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To Key or not to Key: Locksmith or Dealer?

Updated on October 4, 2010

Did you know a locksmith can replace your car lock cheaper than a dealer?

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Do you know how much more expensive it is to have an automobile dealer in Lansing Michigan replace a car key versus a Lansing Locksmith? Some dealerships charge $200 or more to replace a transponder key (keys from newer cars). This is a common issue across the United States. The expense is not from cutting the car key, which only costs a dollar or two in parts and labor. Much of the cost comes from the electronic chip in your vehicle's key itself. If you have a perfectly cut key without the correct programming for the chip, you can put it in the ignition and turn the car key and NOTHING WILL HAPPEN. Your car won't start. The dealer will charge you a marked up price for the transponder chip as well as a higher base pay to cover the salary of the worker. This cost gets passed on to YOU the consumer.

Shouldn’t you get a discount for bringing your car to THEM? A better option is to buy your replacement car keys from a locksmith. A locksmith will use the same equipment as a dealership but will charge up to half the price to replace your key. Many Locksmiths will even come to you. The most important part of getting your car key replaced is making sure the chip inside the key is programmed properly. Always test your new key before leaving the locksmith or as soon as you get home with your new car key. Contact the locksmith immediately if you have any problems unlocking the door or starting the car. If the car does not start it may mean there was a problem with the programming or even the cutting of the key and you will need to get the replacement car key replaced again. The sooner you contact the locksmith the greater your chances are for resolving the problem.

Transponder Key Programming

Programming a transponder key on site.
Programming a transponder key on site. | Source

Make sure you buy your replacement key from a reputable dealership or locksmith (see the tips on choosing a locksmith who is reputable). It is possible to order a replacement online but make sure you do your research. Check online reviews of locksmiths you have in mind to obtain your keys from. When you buy replacement keys for your car it is like shopping for anything else. Call around and get prices from multiple dealers and locksmiths. Find the best price from the most reputable company and you are likely to find a replacement car key at a great price. It is critical to provide the make, model, and VIN number of the vehicle to the person programming your keys. Authenticate the reliability of the locksmith company before you give important or private information to program the keys for your vehicle. The Federal government has issued warnings about locksmith frauds and you may find yourself subject to a scam if you are not careful.


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      Sergio Freddson 3 years ago

      I had no idea that a locksmith could replace your car lock at all. I assumed that you would have to take the car in to a dealer to have it done. I remember my buddy in college needed to have his car lock replaced but delayed it for a long time because he assumed he wouldn't be able to get it done anywhere other than the dealership. This would have been good to know! Great hub though, voted up.

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      Mike Cozer 3 years ago

      I agree with this article and feel it is great value to know.

      Kansas City Locksmith

    • locktolock profile image

      lock tolock 3 years ago from 125 mansell pl 30076

      locksmith in atlanta

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      jesileanaa 3 years ago

      I have a 2003 dodge stratus and I don't have my main key I bought my car with so I looked online and I found a key without logo and it came to $17.99 and its saying I have to get the key cut how do I go about that

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      William 4 years ago

      Great article! Very true.

      Edmonton Locksmith -

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      Mr. Smith 5 years ago

      Residential, Commercial, Automotive and Emergency locksmith services in Boston.

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      Mr. Smith 5 years ago

      Residential, Commercial, Automotive and Emergency locksmith services in Boston (

    • sunsetsoon profile image

      sunsetsoon 7 years ago from Fort Mill SC

      we are her in Fort Mill also provides Locksmith service and i agree with what you wrote in the article

    • Lansing-Locksmith profile image

      Lansing-Locksmith 7 years ago from Lansing, Michigan

      Tell a story of getting locked out of your car.