Has anyone seen the car keys? I’m sure I put them on the kitchen table….it’s ok i’ve found them!

Does this sound familiar? How many times have you started your week with those exact same words? Car keys are listed in the top three most frequently lost items, along with TV remotes and mobile phones. Fortunately for most of us the panic is short lived and the loss is only temporary as the car key are discovered in the nick of time.

Should you lose your car key permanently however, you may be in for a shock at just how much the main dealers are charging to replace them. A recent report from The Auto Locksmith lists the cost of replacing car keys in 2019. Some car key can cost as much as £3000 to replace. Yes that price is correct, that’s not a typo with too many zeros. The Toyota dealer currently charge a staggering £3000 to replace a smart proximity key for a Toyota Yaris if no spare key is available.

Why are some car keys so expensive to replace?

Whilst the physical key may cost a few hundred pounds, it’s not the cost of the key itself that determines the total cost. Car keys are complex pieces of technology that do much more than unlocking the doors and starting the car. In order to start the car there is a series of security checks that go on seamlessly in the background to ensure the car is not being stolen. Only a programmed and authorised key can start the car, preventing thieves from simply hot wiring the ignition.

So ignore what you see in the movies, stealing a car in this way hasn’t been possible for well over 20 years. This doesn’t mean to say cars aren’t still being stolen in 60 seconds, but that’s a whole different article.

The technology incorporated into a car key communicates with several modules on the car. The majority of car keys can replaced and reprogrammed to a car by simply plugging in a diagnostic tool to the cars OBD port. Unfortunately some cars, like the new Toyota Aygo for example, do not work this way and it is necessary to replace several parts if a new key is required.

It may be required to replace the smart module box, all the locks and two new smart keys. The cost of the parts alone contribute to high cost, but you must also factor in the labour cost of replacing the parts and programming the key. On some vehicles the modules needing replacement are inaccessible without a several hours of labour striping parts to get to them.

The following infographic illustrates the prices of a new car key for the UK’s top 10 best selling cars.

How to reduce the cost of replacing car keys

It goes without saying that replacement car key costs can be reduced and totally avoided if you make an extra effort not to lose your keys in the first place. Should the worst happen however, you could make a saving by using an auto locksmith service that would not only shave ££ off dealer prices, but also come out to you.

If you drive one of the cars listed in this article be sure to get a spare key.

About the author

Hello, I’m Mark Migliaccio owner of theautolocksmith.co.uk. I have over ten years industry experience working with car keys and utilise my knowledge by offering expert advice and money saving tips for common car key problems over at The Auto Locksmith Help & Advice Hub