Getting Your Car Keys Replaced At The Dealership in 2024


Losing your car keys or having them stolen can be incredibly frustrating. But with the right key replacement process, you can get back on the road quickly through your dealership’s service department.

This comprehensive guide examines everything you need to know about replacing lost car keys at the dealership in 2024 – from costs to reprogramming steps.

When to Get Car Keys Replaced at the Dealership

There are several situations when you’ll need to contact the dealership about replacing your keys:

You lost your only set of car keys – Without keys, you have no way to access and drive your vehicle. The dealership can cut and program new keys. Your keys were stolen – Car thieves with access to your keys can steal your actual car. Have keys remade immediately for security.

  • Keys are damaged/worn – If your keys don’t reliably work due to age, wear or damage, replacements will restore full functionality.
  • You want extra keys – It’s smart to have spare keys as a backup. The dealership can duplicate additional sets for convenience.
  • New anti-theft technology – New keys with updated electronic chips or technology provide enhanced security from theft.

In any of these cases, the best option is having new keys made and programmed by the professionals at your dealership’s service center. They have the equipment and expertise for quality key replacement.

When To Get Car Keys Replaced At The Dealership
When to Get Car Keys Replaced at the Dealership

How Much Does it Cost to Replace Car Keys at the Dealership?

Pricing for car key replacement at dealerships varies by location and vehicle make/model, but averages around $150-$400. Key type and programming steps impact the final cost. Here are typical ranges:

  • Basic keys – $10-$50 per key without programming
  • Transponder keys – $100-$200 for chip programming
  • Fob/Remote keys – $200-$300 for programming
  • Luxury/high security keys – As much as $400 per key
  • Key programming – $50-$150 per key
  • Cutting basic keys – $10-$20 each

Dealers also charge service or labor fees for the total job. Provide your VIN to get a quote specific to your vehicle. Be upfront about lost keys – there is usually no cost difference versus damaged/worn keys.

Getting Keys Replaced Same Day at the Dealership

You call ahead to verify quick service availability for your car make and model. You provide the exact key cut specs and key codes to assist with programming. You have access to the original owner manuals and paperwork

You authorize express service fees for expedited processing if offered. You have proof of ownership and valid ID ready. You arrange reliable transportation to the dealership. You are flexible on service hours if a technician needs to stay late

Same-day key replacement can cost $50-$100 more than standard service but provides immediate relief of being locked out of your car. This convenience is often worth the premium cost.

Getting Keys Replaced Same Day At The Dealership
Getting Keys Replaced Same Day at the Dealership

Key Information to Provide the Dealership

Having accurate details about your existing key set will make replacement quicker and easier. Provide as much of the following as possible:

  • Original key or valet/spare key for copying
  • Year, make, model and VIN
  • Whether keys had remote unlock/security buttons
  • Photos or measurements of key cut shape
  • Receipts/paperwork referencing key codes
  • Number of keys made initially with the car
  • Details like color, label markings, codes on keys
  • Any issues with current keys like chips not detecting

Collecting this information ahead saves time and makes key replacement more accurate. Leave nothing to guesswork or the dealership will need to trial-and-error the programming.

Key Reprogramming Steps at the Dealership

Modern keys often require detailed electronic reprogramming to sync with your car’s computer modules. Programming performed by the dealership typically involves:

  • Using diagnostic systems to enter key cut codes
  • Synching the RFID chip ID codes
  • Matching keys to VIN data in the immobilizer module
  • Coding the ignition lock cylinder with the key codes
  • Verifying remote/push button functionality
  • Road testing for total operation of locks, engine, alarms
  • Updating onboard computer systems to acknowledge new keys
  • Providing paperwork detailing programming for your records

This multi-step electronic programming gets all the complex encryption and syncing right to avoid issues. The service tech will ensure complete functionality before returning the programmed car keys to you.

Key Reprogramming Steps At The Dealership
Key Reprogramming Steps at the Dealership

Getting a Spare Key Made at the Dealership

It is smart to have an extra spare key made for your vehicle in case your main set is ever lost or damaged. Having the dealership make a high-quality spare while initially getting keys replaced provides peace of mind.

Tips when getting a spare key copy made:

  • Request they make it non-imprinted without remote buttons for cost savings. Specify metal key construction not plastic key fobs if more durable
  • Verify it starts the ignition before accepting – test thoroughly. Add a durable key tag with your contact info just in case
  • Store the spare somewhere secure like a safe rather than with your main keys. Ask for a spare valet key without trunk/door access if desired

Having a spare key backup through the dealership provides security and convenience if you end up needing to replace lost keys again down the road.

