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The High Cost of Losing Your Keys

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited September 2017 in Editorial
imageThe High Cost of Losing Your Keys

Advances in key technology have made vehicles more difficult to steal, but the price has been costlier key replacements.

Read the full story here


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    diltpdiltp Member Posts: 1
    Compliments on the article, it's more accurate than most that I see on the net. Regarding Smart Keys only being available at the dealerships, that is not accurate. My locksmith company, and many others are able to supply and electonically pair the smart keys to late model vehicles. In most cases, it will be at a significantly lower price as well. Check your locksmith first!
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    qesdunnqesdunn Member Posts: 1
    The Infiniti dealership in Albuquerque charges $400 to replace a lost key. The cost of purchasing an Infiniti key FOB through Thailand is $8. The least expensive the key FOB can be purchased in the United States is $48. The key FOB can NOT be programmed for the 2006 and newer cars by Locksmiths, and must be done at a dealer.

    Infiniti is a good car, really. But one cost to maintain the car is $400 for a key, versus $25 for a key for a FORD or other American vehicle.

    My suggestion, to compensate for the cost of the ramped up prices of the dealership, take your car AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE to a "reputable" mechanic. This should save you a great deal of money over what it costs to pay for Infinity Dealer rip-offs when you have no other reasonable choices.


    In addition to these tips, ALWAYS have the mechanic provide in writing that they will provide you with the old parts for anything they need to replace. If they need the old part as a core to get a replacement part, then inspect the core before it is exchanged to get the new part. Unethical mechanics often claim replacing parts but do not actually replace them.

    Anything a mechanic says to make you nervous about a marginal item, should require you to get a second opinion. Example: Ford Ranger clutch master cylinder leaking and needed replacement. Mechanic said flywheel had scratches and clutch needed replacement. 125,000 miles later the clutch is still working fine. The last Ford Ranger was at 450,000 miles when I finally sold it; and I still see it occasionally.

    So far in the form of oil changes, interior upholstery repair, routine checks, tires, flushing the fluid systems... I've "saved" $3,100 by using my mechanic and his referrals instead of accepting the estimates provided by the dealership. Dedicate a small notebook to keep precise tracking of expenses, you'll really be surprised what you find are wastes of money.

    Because of Infiniti Dealership practices, avoid the dealership.

    Would I ever buy another Infiniti; yes. But not from a US Infiniti Dealership. My next Infinity is being imported through an online broker.
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    tcliff33tcliff33 Member Posts: 1
    edited February 2015
    Excellent advice about being careful with your keys! Note, however, that many locksmiths have been doing these kinds of key replacements at a much lower cost to consumers. The Society of Professional Locksmiths has endorsed "KeyNET" which is a nationwide automotive key supply and programming network using professional locksmiths. The locksmith industry has been providing automotive key origination, replacement, and programming for years but for some reason, consumers remain widely unaware that they do NOT have to go to a car dealer for these services. [non-permissible content removed]
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    cherrykr1987cherrykr1987 Member Posts: 1
    Here's something to add to the potential problems if you lose your key: apparently a new laser cut key is just like a brand new one- and it wont necessarily fit the wear and tear in the ignition cylinder that your old key did- so you have to have your ignition cylinder replaced. This lost key ordeal has cost us almost $1000. That is RIDICULOUS. What are the odds of your car getting stolen, really? And what are the odds of you losing a key?! A lot higher than it getting stolen. It's just another way to make money. Security be damned, if the car gets stolen it's got insurance, but insurance covers none of this key fiasco.
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    hoverkinghoverking Member Posts: 1
    diltp has a great point! My company is one of the few companies in the country that can make most BMW keys. Also Mercedes-Benz keys frequently need the dealer for replacement, however, there are a few locksmiths I know personally that have the equipment to make these keys. Not every city has a locksmith who has the equipment to work on Mercedes-Benz. The cost for replacing keys is still higher than average, but the convenience of not having to tow the car makes it worth it.

