Smart Keys

Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to go digging through your pockets or through your purse in order to find the car keys? Especially if its raining outside, you can’t find your keys and all you want to do is jump into your car before you are soaking wet; what a leisure that would be. Luckily for car owners, its a convenience that is available today. While its availability is not currently standard in vehicles, more and more manufacturers are incorporating these types of systems into their cars. These are commonly referred to as “Smart Key” systems. Smart key systems will vary from vehicle to vehicle, but they all have the same underlying principle behind their use; consumer convenience.

Features

Smart keys are usually in use among higher-end luxury vehicles. The pioneer of these smart keys was Mercedes Benz with its use of its “Keyless Go”. This system

Push button ignition switch

allowed Mercedes owners to keep their key fobs in their pockets when unlocking their vehicles. When approaching, receivers within the body of the vehicle pick up that the key fob is nearby and unlocks the door. The same principle applies when wanting to start the engine. When the car senses the key fob inside the vehicle the driver can simply push a button to start the vehicle without putting any key in the ignition.

Other manufacturer’s systems have adopted much of the same functionality, though each has its differences and their own signature features. Another common feature is a smart key with the ability to memorize a user’s comfort settings, with the settings corresponding to each users own smart key. This includes external mirror tilts, steering wheel placement, and positioning of the drivers seat and floor pedals.

Probably one of the most compelling additions to a smart key’s repertoire is a users ability to program the vehicle to perform a series of functions from the push of a button. For instance, imagine you are inside your home brewing yourself a cup of coffee. You realize that you should probably start the car and give it time to warm up the cabin so that you’re comfortable on your drive to work. So you reach for your key fob, push the engine start button, and the car cycles on the heat as you programmed it to do after remote start. You just sip on your coffee as you continue to wake up and get ready for the day.

While these sleek features may peak the interest of any car consumer, don’t get too excited as you can’t have them all. These advanced smart key systems are not fluid among manufacturers, as each system has its own unique set of features it offers.

Security

Smart keys aren’t just for the consumers convenience, but also the security and safety of the vehicle. Instead of key fobs that send out one consistent unique code to match the car, smart keys use rolling codes. This technology makes it so that car thieves using devices to pick up your key fobs unique code are no longer enough to get into your car. The vehicle picks a random code each time the unlock button is pressed and then the smart key produces the correct code on its end. The use of rolling codes goes far to keep your car secure. While there is no way to guarantee a vehicles security in the long run, you can safely bet that car producers will continue to implement new security features.

Smart keys can control a lot of your vehicle, making it even more important to keep your keys accounted for than before. But now there is the added need to keep your smart key’s battery charged. Thankfully most of these keys will notify you of a low battery, whether its through your vehicles console LCD screen or a low battery LED light on the fob. But in case you don’t heed the low battery warning, smart keys will have a mechanical key inside the smart key fob. This way you can start the vehicle even if your smart key is dead.

What about smart key replacement?

Getting a smart key replaced is a lot costlier than an ordinary key, even if that ordinary key has a transponder chip in it. Many of these manufacturers systems are proprietary, and most auto locksmiths wouldn’t have the capability to replace a smart key. A vehicle owner equipped with a smart key will have to go through the dealership, and will have to pay the full price that accompanies.

An Overview Of Car Key Replacement Costs

With the added difficulty of replacing contemporary car keys, there is a larger cost burden to the consumer. We can’t go to our local hardware store and get a key blank for our car and have it cut for us. There are additional steps involved, several

Free photo courtesy of freestockphotos.com

inquiries to make, and more money to fork over. To make it a little easier we are going to give you a small overview on the cost of replacing your car key, and where you can hope to find the cheapest price. The prices we list below will be approximated dealership prices. We will be adding a more comprehensive list as we conduct more inquiries with dealerships and locksmiths.

The Key

The first thing that you will be paying for is the key itself. There are several things

VW Laser Cut Key

associated with the purchase of the key that can make it more expensive. First is it a transponder key or just your standard chip-less key? Just about all modern vehicles have transponder keys now. This can add anywhere from $50-$100 to the price of they key, and this doesn’t usually include labor for programming which will be a half hour to an hour.

