How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Car Key?

Last Updated on September 22, 2021

Losing a car key can be an expensive mistake.

It costs $50 to $100 to replace a basic chipped car key. However, the price of replacing a car key rises to $100-$300 for more advanced transponder keys. On luxury models with keyless entry systems, it could cost up to $500 to replace a car key.

How much does it cost to replace a car key? Will insurance cover the cost of replacing a car key? Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about the cost of replacing a car key.How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Car Key

Table of Contents:

Car Key Replacement Costs Anywhere from $5 to $500 Per Key

Car key replacement costs vary widely. Depending on your vehicle and the type of key being made, you could pay anywhere from $5 to $500 to replace your car key.

Here’s a rough estimate of pricing:

Mechanical Keys ($5 to $25): Older vehicles use basic mechanical keys. These keys have no transponders, chips, or other advanced technology. They use a simple mechanical key to open the door and start the ignition. If you need to replace a mechanical key for your older vehicle, then you can expect to pay as little as $5 to $15. On classic cars with unique or rare locks, however, you could pay as much as $25.

Typical Valet Key ($30 to $50): It typically costs $30 to $50 to replace a basic valet key. The key might look as straightforward as a metal house key, which normally costs $5 to $15 to make. However, even valet keys have chips in the keys to allow the vehicle to start. Without the chip, the vehicle will not start.

Standard Vehicle Key ($75 to $150): All modern vehicles require a chipped key. The key might look like a basic metal key, but it has a chip inside to prevent the alarm from being triggered. These keys can cost anywhere from $30 to $100 to replace.

Transponder Key ($100 to $300): It costs $100 to $300 to replace a typical transponder key. Most modern vehicles use transponder keys that allow you to remotely lock and unlock the vehicles. On luxury vehicles, you could pay up to $500 to replace a transponder key.

Keyless Fobs ($300 to $600): It costs $300 to $600 (or more) to replace a keyless fob. If your vehicle uses a keyless system for access, then you can expect to pay a premium to replace this type of key.

Car Fob Programming Costs

After paying to replace your key fob, you need to pay to reprogram the fob.

Some car dealerships will program your new key fob for free. Others charge $50 to $100 to reprogram your key fob.

You may be able to program your key fob yourself. Check your vehicle’s owner manual or look online. With the right combination of button presses on the remote and key turns in the ignition, you may be able to match your new key fob to your vehicle.

How Transponder Keys Work

Since the 1990s, car manufacturers have used transponder keys for vehicles.

Your key might look like a basic metal key with a plastic handle. However, there’s a chip in the plastic head of the car key. Without that chip, you can’t start the car.

The chip is a transponder. It sends a signal to a receiver in the ignition. If you put your key into the ignition but the receiver does not detect the signal, then the vehicle will not start.

After cutting a new key for your vehicle, you need to program the chip inside the head of the key. Any car dealership can do this for you. It may be free, or they might charge money. Alternatively, all auto locksmiths have a machine to program your transponder key.

How Laser Cut Keys Work

There are basic car keys and there are laser-cut car keys.

If you have a laser-cut car key, then the locksmith needs a higher-end machine to cut the key. Laser-cut machines are more expensive than standard key cutting machines.

Every locksmith and hardware store has a standard key cutting machine. However, not all businesses will have a laser cutting machine.

Laser-cut keys, like basic car keys, have built-in transponder chips that need to be programmed.

Expect to pay around $200 to $300 for a replacement laser cut key, including the replacement key and programming costs.

Replacing a Keyless Entry Fob

Some vehicles don’t use keys. They have keyless entry systems. Also known as smart keys, these key fobs use wireless technology to activate your vehicle. Some smart keys remain in your pocket while the vehicle is in operation. With others, you place the key in a specific part of your dash.

If you need to replace a keyless entry system, then you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $500.

Typically, keyless entry fobs are associated with higher-end vehicles. Mercedes-Benz was one of the first car companies to use keyless entry systems (they were also the first automaker to use the term ‘smart key’). Expect to pay a premium to replace a keyless entry fob on a Mercedes-Benz or any other high-end vehicle.

Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Car Key Replacement?

It’s possible your insurance company will cover the cost of replacing your car key. Check your policy for clarification.

Some insurance companies cover the whole or partial cost of replacing a key fob.

Alternatively, car key replacement may be covered by your car’s warranty, roadside assistance coverage, an extended warranty, a bumper-to-bumper warranty, or a similar policy.

Some dealerships could also give you one free key replacement on new vehicles. If you lose your key once, the dealership covers it. If you lose your key again, you pay out of pocket.

Check your policy to verify if you need to pay for car key replacement out of pocket – or if it’s covered by insurance or a warranty.

FAQs About Car Key Replacement

Q: Where do I replace my car key?

A: You can replace your car key at your car dealership or at an auto locksmith in your area.

Q: How much does it cost to replace a car key?

A: It could cost as little as $50 to replace a basic chipped key or as much as $500 to replace a higher-end keyless entry system. The cost of replacing a car key varies widely between car models and businesses. Expect to pay more to replace a car key at a dealership than you would at a local auto locksmith.

Q: Who pays for car key replacement?

A: Your insurance policy or warranty may cover car key replacement. Check your documentation to verify coverage. If your policy does not mention car key replacement, then you’ll need to pay for car key replacement out of pocket.

Q: Does insurance cover car key replacement?

A: Insurance may cover car key replacement. Check your policy to verify if your insurer wholly or partially covers car key replacement.

Q: What factors impact car key replacement costs?

A: The value of the vehicle, the style of the key, and the technology within the key all impact car key replacement costs.

Final Word on Car Key Replacement Cost

You can buy a replacement car key at a dealership. Typically, a replacement car key costs somewhere between $75 and $250, depending on your vehicle. However, an auto locksmith may be able to charge a cheaper price.

Contact your dealership or check with auto locksmiths in your area to determine the cost of replacing your car key. The more advanced the key is, and the more valuable your vehicle is, the more expensive it will be to replace your car key.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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