine. However, Home Depot does not provide transponder key fob chips or program electronic car key fobs.