The Key Fob

This purchase could actually be incorporated into the key purchase as it could be a key in key fob combination.  However the key fob will approximate $80-$100 for its replacement but again it depends on the make and model of your vehicle. A good rule of thumb is the more sophisticated the key &/or key fob the more expensive it will be to replace.

Laser Cut Keys

It used to be a real pain to get these keys replaced, as you had no other choice but to go through a qualified dealer. However nowadays laser cut keys are becoming more and more popular, and with that there has been an increasing amount of capable locksmiths able to perform the necessary cutting for them. However laser cut keys will still be more expensive, as they are incorporated with transponder chips that also need to be programmed. You can expect these keys to cost at least $150-$200 before programming.

In addition to laser cut keys, if they are a part of an all-in-one switchblade set up with a key fob, you can plan on paying up to $300 after programming. Remember, these are prices you will likely find with the dealer.

Smart Keys

These will be the most difficult and the most expensive to replace. More than likely you won’t find a locksmith that will be able to do the programming necessary for you and will have to go to the dealer. The sophistication of these keys can vary wildly so depending on your vehicle, you could pay anywhere from $200 to $400

Tips for getting a better price

First check out a reputable online retailer and see if they can sell you a key blank or key fob that matches your vehicle. Some of these retailers offer cutting services Free Photo Courtesy of freestockphotos.comas well. If you’re able to find a good online retailer that can provide you with the right key you can save in excess of 25%-30% right there. Programming the key will still need to be done, however in some instances you can find programming instructions for your vehicle. If you’re able to do this then you can save an additional $50-$100 (labor rates * half our/hour).

Next check with auto locksmiths. You likely won’t find one that is as cheap as an online retailer, but they won’t charge you as much as the dealership and they are very capable of doing the cutting & programming of your new set of keys for you.

Overview

Replacing your vehicle’s keys can have a high price as they become more sophisticated. Remember that the features of your key will determine the price of its replacement. Be sure to shop around as you have numerous options available to you. These professionals are anxious to do business with you and it will have them competing against each other to get you the best price.

Hopefully this has been a benefit to you as you go along your search for replacement car keys. While new information becomes available to us we will continue to revise our price estimations, as we will continue to inquire with dealerships & auto locksmiths for quotes about specific makes and models. Also feel free to share your experience with us as you can help others in their search.

Car Key Replacement – The How To


Introduction – 
You Lost Em

So you just lost your car keys huh? You’re probably feeling a little troubled by the fact that you’re not able to just hop in your car and drive off to your heart’s content. Instead you’re surfing the internet looking for the quickest and cheapest way to get yourself back on the road in your own automobile. Its not always easy to filter through all the search results, trying to get reliable information once you’ve lost your car keys. That is why I have written this “how to” article, to take you from the scene of the problem (losing your keys), to the solution of having a replacement set right in your hands. (I’ve had to do the search myself).

The Problem

Automobile keys have gotten a lot more sophisticated over the years. It isn’t nearly as quick or as painless to get a replacement set anymore. You’ve got transponder chips to take into account, and more than likely you previously had a key-less entry system that you’d also like to replace. And once you’ve got the right style key equipped with a transponder chip, and you’ve found a suitable key-less entry you’d be happy with, you’ve still got to get both programmed right to your vehicle in order for them to function. It used to be that you were able to go down to the local hardware store or locksmith and were able to find the correct key blank for your vehicle and get it cut for $10. Now you’re lucky if you don’t have to special order it from the manufacturer for over $100, and that’s before programming the key.

To make matters just slightly more difficult you still have several options to research if you want to find the best deal. The most assured way to spend a lot of money, is to go exclusively through the dealership that sold you the car. We’ll talk about the alternatives later on, but for now you’re already well on your way to a replacement set of keys just for continuing to reading through this guide.

Doing Your Homework

There are some steps that you need to take in order to ensure that you are able to get a new set of keys quickly and effectively. We’ll go through each step in more detail, but here is the summarized list in the proper order, for your convenience.

