The Average Cost for a Car Key Fob Replacement Is $100-$850, Depending on If You Go to a Mechanic or DIY.
This price range is based on national averages for all vehicles, and it does not consider taxes, fees, or your particular make and model. Related repairs or maintenance, such as a replacement key, may also be needed. For a more accurate price estimate based on your vehicle’s make, model, and location, use the RepairPal Fair Price Estimator.
Cost at the Mechanic: $150-$850
Key fobs usually take about one or two hours to program. Depending on the make and model, the mechanic may need access to your vehicle as well as all of the key fobs you already have while programming the new key fob. Getting a spare key fob while the one you usually use works well can be less costly than programming a completely new key fob. A spare can let you keep using your vehicle normally if another key fob becomes lost or damaged. It also makes your ride far more attractive to potential buyers.
Cost to DIY: $100-$450
- Difficulty Level: Beginner-Advanced
- Parts Needed:
- Programmable key fob for your particular vehicle
People can sometimes save money by programming a replacement key fob themselves, if your vehicle allows it. Key fobs usually have instructions for programming in the vehicle owners’ or repair manuals, and it may be easier for some people than going to a mechanic for help. However, a professional with specialized equipment may be needed to program key fobs for some makes and models. Other vehicles may not allow DIY programming at all.
What Is a Key Fob?
A key fob is a wireless transmitter that activates certain vehicle functions remotely. Key fobs usually come with a plastic casing with lock, unlock, and alarm buttons. Inside, they have circuitry to transmit signals to your vehicle and a battery. Some key fob replacements include a blank metal key that a locksmith or dealership can cut to fit your vehicle. Others may come with a spare battery.
A switchblade key combines the key and the key fob. When you press a small button on the key fob, the key comes out like a switchblade knife. These keys usually cost about the same amount as a key fob and a metal key. A transponder key is a key fob that contains a computer chip. It sends information to a vehicle for push-button start or remote start. Many cars with transponder key fobs don’t have standard keys, making key fob replacements essential for using vehicles with lost or damaged key fobs.
What Does Key Fob Replacement Include?
Buying a new key fob is only the beginning of the process. The fob must be electronically matched to your car. That way, your car will respond to its commands, and you won’t be able to unlock anyone else’s doors with your fob. The process for doing this could be a relatively simple pairing process similar to a Bluetooth device for your phone, particularly in older vehicles. In other cases, you will need to bring your vehicle and every key and/or fob you have for it to a dealer, who can then pair all of them together using their proprietary equipment. This will cost more than a DIY job, but it will be the only way for some vehicles. It’s the price you pay for the security of knowing that only a dealer will enable access to the vehicle you own.
What Happens If You Don’t Get a Key Fob Replacement?
If you don’t get a key fob replacement and something happens to your current key fob, you may still be able to drive your car as long as you still have a metal key. However, you likely won’t be able to remotely lock your vehicle, unlock it, or use the alarm.
People with switchblade keys and transponder key fobs often don’t have standard metal keys. A lost or broken key fob could mean you need to get your vehicle towed to a mechanic or dealership if you have no spare keys at all. Then, you could have to wait several days while the mechanic orders and programs a replacement key fob.
How Often To Get a Key Fob Replacement
Unless your current key fob becomes damaged or lost, there’s usually no need to replace it. If you have a spare key fob that you don’t normally use, test it to make sure it works every few years. If it stops working or its range decreases, you may have to get the battery replaced. Having a spare key fob is a good way to make sure you can use your vehicle and take advantage of all its features, even if you lose your main key fob. After you get a spare key fob, keep it in a secure place, like your bank’s safe deposit box, in case you need it.
Common Signs You Need To Get Key Fob Replacement
- An amber key warning light
- A red key warning light
- A vehicle that won’t start
- A key fob that doesn’t work when you press the button or only works occasionally
Related Maintenance Services
People often get these services performed at the same time as key fob replacement:
- Key replacement
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At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.