Not so long ago, misplacing a car key or having one break off in the ignition was no big deal. You could go to a locksmith and have a copy made for only $10 or so.
But as cars have evolved to prevent theft, keys have become more complicated and expensive to replace.
A mechanical key is a simple switch that relies on contact between two conductive materials to send a signal to the computer when pressed. The switch beneath the keycap consists of a spring, prong, and stem that, when pressed down, snaps back up to rest against the metal contacts under the keyboard. There are several different types of switches, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some manufacturers use “mechanical” to refer to any type of switch other than magnetic valve or Hall effect sensors, including those with physical actuation.
Key fobs offer incredible convenience, and can even be a deterrent against car theft. You can unlock your car, disarm the security system, and open the trunk with the press of a button. They’re smaller than traditional keys, and they can also simplify tasks for people who have disabilities that make it difficult to turn a physical key.
Key fob batteries need to be replaced periodically. Many owners’ manuals or Internet resources explain how to do it yourself. Some fobs need specialized programming equipment that only dealerships have.
Genesky, the locksmith CR called to get a quote for replacement key fobs, says he can do everything (key-cutting and programming) for $200-$250, less than what a dealer would charge. However, he has to turn away customers with newer European cars because he doesn’t have the expensive programming equipment they require. He also warns that some aftermarket fobs don’t work with all cars. They may have a different radio frequency number than the fobs mated to your car’s door locks.
The majority of newer cars are designed with transponders in them, and these add a layer of security to your vehicle. This is because a transponder sends out a signal that only the car can read, so if someone else’s key uses the same frequency, the vehicle won’t start. This makes it harder for criminals to break into your car, although it’s not foolproof, as some experts have developed ways to bypass transponders.
A locksmith who specializes in autos can make you a transponder key, and they’ll be able to program them to your specific vehicle. This process isn’t something that can be done at a kiosk, so you should only trust a locksmith to do it. If you need a transponder key made, Beishir Lock and Security will provide you with a great one for less than you’d pay at the dealership. Contact us today for a Car Key Replacement and a free estimate!
Car owners can also purchase key replacement through their insurance provider, which often saves them money. Generally, the process is straightforward and involves providing proof of ownership and an authorization number.
If your car requires a key fob, smart key or transponder key, a professional locksmith with special equipment is needed to replace the device. These experts can program a new device to work with your vehicle’s immobilizer system.
When it comes to traditional keys, however, this is a simpler process that can usually be completed at a hardware store or locksmith. An associate simply selects the correct key blank for your year, make and model of vehicle to create a duplicate. A key cutting machine then traces the original contours of your existing key to create an exact copy.