  1. Gather your vehicles information
  2. Have proof of ownership handy
  3. Check online retailers
  4. Check local car locksmiths
  5. Check local dealership

Steps 3-5 are ordered by the cost that you may incur by choosing that outlet for getting your keys replaced. Now lets go over each step in detail.

Step 1 – Gathering your vehicles information

This is the most basic step involved. All you really need to get from your vehicle is it’s VIN number.  Your vehicle’s VIN is usually located on the drivers side dash, and is visible by peering through at the base of the windshield from the outside. If you are not able to locate the VIN there, then it may be stamped on the side of your vehicles engine. Now by looking up your VIN you can find a lot of useful information about your vehicle including the year, make, and model. Check out our VIN Decoder Page to look up your vehicle by its VIN, provided by DecodeThis.

Step 2 – Have proof of ownership handy

This may be necessary in order for a locksmith or dealership to agree to cut or program a replacement key for your automobile. Your vehicles registration should suffice for this, as well as a valid drivers license. If the vehicle is not registered in your name but rather a parent or guardian, you may have to get them to get the car key replaced for you. It may be a hassle but it keeps people from making unauthorized keys for your vehicle.

Step 3 – Check online retailers

Online retailers can be very useful for car key replacements if you are able to find a reputable company. Amazon and EBay in particular make finding a trusted seller easy with the use of customer reviews. Online retailers outside those avenues might not be quite as easy. Some ways you can check their reputation and authenticity are to ask for any references they might have or see if they have testimonials. You might also check with the Better Business Bureau and see if they have decent reviews and ample history of doing business.

Online retailers will usually provide the best prices for you to buy your vehicle’s key blank, and some even offer the key cutting service. But since the company will not be in close proximity to your vehicle you will still have to program the key once you have it in your possession. Some online purchases may come with instructions on how to do this programming yourself.This is another consideration when deciding whether or not to go with a retailer online.

Lastly, if you only have one set of keys it may be a good idea to get a key cut from an online retailer. This is because a key that is not programmed to your vehicle can still unlock the car if it is cut to the right specifications, and an online retailer will likely beat a local locksmith in terms of price.

Step 4 – Check with local car locksmiths

A local car locksmith will usually have a lot of the same cutting machinery that a dealership would have keys. The exception to this may be if you have a laser cut key, as the machinery required for these keys are much more expensive. To be sure call the business up and ask them if they are able to replace a key for your automobiles year, make and model. A skilled locksmith may also have the know-how to program the key transponder as well as your key-less entry remote.

Another consideration when looking for a local locksmith is if they offer mobile services. If they do you won’t need to have your vehicle towed to the locksmiths place of business, which will only add the cost of replacing your car keys. In terms of price a local locksmith will almost always be a safer bet than the dealership.

Step 5 – Check with your local dealership

If you weren’t able to get a replacement car key before you reached this step then you’re going to have to pay full price for losing your keys. The dealership is your last hope for getting your key replaced. If they aren’t able to do it then it gets a lot more expensive as you will have to change out your automobile’s locks. Most likely this won’t be the case because if the dealership doesn’t have your needed key blank on hand they can usually order it & have it cut by the manufacturer. You could also still be able to find the key blank online and just have the dealership program it for you.

An additional downside to the dealership replacing your key is the vehicle will need to be towed to the dealership. Dealerships don’t provide a mobile service and they will need the vehicle in order to program the key. However this won’t hurt your wallet too bad if you have AAA services or if your insurance covers vehicle towing.

While dealerships are a more expensive route to go, they are likely going to be the most successful at getting you the car key replacement you need. As a quick guideline, the more sophisticated the key the more difficult and expensive it will be to replace. With older automobiles you may still be able to hit your local hardware store and get a proper replacement cut for $10 if you know what key blank you need. For cutting and programming at a dealership you’re looking at a figure closer to $200+.

Summary

So there you have it, your guide to finding yourself a replacement car key. If you do your homework and check out all your different options, you’ll be back on the road in no time without too much hassle and without excessive emptying of your pockets. If you have any feedback you can be sure to reach My Car Key Replacement at our contact page.