Why New Vehicle Keys Cost So Much To Duplicate

Posted on

One of the most common reasons why people go to a locksmith is to have a car key duplicated. Sometimes another person in the household needs a key; sometimes owners want to have a spare available just in case. But getting a duplicate car or truck key made can often result in sticker shock, especially for owners of newer vehicles.

Key Features That Cost to Copy

Car keys since the late 1990s have incorporated anti-theft features that make them more difficult to copy. The one you might hear about is the transponder key, which contains a chip that must communicate with a receiver in the ignition in order to start the car. That means you can't just take your key to a hardware store to cut another. A new transponder key has to be programmed to fit the vehicle and can cost as much as $200–$250 to duplicate or replace.

Some newer keys also need to be cut with lasers rather than traditional key cutting machines. Sometimes called sidewinder keys, the laser keys require expensive equipment to duplicate. The laser key blanks typically have a transponder chip included; your locksmith can cut and then program the key for you.

You'll also need an additional key fob; that's the little pad that automatically opens your doors. These also need to be programmed, but most automotive locksmiths have blank fobs that they can configure to work with your vehicle.

Tips for Saving Money

You may not need an additional ignition key. If you decide to have a second key made just to let you gain access to the vehicle in case you lock yourself out, you can have a regular key cut without the transponder. This will only cost a few dollars and can give you peace of mind. If you lose your keys, though, you'll need to have a new transponder key coded and may also have to pay for the cost of the locksmith to come to your location.

It may also be possible for you to program a new fob by yourself. Some owners' manuals contain instructions for resetting or creating a new key fob. For the more technically advanced, you may also be able to find information online for how to reprogram a transponder key -- it depends on the age and model of your vehicle.

Finally, it may be possible for you to purchase a replacement key online and have your locksmith assist with the reprogramming. However, it's generally much faster to find a locksmith who specializes in automotive keys and has a blank available immediately.

The good news is that going to a locksmith to have your car keys duplicated is actually less costly than getting the same service at a dealership. Dealership costs to duplicate keys can run up to $500–$600. Visit a locksmith like Suburban Lock today to get your key replaced.