    A good locksmith will always try to help you out, no matter what situation you're in!
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    fred184fred184 Member Posts: 1
    Well, it looks to me like a scam. I thought proprietary technologies like described above are not legal, they violate various anti-trust, and anti-monopoly laws etc. Assorted arguments that the keys contain advanced electronic technologies is a baloney. You can get a decent laptop, or a pad for, $300. It will have a touch screen, Wi-Fi, operating system, word processor, CD burner etc, etc. In comparison, the spare key is no more complicated than a TV remote, and should not cost more that $10. It is just a plain monopoly that makes these outrageous prices possible. I urge all the readers to write to the Federal Trade Commission, to make sure it does not happen anymore.
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    elizabeth78elizabeth78 Member Posts: 1
    Great article, its a sad reality that the dealership does not tell you. Losing your keys will keep you stranded and out of pocket really quick.
    New solutions are emerging that actually replace your car keys with a smartphone based system that creates a digital key foot print on you BCM computer inside your vehicle. This way you can send keys digitally to your whole family as well as track usage. AAA said they should be available by 2015 in most dealerships as an aftermarket add-on.
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    komatosekomatose Member Posts: 1
    edited January 2015
    We lost our key and had a spare [only one] i took the spare to the hardware store and the guy found the correct blank key and put my spare key into a little key holder that replicates the chip inside the new blank key ,,very similar to copying a cd or dvd. This software copies the chip inside the working key and reproduces it on the blank. Then the physical cut is done on a key maker like all keys need. We walked over to my car and it opened the door and then it started the car.The cost was $83.00 Us. Then i got a new remote to open the locks blow the horn and open the trunk.. Now i am back in business with two working keys and two new remotes,, i never went near the dealer,,,,,,you can do this too ,,,my car is a Mercury Sable 2003
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    warmbeerwarmbeer Member Posts: 1
    Does anyone know if the chip has to be in a certain position in order for the key to work? I got just one key for a used T&C Minivan i just bought and I am wondering if I can attach that working key to the steering column near the ignition and buy just the key shank to operate the car. I would cut off the shank from the fob so a thief would not be able to steal the car if they break in but i would be able to purchase multiple keys for just a few dollars so they would all work with the single attached chip. Anyone know if that might work?
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    b_a_slackerb_a_slacker Member Posts: 1
    edited December 2015
    The prices on modern keys is terribly inflated. Yes, they have basic compounds of a basic key plus extra electronics but those electronics are cheap. To help people understand just how cheap, let's correct some of the marketing terminology.
    The "transponders" are RFID tags and those are cheap. A military, defense application RFID tag runs up to about $5 (they are probably using RFID tags that are closer to $0.09 a unit). The remote for the locks, about $5 as well.
    The "laser" cut keys are not cut by lasers, they are cut by high speed milling machines. They are a bit more complicated than than standard key that you can get made for $3, about $5-6 worth made. So we are at about $15 for a modern key. Multiple that by 2 and that should be around the retail price for a key $30. Given that I'm seeing non-manufacturer versions on Amazon for less than $30, my estimate is generous.
    As for the labor for programming the car to accept the key's RFID and cut the key, the technical skills are pretty low as the tech just enters the codes into the system and the system does the rest. Takes about 10 minutes or less and does not really need a train automotive technician.
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    steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    If you signed up to our forums just to spam a link for a locksmith, don't bother. We delete spam.
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    steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    "Odds are good that when you search Google for someone to help you get into your home or car, results will include poorly trained subcontractors who will squeeze you for cash."

    Fake Online Locksmiths May Be Out to Pick Your Pocket, Too (New York Times)
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    txtmblweedtxtmblweed Member Posts: 1
    Terrific accurate article. I just went through this with my 2004 Honda Accord. First of all, there are usually two programming steps, one for the keyless entry (easily done by an owner at home), and the mandatory Immobilizer programming done through the ODB2 port using an Immobilizer programmer to program up to three keys in the car computer. My local locksmith charged $90 to cut and program three Immobilizer equipped key chips. I programmed the keyless entry for all three keys myself. Yes, you must have all three keys present for both programming steps. :-)
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    guyowenguyowen Member Posts: 1
    Keep in mind that AAA and maybe your Insurance Company will reimburse at least a partial amount toward lost key replacements. AAA reimbursed $150 of my $350 bill from a local locksmith to replace the keys and keyfob for my 2014 Dodge Durango Citadel. Of course, three weeks later, I found my "missing" backup set in a drawer where they did not belong. :-)
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