How to replace a broken car key

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We respect your privacy. All addresses you provide will be used just for sending this story. The days of replacing a car key by having an inexpensive blank copied and cut at a hardware store are pretty much over. Most new cars today come either with a push-button start system or keyless entry—or both.

These modern key fobs add conveniences, but replacing them if they get lost or broken can be expensive. To better understand the steps needed to replace a key fob—and the costs—we set out to buy and program several of them. Along the way we learned several valuable lessons that can help you save money and time. Also, some extended warranties and new-car dealers offer key-fob insurance. Although it might be tempting to search for a cheaper key fob online, we learned from Audi and Subaru dealers that some won't work with aftermarket key fobs.

There's a built-in security chip in the fob that cannot be reprogrammed for another Audi. The need for this chip How to replace a broken car key also why you can't buy a new aftermarket Audi key fob online.

Most dealers we contacted said key-fob programming typically takes just minutes, and the whole process, including cutting How to replace a broken car key mechanical spare key, rarely takes longer than an hour. This proved true even with European brands. Some brands, such as Chevrolet, make it possible for customers to save money on programming. Be aware that regardless of the brand, most customer-programmable key fobs require two current, operational keys in order to program a third new key without going to the dealer, Yu says.

We found that retailers including Amazon. We shopped online because these fobs may not always be available in the store. Ibbotson says to be sure to call your local garage first, though, to make sure they can handle the job, since the level of key-fob programming equipment can vary from shop to shop.

CR ordered several different key fobs to assess both potential cost savings and the hassles of ordering key fobs online. So we brought our car to M. Sullivan Hyundai in New London, Conn. It looks nearly identical to the two original fobs that came with the minivan when new, but it lacks the Chrysler logo on the back. As with GM, Chrysler owners can program a third key fob themselves as long as they have two working fobs. Getting a locksmith's help is another potentially money- and time-saving option.

Many locksmiths are mobile, meaning they can drive to your house or workplace, or wherever the car sits waiting for a new key. Sometimes a key fob still functions, but the shell has been damaged or the buttons have been worn down from use. You can take the internal circuitry from the old fob and move it into a new shell. It has all the same buttons our original fob does, including the remote-start function. Swapping the internal circuitry required nothing more than a thin-blade screwdriver to pry open the plastic case, moving the internals and battery from one shell to the other, and snapping it all back together, with no programming needed.

It took us about two minutes to complete, and the new fob worked perfectly. After my dad gave me a ride on his Yamaha two-stroke motorcycle when I was 3, I was hooked on anything with an engine. My most thrilling moment so far has been hurtling down the autobahn at a GPS-timed On weekends you can find me churning dirt on my mountain bike or doing car or motorcycle track days. Follow me on Twitter. In. Become a Member. Remember Me. Forgot username or password? Not a member? Need further assistance? Please call Member Services at Getting another high-tech key fob can be a pricey proposition.

By Mike Monticello. May 04, Sharing is Nice Yes, send me a copy of this. Send We respect your privacy. Oops, we messed up. Try again later. When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn affiliate commissions. Learn more. Types of Car Keys The majority of new cars have one of the following four types of keys and remotes: A basic key with a security chip that starts the car and locks and unlocks the doors through the key cylinder on the door. An ignition key plus a remote to lock and unlock the doors.

A key fob with push-button start and keyless entry that owners can leave in their purse or pocket for virtually all functions. The key fobs for European cars and SUVs are typically the most expensive, thanks to their sophisticated rolling-code encryption to prevent theft. An original Honda key is shown on top.

The uncut, aftermarket replacement key does not have the Honda branding. The inside of a Chevy key fob swapped into this aftermarket shell: Battery leftcircuitry middleuncut backup key right. Best Car Tires of Best Car Batteries of A mobile automotive locksmith cutting a new key for CR's Honda Pilot.

Call in the Locksmith Getting a locksmith's help is another potentially money- and time-saving option. On the left is an aftermarket key fob shell for a Chevy Cruze note the missing bowtie logo. The original shell is on the right. Replacement Shells Sometimes a key fob still functions, but the shell has been damaged or the buttons have been worn down from use. If you ever find yourself down to one key, order a second one as soon as possible.

Check your car's warranty, car-insurance policy, auto club membership, or extended warranty coverage to see if it'll pay for a replacement key fob or will provide partial reimbursement. Most new-car bumper-to-bumper warranties cover key-fob-related malfunctions. New-car dealers usually charge a set amount for key-fob programming, so you can save money by having multiple key fobs programmed at the same time. Always call your local mechanic or locksmith before going straight to the new-car dealer, especially if your car is more than five years old.

You might be able to save some serious money. Mike Monticello After my dad gave me a ride on his Yamaha two-stroke motorcycle when I was 3, I was hooked on anything with an engine. More From Consumer Reports. Show comments commenting powered by Facebook. Make a Donation Newsletters Give a Gift.

How to replace a broken car key

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