Why Is It So Expensive to Replace a Key Fob?

If you’ve ever lost your keys, you’re probably aware of how expensive it is to replace a key fob. Replacements often start at over $100, and can easily and quickly go upwards of several hundred dollars. This may seem exorbitant; why so much for what amounts to a small accessory with a remote control? Let’s look at what’s behind those costs. 

ANKARA, TURKEY – NOVEMBER 26: A woman holds a Peugeot car key as Fiat logo is seen behind in Ankara, Turkey on November 26, 2019. (Photo by Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Key fobs aren’t as easy to replace as traditional keys

It’s one thing if you lose a key; generally you can get a new one cut from a locksmith (provided you have a spare to copy from). You can also get a new one from your car dealership, though as with everything else that comes from a dealership, it will cost you. 

Let’s say that you lose your key fob, though. Because your key fob amounts to a small computer that communicates with your car, it’s more costly to replace. Edmunds estimates the cost of replacing a key fob at $50 to $100. That’s without the cost of programming it. Although some car dealerships will program your key fob for free, others will charge to program it, and this can cost $100 or more. 

Can you reprogram a key fob yourself?

With it being so expensive to replace a key fob, you may be wondering if you can just reprogram the key fob yourself. This may be possible, depending on your key fob. 

You have a couple of options for replacing your key fob. You may choose to order one from your car manufacturer, or you might buy one online, from a website like ebay or Amazon. Of course you need to be careful if you go this route; some key fobs are not as easy to program as others. Also, some key fobs may be advertised as being compatible with your car, but they may not be in reality. It’s important to buy from a reputable dealer to make sure you get what you are paying for. 

To reprogram a key fob, you can generally follow the instructions in your owner’s manual. It isn’t too difficult, if you can get the correct instructions and follow them. 

Some key fobs will be more expensive than others

It isn’t cheap to replace a key fob, but it’s even more expensive to replace a key fob that can do more than lock, unlock, and open the trunk. If you have a ‘smart key’ that can open your car without having to push any buttons, or even start your car, it will cost you even more to replace it. Edmunds estimates that the price of replacing and reprogramming a key fob to start at $220 and cost up to $500. 

Of course, if you’re looking to really spend some cash, there are always ways to spend more money on your key fob. If you buy a very high-end car, your key fob is likely to cost upwards of $1,000. And if you look at your key fob as a statement piece and not just something to open your car, you may want to choose a luxury key fob that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Of course the best way to prevent having to spend too much on replacing your key fob is to not lose or break your key fob in the first place. Obviously that isn’t always an option. The easiest thing to do is to just buy a new key fob from your dealer and have them reprogram it. If you’d like to save some money, look into buying one from somewhere else and reprogramming it yourself. 

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