autohitch logo
The True Cost of Replacing Lost Car Keys and Key Fobs

Lost Car Keys Replacement Cost

The True Cost of Replacing Lost Car Keys

With the advancement of technology in modern vehicles, replacing lost keys has become more complex and costly than in the past.

Related Article: Where To Get a Key Made by Vin Number

To save you time, I did some extensive research on replacement key costs and Locksmith replacement key costs and provided the details below.

Lost Car Keys Replacement Cost – (By Type)

Key TypeDescriptionApproximate Replacement Cost
Traditional Metal KeysBasic keys without electronic components.$5 – $25
Transponder Keys (Chip Keys)Keys with a transponder chip for added security.$100 – $300
Remote Key FobsKeys with a remote control for keyless entry, etc.$150 – $500
Smart Keys (Proximity Keys)Advanced keys for keyless unlock and start.$500+
Key Types and Approximate Replacement Costs

The cost of replacing lost car keys largely depends on the type of key your vehicle uses. Here are the most common key types and their approximate replacement costs:

  1. Traditional Metal Keys: These basic keys are typically the least expensive to replace, with costs ranging from $5 to $25 for a new key and duplication.
  2. Transponder Keys (Chip Keys): These keys contain a transponder chip that communicates with your vehicle’s immobilizer system for added security. Replacing a this type of key can cost anywhere from $100 to $300, including programming and labor costs.
  3. Remote Key Fobs: In addition to a transponder chip, these keys feature a remote control for keyless entry and other functions. Replacement costs can range from $150 to $500, depending on the complexity of the key fob and the programming required.
  4. Smart Keys (Proximity Keys): These advanced keys use radio frequencies to communicate with your vehicle, allowing you to unlock and start the car without physically inserting the key. Smart key replacement costs can reach $500 or more due to their sophisticated technology.

It’s important to note that these costs are approximate and can vary based on your vehicle’s make, model, and year, as well as the specific locksmith or dealership you choose.

How Much Does it Cost to Program a Key Fob at a Dealership?

Programming a key fob at a dealership typically costs between $100 to $250 or more.

Obviously, this price will vary based on the vehicle’s make and model, dealership, and location.

Note that this cost does not include the key fob itself, which can add several hundred dollars to the total.

Key Points:

  • Dealerships may charge $150+ for key-and-fob combos.
  • Some dealers quote up to $250 or more for programming alone.
  • Additional fees can be quoted, such as $20 to $130 for programming on top of $400+ for the fob.
  • A specific example I found showed a Ford dealer quoting $300 for a new key fob and programming.
  • For high-end vehicles like a 2020 BMW X5, costs of around $500 have been quoted for replacement and programming.

Alternative: Locksmiths are often significantly cheaper for key fob programming compared to dealerships.

Locksmith Prices for Lost Car Key Replacement

When it comes to replacing lost car keys, you have two main options: visiting a dealership or hiring a locksmith. While dealerships are often more expensive, locksmiths can provide a cost-effective alternative. Here’s what you can expect in terms of locksmith prices:

Key TypeService DescriptionApproximate Cost
Traditional Metal KeysKey blank and labor included.$50 – $150
Transponder KeysKey, programming, and labor included.$100 – $300
Remote Key FobReplacement and programming included.$150 – $400
Smart KeyReplacement and programming of advanced keys.$300 – $600+
Locksmith Prices for Lost Car Key Replacement
  1. Basic Key Replacement: For traditional metal keys, locksmiths typically charge between $50 and $150, including the cost of the key blank and labor.
  2. Transponder Key Replacement: Locksmiths can replace transponder keys for $100 to $300, which includes the cost of the key, programming, and labor.
  3. Remote Key Fob Replacement: Depending on the complexity of the key fob, locksmiths may charge anywhere from $150 to $400 for replacement and programming.
  4. Smart Key Replacement: Due to the advanced technology involved, locksmiths may charge $300 to $600 or more for replacing and programming smart keys.

It’s worth noting that locksmith prices can vary based on your location, the time of day (after-hours service may cost more), and the specific locksmith you choose.

Additionally, some mobile locksmiths may charge additional fees for services like on-site programming or towing your vehicle to their shop.

The Best Places To Get Replacement Keys and Key Fobs

Key TypePlaceDescription
Older Regular Keys
Hardware Stores (e.g., Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe’s)Can cut duplicate keys for basic metal keys on-site.
LocksmithsLocal shops can cut and make new copies of basic keys.
Key Copying Kiosks (e.g., Walmart, Kroger)Have self-service key copying kiosks for basic keys.
Modern Transponder Keys/Key Fobs
DealershipsCan cut, program and replace keys and fobs, usually at a higher cost.
Automotive LocksmithsHave equipment to cut and program keys/fobs for less than dealers.
Auto Parts Stores (e.g., AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts)Can cut and program a variety of keys/fobs on-site for a reasonable price.
Hardware StoresSome locations can cut and program transponder keys/fobs.
Mobile Services (e.g., KeyMe)Kiosks and mobile vans that can produce transponder keys/fobs.
Online Services (e.g., transponder keys/fobs online and have them programmed at the store.
Where to get replacement keys and key fobs

Can you program a key without going to the dealership?

