Losing Your Car Keys Could Cost Hundreds of Dollars, Cautions Edmunds.com

Losing Your Car Keys Could Cost Hundreds of Dollars, Cautions Edmunds.com

Losing Your Car Keys Could Cost Hundreds of Dollars, Cautions Edmunds.com

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — March 31, 2011 — While advanced key technology has made new cars more difficult to steal, losing those keys could cost you hundreds of dollars according to a new report by Edmunds.com entitled "The High Cost of Losing Your Keys".

"In the last 20 years, car keys have evolved from common metal keys with cuts and grooves to laser-cut, remote control and transponder technology," said Edmunds.com Consumer Advice Reporter Ronald Montoya. "Replacing these keys can be very expensive, but there are ways that car owners can keep that cost to a minimum."

Based on quotes solicited in the Los Angeles area, Edmunds.com priced the costs of replacing the most common key technologies on the market:

  • Basic Keys and Fob — A basic metal key will cost $3 at a locksmith or $12 at a dealership. But the accompanying fob — which is the remote that is often used to lock and unlock the car and pop the trunk — can cost between $50 and $90. All fobs need to be programmed, and while some dealerships will do it for free, others will tack on an additional charge for labor. Most fobs, though, can be programmed by car owners themselves with a combination of button presses on the remote and key turns in the ignition, as described in the car's owner's manual.
  • Transponder Keys — These keys include a transponder chip that must be programmed. The price for a transponder key on a late-model Ford F-150 was quoted to Edmunds.com at $160 plus $75 for the fob. Car owners can save money by having a locksmith cut an "emergency" transponder key and use directions in the owner's manual to get it programmed.
  • Laser-Cut Keys — These keys are thicker than basic keys and have fewer carved-out grooves. They also have built-in transponder chips that need to be programmed. Because many locksmiths don't have laser-cutting machines, these keys most often need to be replaced and programmed at a dealership. Costs can range from $150 to $250, including labor.
  • Switchblade Keys — With a shank that folds into the fob when not in use, the advantage to switchblade keys is that the components can be purchased separately. So if only the shank is damaged, you can buy a new one for $60 to $90. But if you need to replace both the key and the fob, the cost lands somewhere between $200 and $300.
  • Smart Keys — These are the fobs that only need to be in or near the car to recognize a code emitted by the vehicle before the driver starts the ignition with the press of a button. Only a dealership can replace and program a smart key. Edmunds.com found that the cost of replacing and reprogramming a smart key ranged from $220 for a Nissan Altima up to $400 on an Acura RL.

To avoid the stress and extra money of having to replace keys in an emergency, Edmunds.com recommends that drivers always have a set of spare keys available. A driver who loses all existing keys to the car may have to shell out as much as $1,000 to replace the locks on the vehicle.

For more money-saving tips on replacing your keys, read "The High Cost of Losing Your Keys" on Edmunds.com at http://www.edmunds.com/car-care/the-high-cost-of-losing-your-keys.html.

About Edmunds (http://www.edmunds.com/help/about/index.html)

Edmunds publishes Web sites that empower, engage and educate automotive consumers, enthusiasts and insiders. Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, launched in 1995 as the first automotive information Web site and hosts the most established automotive community online. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.edmunds.com, makes car pricing and other research tools available for car shoppers at dealerships and otherwise on the go. InsideLine.com is the most-read automotive enthusiast Web site. Its mobile site, accessible from any smartphone at www.insideline.com, features the wireless Web's highest quality car photos and videos. AutoObserver.com provides insightful automotive industry commentary and analysis. Edmunds is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit. Follow Edmunds.com on Twitter@edmunds and fan Edmunds.com on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/edmunds.

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