Anybody that owns a car knows that car keys have an annoying habit of getting lost. In the old days, there was a solution to this sort of thing: go to your local hardware store and get bunch of spare keys made up. Today, it’s not quite so easy because backup keys aren’t just a couple of dollars anymore, in fact they are most likely a couple of hundred dollars. What you need is a good “Lost Key Strategy” and this depends on what kind of key you have.
The typical car key, which was common up until the mid-1990s, has no security feature other than its unique shape. The shank, the key’s long metal part, has cuts and grooves like a house key. A locksmith does not need any extra equipment, he can use the same key replicating machine he uses to cut other keys. A basic key will cost $2-$3 to cut because they are so easy to copy.
Electronic Key Fobs
On many modern-day cars, an electronic key fob (also known as a “key remote”) is an important part of the key set. The process of getting a copy of an electronic key fob is similar to that of cloning TV remote controls. The cost of replacing an electronic fob may range from $50-$100, depending on the key’s make. You can beat the cost by purchasing a universal fob ( for $25+) and use your existing factory fob to program it.
The shanks of sidewinder keys are quite different from the old sculpted-composition of a simple key. The shank almost always has deep slots engraved into it and is thicker. The machines needed to cut these keys are more expensive than standard key-cutting machines, so they are not as likely to be found at all hardware stores or locksmiths. You can usually get sidewinder keys from a factory authorized dealer.
After the late-1990s, key makers started putting a “transponder chip” in the key’s plastic head. The chip emits a signal to the “immobilizer” receiver in an ignition. If this immobilizer circuitry detects that the wrong key has been placed in the ignition, the vehicle will not start. All dealerships have the necessary machines to program this sort of key but they are expensive, often $150 or so.
Smart Fobs are plastic fobs that you use to open your car doors and start the engine by just pressing a button. Smart Fobs function like keys, however, not like shank-styled keys in the traditional sense. A smart fob’s main form of security is its ability to make use of rolling security codes. The system randomizes the right code and prevents thieves from hacking it through the use of devices called “code grabbers.” Smart Fobs are items that have to be purchased from factory dealerships and can be $200 or more.
A Suggested Strategy for You
As we have seen, modern car keys are expensive so the best defense against losing them is a great offense: get a spare key now! Consider this: if you would like to see what “really expensive” means, lose your keys when you are out of town and then get your car hauled away to a factory dealer to have a set of electronic keys made. This could cost you $500-$800 and a couple of days of your time. Take our advice, get a replacement key or smart fob on your own terms now and have it ready in case Murphy’s Law hits.
Article Source: Holt Fiat of Hurst