can dealership make new key

Can Dealership Make New Key

Having the right key is crucial for operating your vehicle properly. Keys allow you to start the engine, unlock the doors, open the trunk, and access other features. However, keys can easily get lost, damaged, or stop working over time.

When this happens, you’ll need to get a replacement key made. But where can you go to get a new key for your car? Many people don’t realize that car dealerships offer key replacement services and can make new keys for most makes and models.

Getting a new key through the dealership has several advantages over alternatives like locksmiths. Read on to learn all about how car dealerships can make new keys for your vehicle.

The Key Types Dealerships Can Replace

Modern vehicles use technologically advanced keys and key fobs that are difficult to duplicate without specialized equipment and software. There are three main types of keys that dealerships can replace:

  • Basic physical keys – These are traditional metal keys used in older vehicles. The dealership can cut a new key based on the key code.
  • Transponder keys – Also called chip keys, these have an embedded microchip that provides extra security. The chip must be programmed to the vehicle computer.
  • Remote/smart keys – These have remote functions to lock/unlock doors and even start the engine. Programming is required to sync the fob.

Only auto dealerships have access to the necessary tools and software to program transponder and smart keys. Independent locksmiths often can’t program these more advanced keys.

The Key Types Dealerships Can Replace
The Key Types Dealerships Can Replace

Getting Keys Made at the Dealing Dealership vs. Elsewhere

If you’ve lost your car keys or need a replacement, the dealership should be your first stop. Here are some of the advantages dealerships offer compared to other options:

  • Have key codes/patterns on file – Dealerships keep records of key codes and can reference these to cut new keys.
  • Can program transponders/chips – Only dealers can program the chips in transponder keys and sync smart keys.
  • Security features – Dealerships ensure the new key is correctly matched to the car computer for anti-theft.
  • Warranties – Key replacement may carry a warranty when done through a dealer.
  • Extra services – Dealers may provide lockout assistance, lock/ignition repairs, etc.

While locksmiths can be cheaper for basic keys, the dealership is the best choice for dealing with more complex modern keys and security systems.

Getting Keys Made At The Dealing Dealership Vs. Elsewhere
Getting Keys Made at the Dealing Dealership vs. Elsewhere

The Key Replacement Process at Dealerships

  1. Schedule an Appointment
    Provide your VIN and contact details upfront.
  2. Verify Ownership
    Technicians check IDs and documents to confirm you own the vehicle.
  3. Evaluate Old Keys
    They determine the type and any programming needed for new keys.
  4. Cut/Program Replacement(s)
    Using manufacturer tools, they fabricate exactly matched keys.
  5. Test Functionality
    New keys are road tested before you leave to ensure full performance.
  6. Payment
    Cost covers parts, labor for cutting/programming, and any diagnostic fees.

The process takes 1-2 hours on average. Dealerships guarantee their work with warranty coverage for defective keys or programming issues.

Factors That Determine Cost

Pricing for replacement keys at dealerships will vary based on:

  • Key type – Physical keys are cheaper than transponders or smart keys. Making remote keys costs more.
  • Programming – More complex keys require programming that adds labor costs.
  • Security system – Keys for vehicles with anti-theft systems are more expensive.
  • Make/model – Luxury brands often charge more for keys due to specialized keys.
  • Dealer fees – Location, local rates and additional services impact overall pricing.
  • Number of keys – Making multiple replacement keys lowers the per-key cost.

For a basic physical key, expect to pay $25-$60. Transponder keys may cost $80-$150. For smart keys, pricing ranges from $200 on up to $400 for some makes.

Factors That Determine Cost
Factors That Determine Cost

Ways to Save Money on Dealership Key Replacement

Ask about any promotions or specials they may be running for key replacement services. Inquire about the cost of used/pre-cut keys if you have proof of ownership documentation. Opt for a basic key cut rather than a more expensive smart key or key fob if possible.

Provide your original key to help them precisely cut a matching replacement. Add the key replacement to a scheduled service visit to save time vs. separate trips. Have your title, registration, and other ownership docs handy to speed up the verification process.

Politely request they price match a lower quote you obtained elsewhere. Consider ordering multiple keys at once since the per-key rate often decreases in bulk. Check if any applicable coupons or customer loyalty discounts are available.

Ways To Save Money On Dealership Key Replacement
Ways to Save Money on Dealership Key Replacement

Cost Comparison: Dealership Versus Aftermarket Keys

Dealership Keys:

  • Higher average cost of $150-300 per key depending on vehicle/features
  • Benefit from dealership tools, certification, and expertise
  • Come with a warranty in case of defects or programming issues

Aftermarket Keys:

  • Potentially lower quoted prices of $50-150 per key
  • However, success is not guaranteed as vehicle coding can be complex
  • Risk of incorrect cutting or failed programming without proper tools
  • Provide little to no warranty for non-working or defective keys

The considerations are:

  • Dealership keys provide assurance of a proper solution but at a higher initial cost
  • Aftermarket saves upfront but carries risk of incorrect replacements requiring repeat work
  • Warranty protection with dealership helps avoid additional long-term expenses

Overall, paying more for dealership keys may prove more cost-effective due to the value of a verified, functioning replacement and warranty coverage for any issues. Consider the true overall costs and benefits, not just the quoted prices.

Cost Comparison: Dealership Versus Aftermarket Keys
Cost Comparison: Dealership Versus Aftermarket Keys

Do You Need the Vehicle Present?

