Picture yourself walking back to your car at night. Subconsciously, you reach your hand inside of your pocket to find your keys. After rooting around for a moment, you come up empty.
Your car keys and alarm fob are missing, and you’re stranded.
In that situation, where do you go for a car key replacement? And how much does car key replacement cost?
If you need a lost car key replacement or even a car key fob replacement, read on to learn about how a locksmith in DC can help.
How to Replace Car Keys or Key Fobs
As technology improves, our cars and locking systems continue to get smarter. How your car keys are replaced will depend on the kind of car and keys that you have. This also affects the price of the replacement.
Traditional Car Keys
Traditional car keys are becoming obsolete, but they are typically the easiest and least expensive to replace. This is because their only function is mechanical. As long as the key fits into the door and ignition the car, the vehicle will start.
When a traditional key gets lost, a locksmith can cut you a new car key immediately. If your car is very old, however, you may need to contact your dealer to acquire an ignition lock cylinder that is compatible with your car.
Anyone who works in commercial door repair in DC should be able to help you to cut a new key.
Some cars use a key fob in conjunction with an ignition key to start. If you have lost your fob, this scenario is not catastrophic because your key can both open the door and start the vehicle.
You can acquire and reprogram a replacement fob fairly easily. They are widely available as aftermarket products. You can buy new fobs from locksmiths, at automotive shops, from your dealership, or on the internet.
If your fob has the key embedded into it, however, your situation becomes slightly more complicated. We call these springloaded fobs “switchblade keys.” You will not be able to open or start the vehicle without the fob, leaving you stranded until you can acquire a replacement.
These switchblade keys are also available as aftermarket products but might be trickier to find. A locksmith can help you source an appropriate replacement. You can also find switchblade keys for sale at your dealership.
Keys With Transponders
A traditional car key with an embedded microchip is a transponder key. They work by forming a wireless connection between your car and the microchip. While these are great for preventing theft, it is impossible to start your car without the chip.
This can lead to headaches, as someone needs to pair a new microchip to your vehicle. The vehicle must physically be in the location while someone programs the new key. You will need to provide proof of ownership to even begin the process of acquiring a new transponder key.
In the majority of cases, this reprogramming can only happen at an automobile dealership. In some cases, a qualified locksmith may be able to help you reprogram a transponder key.
You may have a remote keyless system that allows you to open your car doors without pressing a single button. Modern cars with a “start” button work with smart keys. When this technology works, it can be life-changing – but when you’ve lost your keys, you’re in trouble.
The modern smart key may be small, but it still contains microchips and sensors that lock and unlock your vehicle. Usually, the key is also connected to your automobile’s anti-theft system. If your key is not near these systems, none of them will work.
Because it is part of the car’s computer system, replacing a smart key is more complicated than cutting a new key. To work with a new device, someone will have to reprogram the car. This is the only way the new key will work with your specific vehicle’s system.
This is good news if your keys have been stolen. Once a new set of smart keys is programmed to work with your vehicle, the old set of keys becomes obsolete.
Luckily, you don’t need to be a computer hacker to get back on the road again. Many locksmiths have experience in reprogramming smart keys.
How Much Does Car Key Replacement Cost?
You are probably wondering, “How much to replace car keys?” Expense is often one of the biggest sources of anxiety when keys are missing or stolen. That should not prevent you from beginning the process of recutting or reprogramming your keys.
Acquiring a new key or fob doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re seeking a cheap car key replacement, you have options that can help you cut the costs.
Regardless of what kind of car you drive, you can often save money by working with a locksmith instead of a dealership. A locksmith in Washington, DC, can get a better price for their materials and can sell them to you with less of a markup.
You can also save money on towing services by contacting a locksmith. In situations in which a car must be present during reprogramming, a locksmith can travel to you. Towing can be one of the biggest expenses when keys go missing, so this will save you money.
The price of your replacement will depend on what hardware is being replaced. The less technology, the less it will cost. This means traditional car keys and simple car fobs will be the cheapest to replace.
Services involving replacing sensors and microchips will cost you more because the base price for the technology is higher. A reputable locksmith will not overcharge you for the replacement. On average, even the most complex replacement should not cost you more than $400.
Replace Your Keys Fast
If you need your car keys or car fob replaced, working with a 24-hour locksmith in DC is a great way to get them replaced fast. Car key replacement does not need to be expensive or time-consuming. Even the most complex systems can be reprogrammed when the job is in experienced hands.