Modern cars feature transponder systems that immobilise the vehicle's engine unless the correct key is present. This helps reduce car theft, but it can also mean added expense for you if you need to replace a car key. Your dealer can charge hundreds of dollars and take hours or longer to replace these keys, especially if you've lost all keys and have to reprogram the car's computer. Here are a few tips to save money and time when replacing car keys.
Consider a locksmith
Most of us tend to assume that the best place to get replacement keys is from an auto dealership; after all, that's the advice the car manual gives. Although dealerships can provide replacements or spare keys, they're often more expensive than the keys you can get from an automotive locksmith. Talk to your local locksmith to see if they can provide key services for your make and model of car. A mobile locksmith can even come to you, saving you travel and time.
Have a spare ready
A second key isn't always included with a car purchase, especially if you're buying a used car. Be sure that you're clear with your dealer about what exactly you're getting for your money. If you find yourself with only one key—or even if you have more but still want a backup—you can go to an automotive locksmith and get an extra key made. Keeping this key as a spare will help you avoid some of the challenges of losing a key later.
Repair broken keys
Physical damage to a transponder key doesn't always mean that you should throw it away. If the blade of the key snaps, or if one of the buttons stops working, it may still be possible to repair the key. Talk to your locksmith about repairing a damaged key; it may be possible to save it for less than the cost of a new one.
Know who to call
If you do lose your keys or have them stolen, it's important to know your next step. Make sure you have the number of your automotive locksmith saved in your phone so that you can get the help you need in case of a lockout. Your locksmith will be able to help you, whether that's something as simple as opening your car door so that you can retrieve keys locked inside, or as complex as creating a new transponder key so you can get back on the road.