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Getting Spare Car Keys

Updated on May 30, 2017

So you lost your car keys? Be prepared to pay good money for a replacement.

15 years ago when I knew nothing about car keys I thought these items cost, well $1, $2 perhaps? And I was partially right. First, the implementation of security systems like transponder, chip, RFID, was not widely spread through all car makes and models. Secondly, I already had a key, so getting a spare key was only a matter of going to any locksmith with the capabilities of coping keys. It did in fact cost me about a buck to get a spare key back then. That was no longer the case 4 years later when I lost my Ford F-250 key.

The replacement of this car key cost me an outstanding $253. This is when my research on the matter begun.

Through my work as a mechanic, I have established good relationships with reputable locksmith companies. Here is some good information I have learned and hope helps you find the best solution that works for you:

It is better to prevent than cure

The cost of a replacement car key is usually way higher than a spare car key (when you actually have one working key and you just need a copy).

Get a second key now. If you lose the only one you have, a new car key costs in average about double because it is more difficult for a locksmith to get the bitting or cutting specs for your vehicle.

A good place to get spare car keys is by calling your local auto locksmith. Specialized locksmiths have a greater selection of transponder, VATS, PATS, and laser car keys. They use the VIN# or key code to make the car keys.

Know your key code

What is a key code? A key code is a number or string of characters that tells special machinery how to cut a key. Each car key has its own unique key code. Having the key code will save you money when using the services of a locksmith because it facilitates their job.

Save the number now as all car makers have limits of how far back in years they have key codes saved in their systems making it impossible for you to find it once your car reaches certain age.

Having a key code will typically save you between $15 and $30 per spare key but it can save you more than that.

Cut Transponder Car Key

Spare car key made
Spare car key made

Not all keys are made the same

The world of spare car keys is full of variety. Getting keys made for 2 cars of the same year and of the same make does not necessarily mean they will cost the same. Ask a locksmith or a dealership on-line or on the phone if the key for your auto needs to be programmed, if it uses VATS, transponder, PATS, chip, etc. and how much it costs. Buying on-line or with a local locksmith is usually the way to go, you get the same key and is usually cheaper.

Computer issues

Another aspect of replacing car keys that has changed the business in the past decade is computers that have to be programmed for the new keys to work or even when they have no keys at all. If your vehicle is in need of reprogramming, get quotes from both dealers and locksmiths. Only some specialized locksmiths can re-program auto computers but they tend to be cheaper if they can do it. Some autos can only be programmed by the dealer unfortunately.


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    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      What? I had no idea it could cost so much to have new car keys made. Your tips are highly valued and I am going to take your advice about jotting down my key code just in case I need it.

    • C_Pinto profile image

      C_Pinto 7 years ago from USA

      Yes, you could save so much just by having a spare...

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 7 years ago from U.K.

      $253! Thats astrinomical! Thank's for sharing this, good advise and a warning worth heeding. :)

    • Part-time Writer profile image

      Part-time Writer 7 years ago from Way Up North (USA)

      Locking your keys in the car can be expensive too, especially if you don't have a handy spare set. Great advice.

    • Steve R McDowell profile image

      Steve R McDowell 7 years ago from Atlanta

      I had no idea you could order spare car keys online! That's great to know!

    • C_Pinto profile image

      C_Pinto 7 years ago from USA

      You're welcome. Glad it helped you

    • profile image

      Ryan H 7 years ago

      Thanks for the great info man. I'll make sure to get my spare key very soon!