Money saving tips before you replace an expensive key fob
TORONTO -- Old fashioned car keys made it a lot easier to cut a new set, but with newer high tech fobs if you have to replace a fob it could cost you hundreds of dollars.
Before you replace a fob, there are a few things you should try to see if you’re current fob is still functioning and depending on your vehicle you may also be able to get an aftermarket fob a lot cheaper.
“The cost to replace the latest key fobs can cost as much as $400 or more depending on the brand. Then add another $20 to $130 to program the thing to work with your car and it could add up to $500 in some cases,” said Mike Quincy, Auto Editor with Consumer Reports.
Before shelling out any money for a replacement you should check your warranty, auto insurance or roadside assistance coverage to see if they cover the cost of replacing lost or damaged keys.
If your car is less than five years old, chances are you'll have to go directly to a dealership that has the equipment required to program a new key fob.
However, if you have a car that is a little older, you can likely save money by purchasing an aftermarket key fob.
“You can search online for fobs based on the make and model of your car. We found a number of options on Amazon and Walmart, along with online auto part stores for sometimes $200 less than the dealer,” said Quincy.
Many of these less advanced fobs can be laser cut and programmed by your local mechanic or locksmith, but if you're up for the challenge, you can also try programming it yourself.
Quincy advises “you'll find all the instructions in the owner's manual. Just know that most customer-programmable key fobs will require two current working keys in order to program the new one.”
If you do end up needing to get a new fob at the dealer, the process is pretty quick, taking about 15 to 30 minutes. For added convenience, a mobile locksmith can replace many fobs, programming and cutting the keys right in your driveway.
If your fob quits working it may not need to be replaced it could just need a new battery. Most use a coin style battery that you can replace yourself by checking the owner’s manual.
If it ever quits you should know almost all automakers hide a mechanical key inside the fob. There is usually a small button you push that allows the spare key to pop out, and that can help get you on the road until you get a new fob or battery.
Now that key fobs are so expensive you may want to take part in the War Amps Key Tag Service.
It’s a free service that accepts donations. A tag is attached to your keys and if you lose them and someone finds them, they call the number on the tag and the keys are mailed right to your door.