Why Car Keys Are Getting More Expensive to Replace

Why Car Keys Are Getting More Expensive to Replace

Posted on December 17, 2020 by A-1

Everything is getting more expensive these days. It’s getting to the point where you almost have to take out a second mortgage to afford the latest smartphone. While it’s true that some things get cheaper as technology advances, the same can’t be said for essentials like car keys. 

Automotive security technology has advanced tremendously in recent years. With this comes a rise in costs for manufacturing. Let’s take a look at why it’s so expensive to replace your car keys these days.

Types of Car Keys

First, it should be noted that not all car keys are expensive to replace. You can get a basic key duplicated or replaced for as low as $50 many places. The cost really depends on the type of car key and the brand. The more advanced the key (or car company), the higher the cost. Here is a basic overview of the different types of car keys you’ll find today, in order of how expensive they tend to be (including rough cost estimates):

  • Mechanical keys: basic keys used in older car models, or to access the door or trunk only. These are the cheapest to duplicate and replace.
  • Programmable remotes: not really keys; they’re buttons that you use to lock your car, unlock your car, sound the alarm and/or open the trunk. These are typically comparable to the price of mechanical keys.
  • Transponder keys: the most common car keys you’ll see out there, these keys have electronic components in the head that communicate with the car to confirm that the key is valid. Due to added complexity, these are a tier up in cost from mechanical keys.
  • Laser-cut transponder keys: transponder keys with a bit of extra security. Extra security equals extra complexity so these are the next tier up in terms of cost.
  • Remote/key combos: aka switchblade key; a combination remote and key. Given the dual functions of these devices the cost rises a tier for duplication or replacement.
  • Proximity FOBs: remote-like devices that can start the car or unlock the doors when you’re near the vehicle. While all of these options can range greatly in price for different makes and models proximity FOBs have the greatest variance across vehicles. Your best option here is to get a quote for your vehicle specifically.

Factors in Car Key Cost

As you can see above, the cost for auto keys goes up with its technology. Basic keys and fobs don’t feature advanced mechanics and can be duplicated with relatively simple machines or tools. Modern keys feature advanced transmitters, codes and programming, which leads to a higher cost because they take more time to duplicate and the actual hardware is more expensive. Finally, if you’re dealing with a luxury car brand, expect higher costs as a result.

Best Way to Replace Car Keys

A bigger cost than all of these options is if you lose all copies of your car keys. In that case, you might need to replace the locks, which can easily run you $1,000 or more. Your best bet is to ensure you have multiple copies of your keys and backups of them as well. You also should consider using a professional auto locksmith instead of going to a dealership, as you’ll be able to get an affordable product that’s still high-quality. (Just think twice before going to KeyMe or a similar key-cutting solution, which you can’t do anyway if you’re dealing with an advanced key.)

If you’re in need of new car keys, we’ll work with you to provide a solution that’s both useful and affordable. Contact us today for a consultation.

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