If you’ve lost your car key or the fob stopped working, you are stranded until you get a new key for the vehicle. Sadly, this process isn’t as simple as you might think. First, you have to figure out where to get car keys made and then you must follow through on the steps.
There’s always the option to call a locksmith. Your local car dealer would have the replacement keys too. Otherwise, reach out to a local auto parts store or hardware store. If you have some time to wait, you can order a new key from a retailer online.
In this guide, we review the ways to get new car keys made. We also show you the cost you can expect to pay.
Places to Get Car Keys Made
The locksmith might be the most expensive option on the list, but it can also be the fastest, depending on the type of car you drive. If your vehicle is older, the locksmith will be able to easily replicate the key.
It’s with the newer models that the process becomes hairy. You may need to have a locksmith and dealer work on the key if it needs programming.
2. Car Dealer
With a newer vehicle, it might be better to cut out the locksmith entirely and go right to the dealer. After all, they will need to program the new key anyway.
Call your local dealership and provide them with the VIN. They will be able to cut the key and program the key fob in record time.
3. Auto Parts Store
Many people don’t know that the local auto parts store can cut keys. This is a great option if you just need the metal key and it doesn’t have any special features to it.
While the auto parts store might be able to supply some specialty keys, you may still need to visit the dealership for programming. If you are going there anyway, you might as well get your key there too.
4. Hardware Store
Many hardware stores can replicate the service given by the auto dealer. Their qualified staff can cut keys.
Plus, some of the hardware stores, such as Ace Hardware, have specialized equipment to program keys. In some cases, you might avoid a trip to the dealership.
5. Online Retailer
If you are looking to get a duplicate key and aren’t in a hurry, visiting an online platform might save you a lot of money. Even places such as Amazon sell car keys.
You can order the key and have it shipped right to your home. This way, you only have to take it somewhere for programming when it arrives.
Cost to Replace Car Key
1. Metal Car Key
The old, traditional metal key is by far the easiest to replace. These mechanical keys don’t require any form of programming.
Therefore, you can simply have one copied. Plan to spend anywhere from $3 to $10 for a metal key. However, if you need something for a classic car, you could pay more.
2. VATS Key
The Vehicle Anti-Theft System (VATS) key operates like a mechanical key. However, it contains a resistor inside of it. Thankfully, the resistor value is set upfront, so there’s no programming required.
However, your new key must match the same value to work properly. Expect to pay closer to $25 to have a VATS key made.
3. Transponder Key
If the car key contains a chip inside of it, it’s called a transponder key. With these keys, you have extra programming costs to factor in. This key must be programmed or the vehicle will not recognize it and you won’t be able to start the engine.
Some locksmiths can program the transponder key. You will likely spend $50 to $100 for this service. However, if you have a Chrysler key, you might spend more since this automaker requires a unique code for programming.
3. Laser Cut Key
A laser-cut key doesn’t have any traditional cuts on the side of the metal. Instead, cuts are made into the metal, but they don’t go all the way through. It appears as a wavy groove in the key.
To create a laser-cut key, expensive machinery is needed. These can also take a little longer to produce. The average cost depends on what kind of key it is and where you have to go to find someone with the equipment.
4. Car Key with Remote
The car and remote key combo work in conjunction, so both need to be replaced if they are lost. You could spend anywhere from $10 to $100, depending on the type of car you drive.
However, some vehicles will still operate without the remote. Temporarily, you might be able to use a traditional key to unlock/lock doors and start the engine.
5. Key Fob
If you have keyless start or a proximity key, you might visit the local dealer to get your replacement quickly. At the dealer, you can call ahead with the VIN and they can have the key fob waiting for you.
However, you are going to pay more for these replacement keys. Many of them cost between $50 and $400, depending on your car model.
Can I Program A Car Key Myself And Save Money?
Depending on our manufacturer, you might be able to program the car key yourself. You can find this information out by doing a quick search online for your car make/model along with programming the key. If there is the capability to do it yourself, you will find someone showing you how to do it online.
You can also get instructions from the manufacturer. In many cases, you will need to have at least one working key to self-program a new one. So, this option might not work if you have lost the key.
What To Do If Car Keys are Lost
1. Double-Check Your Area
Before you do anything else, you want to make sure the key is actually lost. After all, there’s no sense putting yourself through this trouble if the key is simply misplaced.
Retrace your steps to see if you might have dropped or misplaced the keys. If you find the keys, you can avoid the other steps. Otherwise, move on through our guide.
2. Find Your Car’s VIN
To get a replicated key, you will need the vehicle identification number (VIN). You can find this 17-digit number and letter combination in several places on your vehicle.
It’s on a tag at the bottom of your windshield, closer to the dashboard. You can also find it on the vehicle engine. Otherwise, it can be found on the rear wheel well, inside the trunk, on a label found on the driver’s side door jam and on your insurance cards. It’s also helpful to know the year, make and model of your vehicle.
3. Call Locksmith/Dealer
Your final step is to figure out where to get the new car key. We reviewed your options above and shown you the various costs. If you choose a locksmith, you can save yourself some time as many of these professionals will come to you.
The locksmith can easily handle the simple car key. If you have an older or basic vehicle type, the locksmith will be able to help quickly. There are also automotive locksmiths that can work with the most sophisticated types of car keys. Professional locksmiths have advanced equipment that can deal with side-milled keys, as well as the programming needed for your transponder keys.
There is one time when the locksmith might have a problem. If the key is etched with a specific code, it’s often difficult to replicate. In these cases, it might be better to turn to your local dealership. However, most people will start by calling a locksmith to see what can be offered.
If you have a luxury car or one with sophisticated technology, the dealership will be your only option. You can call the service or parts department to have a new key created. If they can’t create the key for some reason, they can order it from the original vehicle manufacturer. Obviously, this option would be the most expensive and take the longest, but it’s rarely the case.
When working with most dealerships, you should be able to call ahead of time and pick up the key a little later.
4. Put Replacement Key in Safe Place
After you go through all the trouble of getting a new car key made, you want to ensure it remains safe. When you get home at the end of the day, put your car keys in the same place, so you always know where they are. Also, make sure you keep your keys close to you when in a public place, so they don’t get lost.