Yes, in many cases, you can program a key fob yourself without going to the dealership. The process varies depending on the make and model of your vehicle, but here are some general steps to follow:

  1. Purchase a compatible key fob: Ensure that you buy a key fob that is compatible with your vehicle’s make, model, and year, and be wary of cheap knock offs on sites like Amazon.
  2. Access programming mode: Enter your vehicle and close all doors. Insert your existing key into the ignition and turn it to the “On” position (without starting the engine) a specified number of times, usually three to five times, within a certain time frame (e.g., 10 seconds).
  3. Press key fob buttons: After entering programming mode, press and hold the “Lock” and “Unlock” buttons on your new key fob simultaneously for a few seconds. The hazard lights may flash to confirm successful programming.
  4. Test the new key fob: Exit programming mode by turning the ignition to the “Off” position and removing the key. Test your newly programmed key fob to ensure it locks and unlocks your vehicle.

However, some vehicles, particularly newer models with advanced security features, may require special equipment or software only available at dealerships. In such cases, an auto locksmith might be a more cost-effective alternative to the dealership.

Does Car Insurance Cover Lost Keys?

There is really no specific “car key replacement insurance” offered by major auto insurance companies.

However, some insurers may provide limited coverage for replacing lost or stolen car keys under certain circumstances:

Comprehensive Coverage

A few insurers, like American Family Insurance, may cover the cost of replacing car keys or key fobs if they are damaged or stolen in an incident covered by your comprehensive auto insurance policy.

This could include situations like:

  • Your keys are stolen along with your vehicle
  • Your keys are damaged in a covered event like a fire or collision

However, your deductible would apply, so it may not be worth filing a claim unless the key replacement cost exceeds your deductible amount.

Homeowners/Renters Insurance

Your homeowners or renters insurance personal property coverage may help pay to replace stolen car keys, but again, you’d likely have to pay your deductible.

Specialty Key Replacement Plans

Some dealerships may offer optional “key replacement protection plans” that you can purchase when buying a new vehicle. These plans specifically cover the costs of replacing keys, key fobs, and re-keying the vehicle if your keys are lost or stolen.

Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance plans through your auto insurer or a third party can dispatch a locksmith to help if you’re locked out, but they generally don’t cover the full cost of replacing lost keys

Factors Affecting Car Key Replacement Costs

Beyond the key type, several other factors can influence the overall cost of replacing lost car keys:

  1. Availability of Spare Keys: If you have a spare key, the replacement cost will be significantly lower as the locksmith or dealership can simply duplicate the existing key.
  2. Vehicle Make and Model: Luxury and high-end vehicles often have more sophisticated key systems, resulting in higher replacement costs.
  3. Programming Requirements: Some vehicles require specialized programming equipment or software, which can increase labor costs.
  4. Towing Costs: If you’re unable to drive your vehicle to the locksmith or dealership, you may need to factor in towing costs, which can range from $50 to $200 or more, depending on the distance.
  5. Proof of Ownership: Dealerships and some locksmiths may require proof of ownership, such as the vehicle’s registration or title, before replacing lost keys.

Tips for Minimizing Car Key Replacement Costs

While losing your car keys can be a costly inconvenience, there are a few strategies you can employ to minimize the financial impact:

TipDescriptionPotential Savings
Keep Spare KeysAvoid full replacement costs by duplicating a spare.High
Consider Roadside AssistanceSome plans cover locksmith services.High
Shop AroundCompare quotes from different providers.Moderate to High
Opt for Aftermarket KeysSometimes cheaper than dealership keys.Moderate
Maintain Key FobsRegular battery replacement can prevent issues.Low to Moderate
Tips for Minimizing Car Key Replacement Costs
  1. Keep Spare Keys: Always have at least one spare key on hand to avoid the full replacement cost if you lose your primary set.
  2. Consider Roadside Assistance: Many roadside assistance plans cover locksmith services, which can significantly reduce or eliminate the cost of replacing lost keys.
  3. Shop Around: Get quotes from multiple locksmiths and dealerships to find the most competitive pricing in your area.
  4. Opt for Aftermarket Keys: In some cases, aftermarket keys can be a more affordable alternative to dealership-issued keys, but be sure to verify compatibility and quality.
  5. Maintain Key Fobs: Replace the batteries in your key fobs regularly to prevent issues that may require costly replacements.

Sources For This Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Picture of Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.


Share on.

Table of Contents