Getting a Replacement Fob or Remote from the Dealer

Keys with electronic remote fobs allow you to lock/unlock the doors and trunk from a distance. But the fob components can malfunction or break over time. If your remote no longer works, the dealership can likely replace just the fob mechanism without redoing the entire key.

Tips for replacing a defective remote fob:

  • Specify if you only need the plastic fob unit, not metal key. Make sure batteries are fresh before assuming it needs replacement
  • Ask if they can reprogram the existing fob if issues are electronic-based. Inquire about updated fob technology for added features or security
  • Request to test the new fob’s functionality before leaving. Have old fob disassembled to understand root cause of issues. Consider adding a 2nd fob for the other keyring in case of future failure

While swapping the remote module may be simpler than full key replacement, dealers still charge $50+ for fresh fob programming. But you get peace of mind from having remote access restored.

Getting Locks Re-Keyed at the Dealership

Rather than replacing all your keys, some situations call for just getting the vehicle locks re-keyed:

  • Only need to replace lost/stolen keys
  • Current keys work but concerned about security
  • Want to remove old owner access but keep your current keys

Re-keying involves changing the lock tumblers internally so existing keys no longer turn the ignition or doors. Benefits include:

  • More cost effective than remaking all keys – $200 vs. $500+
  • Quick service taking less than an hour
  • Increased security from former owners or thieves
  • Avoid programming steps needed with fully new keys
  • Existing keys still work after re-key service

Check if re-keying qualifies for insurance coverage after theft. It restores security without your keys also needing replacement.

Key Replacement Cost

Type Of Car KeyReplacement Cost
Remote Key$50 to $100
Keyless Entry$25 to $150
 Laser Cut Car Keys$150 to $250
Car Key with Transponder Chip$120
Switchblade Car Keys$200 to $300
Key Replacement Cost

Other Key Services Offered by Dealerships

Extracting broken keys or removing stuck keys from ignitions/locks. Cutting new keys based on VIN when exact key lost. Providing loaner car access items when keys are unavailable

Coordinating overnight mail of keys or fobs if you’re not local. Explaining warning lights related to key issues on dash display. Helping program garage door openers, keyless entry pads, etc. if needed. Ensuring software updates so new keys sync properly

Take advantage of the comprehensive key services available through dealers to avoid the stress of lost or damaged keys leaving you stranded.

Other Key Services Offered By Dealerships
Other Key Services Offered by Dealerships

Tracking Down Your Car’s Key Code

Modern keys contain complex electronic codes that must be precisely matched during replacement. Finding your key code information is crucial for dealership reprogramming. Sources to retrieve your key code include:

  • Reference code card included with original keys (check glovebox)
  • Prior key receipt or paperwork from dealership
  • Car owner’s manual/documentation
  • Engraved on original keys/fobs
  • Your auto insurance documents
  • Calling the manufacturer with VIN to look up
  • An auto locksmith can decode keys to find code

-Key code may be stored at dealership if originally programmed there

Locate any source that references the long encrypted key code for your car. Providing this code makes replacement programming much smoother.

Here is a draft response to your questions without using bullet points:

Can You Get Discount Codes for Replacement Keys?

Replacement keys from dealerships can be quite expensive, so it’s understandable to look for ways to save money. Some dealers may offer discount codes or coupons that can reduce the cost of cutting new keys.

However, these promotions tend to be rare and limited. Your best bet is to ask the dealer service department directly if they have any current discounts on key replacements. Just keep in mind that significant discounts on factory-cut keys are uncommon.

Other Key Services Offered By Dealerships
Other Key Services Offered by Dealerships

Can Dealers Program New Keys?

Most dealerships have the ability to program new keys for the vehicles they sell. The service department at a dealership will have the necessary equipment and software to program transponder chip keys to match the immobilizer system in your car.

This “pairing” of the key and vehicle is required for the key to start the engine. Dealers can program keys whether you need a basic metal key or more advanced smart key. The process to program the key only takes a few minutes in most cases.

When Dealers Can’t Program Keys

While dealers can program the majority of keys, there are some instances when they may not be able to configure a replacement:

  • For very old vehicles, a dealer may lack the codes or equipment to program old-style metal keys.
  • If you lost your only remaining key, the dealer needs at least one existing key to program new ones.
  • For keys with damaged transponder chips, the dealer may not be able to clone new keys.

