You can’t go anywhere without your car keys, but if you lose a modern car key, you will need to find
a locksmith who knows how to handle transponders and key fobs. Learn about how locksmiths
program car keys, provide replacement car keys, and more.
Table of Contents
What Do Locksmiths Use to Program Car Keys?
If you have replaced your car keys or you have purchased a universal key fob for your vehicle, you
will likely need to visit an automotive locksmith to program your car keys for you. The programming
tools used by locksmiths can match the software in the key to the software in your vehicle when the
transponder signals are synced.
The software used to program your car keys relies on computer tokens to program new keys. The
software can add unique key tokens to the car system, although the number of keys allowed for
each vehicle will depend on the make and model of the vehicle. The limited number of unique keys
for each car system is the reason why smart keys and FOBs are safe options for car keys, since the
key must be programmed to a specific vehicle to work.
Exploring Different Car Keys
If you need replacement car keys, then you will first need to understand the type of key you have.
These days, most cars come with transponder keys or keys that are made with a programmable
remote to control automatic locks and car alarms. More recently, key FOBs and proximity FOBs have
grown popular, especially for vehicles that have push-to-start ignitions.
How Much Are Replacement Car Keys?
The cost of replacing car keys will depend on the sophistication of the key. For older car models that
use basic keys, replacing a key may only cost $10, whereas replacing and programming a
transponder key can cost around $160.
Key FOB replacements may cost anywhere from $50 to $100 based on whether or not you still have
access to the metal or transponder key. Replacing a smart key can cost over $200 and may require
towing if you do not have a backup key for the vehicle, such as a traditional metal key. That said, you
do not need to have the original key to make a replacement key.
Is It Better to Go to a Locksmith?
When you need to replace your keys, you may have the option of going to your dealership for a
replacement set. However, many drivers prefer visiting an automotive locksmith because a
locksmith is a more affordable way to replace lost or missing keys. It’s also cheaper to visit a
locksmith to make backup keys for your vehicle, even if you have transponder keys or smart keys.
Whether you’ve lost your car keys or you simply want to have a copy made as a backup option, it’s a
good idea to visit an automotive locksmith. A locksmith uses key programming technology and
unique tokens to sync your new key to your vehicle. Locksmiths are generally more affordable than