Many people wonder if they need to bring their car to the dealership in order to get replacement keys made. The answer depends on your vehicle’s unique security features:

Older Models (2000s-early 2010s): These usually only require the ignition key code retrieved manually. The vehicle does not need to be present.

Mid-Range Models: Code retrieval via OBD port is possible without the car. However, it may need to be brought in later for immobilizer resets or remote programming of key fobs.

Newer Vehicles (2015+): Due to advanced immobilizer technology, accurate programming typically demands that the vehicle itself be present. Remote services generally are not applicable.

pros and cons of having a dealership make a new key:

Dealerships have access to original factory keyTypically more expensive than third-party locksmiths
codes and specificationsMay require a service appointment wait time
Keys will be cut precisely to factory standardsDealers are often busier so can take longer
Less risk of accuracy issues compared toOnly an option if keys were originally from that
third partiesdealership
Keys may be cut at no additional cost withSome older vehicles may not have records on file
recent serviceanymore
Helps maintain vehicle warranty protectionDealership location may be less convenient
Familiarity with vehicle security systems
pros and cons

Warranty Coverage and Guarantees

Longer warranty periods, often 1-2 years, that cover defects in the keys or programming work. A guarantee that if the new keys cut or code incorrectly, the dealership will fix or replace them free of charge.

Accountability, as the dealership is directly responsible rather than passing responsibility to another third party. Troubleshooting and diagnostics are included if replacement keys develop issues later, without additional fees.

Original automaker key blanks and equipment help ensure peak security, functionality, and quality matching the factory keys.

The peace of mind from a trusted, vetted solution backed by a strong warranty is really important when it comes to replacement keys for an expensive vehicle investment. Dealerships uphold stringent standards that give confidence the job will be done right.

Warranty Coverage And Guarantees
Warranty Coverage and Guarantees

DIY Key Programming: Should You Try It?

Liability – If something goes wrong during the coding process, you as the DIYer would be solely responsible, versus a dealership warranty. Expertise – Vehicle security systems are complex. Without proper training, it’s easy to overwrite codes or lock yourself out entirely.

Tools – Aftermarket tools may not have the same calibration or support as what dealerships use officially from automakers. Patents – Some coding methods rely on unlicensed duplication of automaker technology, which could cause legal issues.

Future service – Incorrect DIY programming could complicate key replacement needs down the road. Resale value – Dealership records provide assurance for future owners that keys were done officially.

While the appeal of a low-cost DIY approach is understandable, when it comes to security and accessibility of an expensive vehicle and personal property, it’s usually best left to the professionals. The risks of improper coding can easily outweigh short-term savings.

Diy Key Programming: Should You Try It?
DIY Key Programming: Should You Try It?

What Are the Most Common Causes of Key Damage?

  • Wear and tear over time
  • Getting keys wet
  • Sitting or dropping on keys
  • Severe weather exposure
  • Lock jams

Can I Trust Third-Party Locksmiths for Key Replacement?

  • Consider certification/licensing
  • National brands have more expertise
  • Risk of security issues without verification
  • May void warranties
  • Accuracy requires skill
  • Check credentials carefully vs national brands


What to do if car key is lost?

Contact your dealership right away to see if they can cut a new key based on your vehicle identification number. You’ll need proof of ownership. If not, a locksmith can help but accuracy varies. Program new remotes if equipped. Change locks if there’s risk of theft. Consider disabling remote start/alarm if a key’s missing until replacement.

Why do dealers charge so much for a key fob?

Dealerships must cut keys precisely according to a vehicle’s security protocol. They also program remotes to work with computer systems. This specialized expertise and technology accounts for higher costs versus a standard metal key. Dealers also want to encourage customers to keep better track of fobs for security reasons.

Why is replacing a key fob so expensive?

Key fobs contain expensive transponder chips and radio frequency components. Their programming must be paired carefully with a vehicle’s immobilizer computer. Labor to access diagnostic systems and cut/program a new fob securely adds to charges. Brands also make higher profits on replacement parts/service. Security reasons mandate precision to avoid unauthorized key duplication.

How do you start a car without a key?

You’ll likely need a spare key or have the car towed to a locksmith or dealership to cut a new one. Some vehicles allow a valet-style start by disconnecting a battery cable for 30 seconds, then reconnecting and pumping the gas 3 times while turning the key. But this usually only works once and bypasses all immobilizer security, so theft is a major risk.


In summary, while dealerships are typically the most reliable option for accurately cutting replacement car keys, there are situations where third party locksmiths may still be a valid choice. The dealership will always have access to the factory

specifications and coding requirements needed to duplicate an original transponder chip key. This ensures the new key will seamlessly interface with the vehicle’s electronic immobilizer and authentication systems.

However, dealership services often come at a higher price compared to independent locksmiths. They also may have longer wait times depending on appointment availability. For these reasons, third parties can be more convenient.

As long as proper licensing and certification is verified, and they demonstrate expertise working with your vehicle’s model, third party locksmiths have the capability to cut functional replacement keys in many cases. The accuracy level just may not be as high as what a dealership provides.

Overall, dealerships are recommended if maintaining the vehicle’s warranty is important, or for newer models where ensuring precision factory coding matches is critical. But third parties can work as well if cost and timeliness are larger factors to consider.

So in conclusion – while dealerships offer the highest assurance, third party locksmiths are still a viable alternative depending on the specific vehicle and situation. Just do proper vetting of any independent technicians.

Related posts

Leave a Comment