How to Replace a Lost Car Key Fob

The days of replacing a lost key by having a key cut at your local hardware store are over. Most cars nowadays come either with a push-button start system, keyless entry, or both. Although a modern car key fob adds convenience, replacing key fobs can be very expensive. Here are the steps to follow when circumstances necessitate car key fob replacement.

How to Replace a Lost Car Key Fob

Types of Car Keys and Remotes

  • The basic key with a security chip starts the car and locks and unlocks the doors through the key cylinder on the door.
  • An ignition key with a remote to lock and unlock doors.
  • A key fob with remote locking and unlocking and a push-button start.
  • A key fob with a push-button entry that owners can keep on them for almost all functions.

Check your Vehicle’s Warranty

Before paying for a new key fob, check your car’s basic warranty and insurance to see if they cover lost or damaged keys. Some extended warranties and new-car dealers offer key fob insurance.

How much does it cost to replace a key fob?

The replacement cost of the latest key fobs can run anywhere from $50 to $400 depending on the brand. Keep in mind that this is only for the fob. Depending on the model of your car it will cost another $50 to $100 to get the replacement programmed to work with your car and to get a new mechanical backup key made.

When to contact a dealer for a replacement

If your car was built within the last five years, a new-car dealer will be the best option for a replacement key fob. This is due to the costly programming equipment that is required.

Although it might be tempting to search online for a cheaper key fob, chances are the car won’t work with aftermarket key fobs. Dealers can not warranty aftermarket key fobs. If they do try to program the key fob and it doesn’t work, you will still need to pay for the labor.

The good news is that it does not take long for the dealer to program a new car key fob. Programming a new key fob typically takes around 15-30 minutes. The whole process, including cutting the new mechanical key, shouldn’t take longer than an hour.

Retail Options

Should your car be ten years or older, it is more likely that you will be able to use an aftermarket key fob. Many of the less advanced fobs can be programmed by your local mechanic or an automotive locksmith.

Certain retailers including,, and offer numerous low-cost car key remotes. Be sure to contact your local locksmith first to confirm that they are able to handle the job since the level of key fob programming equipment varies.

When to call a local locksmith

Contacting a locksmith for help is another potential way to save money and time. Locksmiths are typically mobile, which means they can drive to your house or wherever the car sits waiting for its new key.

Some locksmiths cost 30 to 50 percent less than car dealerships. Since most of them are mobile, they can cut out the inconvenience and cost of towing. Many locksmiths are available 24 hours which is another plus point.

Replacement Shells

In certain cases, a key fob will still function, but the buttons are worn. It is possible to remove the internal circuitry from the old fob and move it into a new shell. A new shell can be ordered from your dealer.

Lastly, we advise to always have a spare key fob. If you ever find yourself down to one key, order another one immediately.

Additional Information: Car Theft on the Rise, Thanks to Key Fobs and Sloppy Owners

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