Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Cars and car keys are now a massive part of everyone's daily lives. However, there will be a time when keys begin to wear down or you leave them somewhere, never to find them again. In events like these, you have to replace your car keys completely. If this is your first time losing your keys, should you get a replacement key from your locksmith, or should you go to the dealer? Which option is cheaper? Don't worry, because we have enlisted the help of expert locksmiths, and they have given direct answers.
As it turns out, a locksmith can replace traditional keys with or without the original. In addition, locksmiths nowadays are equipped with the knowledge and the tools to replace and reprogram transponder keys. A locksmith's services can save you up to $30 or more compared to your dealership; however, the pricing may vary depending on the complexity of the key replacement process.
Will they need your identification? Who else can make replacement keys? Continue reading to learn more about these and replacing your car key!
How A Locksmith Replaces A Car Key
Before heading to your nearest trusted locksmith, you should first learn about the basics and the replacement process itself.
The Basics of Car Locks, Keys, And Auto Locksmiths
In recent years, cars and car keys have become more advanced. In the years prior to the 1980s, car keys were made entirely of metal. In the early 2000s, transponder keys became the norm.
Transponder keys have plastic tops containing microchips. These microchips send out a signal that a computer inside your ignition cylinder will receive. If the digital serial number from the signal does not match the ignition's, the car won't start. The transponder adds a level of protection compared to traditional metal keys.
When you're looking to replace your car keys, you have to look for an auto locksmith. Each locksmith has their own field of expertise, and it is essential to approach the right person for the job. Typical locksmiths may be equipped to duplicate your traditional house and car keys, but they cannot program a new transponder for you.
Replacing Car Keys With The Original Present
If you have the original traditional key, a locksmith can easily make a duplicate using a machine and a blank key. Key cutting and duplicating a common key takes around 2 to 10 minutes.
For transponder keys, creating a duplicate is easy if you have the original. They can create a duplicate of the metal key in 2 to 10 minutes and then copy the programming of the microchip in the transponder. Getting a copy of the programming can take 5 to 10 minutes, and programming can take up to 30 minutes, depending on the complexity.
Replacing Car Keys Without The Original
Before an auto locksmith can replace your car keys without the original present, they must first find out your car's make, model, and production year. Auto locksmiths usually have a blank key ready for traditional car keys, especially for older models, so they can easily cut a duplicate for you on the spot.
However, crafting a transponder key from scratch is no easy task. Cutting and shaping the metal part of the transponder key is manageable, but programming the proper signal makes the process more difficult. Locksmiths can program a transponder in around 30 minutes, but some microchips need to be ordered from the dealers or manufacturers themselves. This ordering process can take a few days and will add up to the cost of the service.
If your transponder key is stolen or lost, you can ask auto locksmiths to program you a new key and reprogram the ignition. This process could come at a higher price but would render the lost and stolen key useless. However, auto locksmiths will need proof of ownership before beginning the reprogramming process to ensure that the car is yours.
How Much Does It Cost To Make A Car Key?
A locksmith can charge around $4 to $10 for a traditional car key duplication with the original present. Without the original, a traditional car key replacement will cost anywhere from $10 to $30.
Duplicating a transponder key with the original present can cost you anywhere from $20 to $30. Without the original key, a replacement for transponder keys can cost up to $120. If the microchip needs to be ordered first from the dealership, you will need to shoulder the price of the chip and the delivery.
However, when it comes to replacing or duplicating car keys, you can save money if you go to an auto locksmith compared to a dealership. Going to a locksmith will cost you $30 or less when it comes to key replacement.
How Do I Provide Proof Of Ownership To A Locksmith?
Auto locksmiths are more than willing to help you get a new car key, but they have to ensure that the car is yours. Locksmiths will ask for your personal identification, especially your driver's license. They will also need your registration or title, vehicle identification number (VIN), and key identification number.
Your VIN can be found on the side of your door or on a metal plate on your driver's side dashboard. You can find your key identification number in your car manual. Your KIN makes it easier for auto locksmiths to replace your transponder key.
Can AAA Make A New Car Key?
The American Automobile Association (AAA) is a non-profit organization that provides insurance, auto loans, and other services to its members. The organization itself does not make new car keys, but they contract state-licensed locksmithing companies to create replacement keys for their members. AAA members can get approximately $100 (or more, depending on their membership level) to cover key replacement and duplication expenses.
Does Autozone Make Spare Keys?
Autozone can sell you blank automotive keys for up to $10 and can also cut and copy a spare for you. You can also buy transponder key fobs from Autozone, ranging from $15 to $90. These prices increase if the car key replacement requires ordering transponder microchips directly from dealers.
Can A Locksmith Replace An Ignition Switch?
Aside from making car key replacements, auto locksmiths can also replace ignition switches. You can find the ignition switch in the ignition cylinder where you insert your keys. Sometimes, the ignition cylinder itself has issues. Examples of ignition switch issues are failures to start the car and breaking the key while inside the cylinder. Luckily, auto locksmiths can repair and replace those, too.
Ignition switches and cylinders are very specific to the model and brand of the car, so replacing them could take days due to delivery. The actual repair and replacement process takes only 20 minutes.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace An Ignition Switch?
Replacing an ignition switch and cylinder can cost you anywhere from $125 to $275. The price depends on the model of your car and the additional delivery fees. However, these prices already include installation fees.
Breaking or losing a car key is an inconvenience. Not only does losing your keys render your car unusable, but it also puts your vehicle at risk of being stolen. Thankfully, auto locksmiths can help with that. Most auto locksmiths are equipped with the right tools to replace anything related to your car's locks, from traditional and transponder keys to ignition switches. Auto locksmiths recommend that you get a duplicate car key before you need it. This way, you can avoid any additional towing costs and all the hassle that comes with replacements.