In these cases, you may have to resort to other options like locksmiths or mobile replacement services to program new keys. Just be aware that this usually costs more than having the dealer program a key.

Other Key Services Offered By Dealerships
Other Key Services Offered by Dealerships

Partnering With Locksmiths

As an alternative to the dealership, you can often save money by using a local locksmith to program replacement keys. Locksmiths have the necessary machines and skill to program both basic and complex modern keys.

They can cut and program keys using the vehicle’s VIN number or an existing working key. Partnering with a locksmith often yields the lowest prices on programmed keys.

Just be sure to find a reputable provider, get quotes in advance, and verify they can program keys for your specific vehicle make and model.

Cost-Saving Tips

To save the most money on replacement keys, keep these tips in mind:

Shop around at multiple dealers and locksmiths for the best price on programming new keys. Consider buying aftermarket key blanks and having them programmed rather than paying dealer prices

  • Ask about discounts for multiple key replacements
  • For used vehicles, request a second programmed key from the seller
  • Use coupon codes when available for dealer key replacements
  • Opt for basic metal keys instead of more expensive smart keys

Following one or more of these tips can lead to significant savings on replacement keys. With some diligence, you can avoid paying full retail prices.


What is the future of the car key?

The car key is likely to become entirely digital in the future, as smartphones and smartwatches replace traditional metal keys. More vehicles will enable virtual keys that can unlock and start the car via an app. Key fobs will also become more sophisticated with added security features and integration with other connected tech and services. But for the foreseeable future, digital keys will complement traditional keys rather than fully replacing them. Gradual innovation will improve functionality, convenience and security.

Why are dealership keys so expensive?

Keys programmed by the car dealership are expensive because the dealership charges a premium for their service, stock, and convenience. The equipment and software needed to cut and program new keys is very costly for dealerships to acquire and maintain. There are also overhead expenses related to operating the service department. And since most customers prefer the simplicity of getting keys through the dealer, they take advantage by marking up prices significantly. There is no third-party competition at the dealership, so prices on keys and programming remain inflated.

Do new cars come with 2 sets of keys?

Typically, new vehicles come standard with two sets of keys from the factory. This usually includes two fully functional, programmed keys capable of starting the ignition and unlocking the doors. More than one key is provided for convenience in case a key is misplaced or damaged. Some higher-end vehicles may come with three keys. But more than two keys is rare, while a single key is usually a sign that the car is used. New cars can be assumed to come with two keys unless otherwise noted.

How much is a new key fob for a car?

The cost of a new key fob for a car varies by make and model but usually ranges from $100-$400. More basic key fobs without remote start capability cost $100-$200 from a dealership. Higher-end smart fobs with added tech and features run $200-$400. Luxury brands tend to be the most expensive. Independent locksmiths or online third-party retailers can cut prices by 50% or more compared to the dealership. But programming is required after purchase, adding to the overall cost.

Q: Is a dealership the only place that can make new keys for my car?

A: Dealerships and some locksmiths have the equipment to program new automotive keys. But dealerships have the most direct access to manufacturer key code databases.

Q: How long does it take for the dealership to replace a car key?

A: The process usually takes less than an hour if the dealer has blank key stock or can program existing keys. It may take 1-2 days if new key blanks must be ordered.

Q: Does the dealership need my original key to make a copy?

A: Having your original car key makes duplication faster. But the dealership can program new keys just using your VIN and key code as long as you authorize it.

Q: Can I still drive my car to the dealership to get a replacement key?

A: Yes, the dealership can program new keys as long as you have at least one working key to use to get the vehicle there.


While dealerships have traditionally been the go-to option for replacing lost or damaged car keys, advances in technology and rising prices are changing the landscape in 2024. Dealers possess the equipment to cut and program both basic

and smart keys for their makes and models. However, their inflated service prices, lack of discounts, and inability to program some older keys leave room for alternatives like locksmiths to provide this service at a lower cost in many cases.

Looking ahead, keys are likely to become more digitized and connected to apps and virtual services. But the traditional key fob will remain the norm in most new cars for years to come. Dealers will have to adapt their offerings and prices to keep pace

with consumer demand for convenience and affordability when it comes to replacement keys. Partnering with third-party key programmers or improving discounts should become higher priorities. For now, thorough research and shopping around remains the

best way to get the necessary keys cut and programmed at the lowest price, whether through the dealer, locksmiths, or online retailers. But the balance may shift towards more affordable and innovative options as technology progresses.

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