There may be little that compares to the aggravation, and quite frankly the helpless feeling, that comes when car keys are lost or misplaced. For auto owners with vehicles manufactured in about 1995 and newer, car key replacement can turn out to be a pretty costly expense, as auto companies began to switch over their locks and keys to more technological means about then, mainly as an increased theft deterrent measure.
As time marches forward, fewer and fewer older cars are now on the road. With their declining numbers, there is a corresponding decrease in the number of locations where car owners can simply walk in and get a spare key “cut” for a few dollars. Replacement keys can now be pretty pricey, this coming as a result of technology that is now put into keys and the locking systems in cars.
3 different types of car keys, and what must be done to replace them
Laser Cut Keys: also known as “sidewinders” or “internally cut” keys for the way the shank is specially etched. These keys are distinguishable from regular cut keys by the slightly thicker shank, with fewer carved out grooves. This key comes with a built-in transponder chip, so if a replacement is required, it will need to be programmed at a dealership or locksmith. These keys are popular as they are more secure than standard keys, and can be placed into the ignition either way.
Transponder Keys: newer cars come with a vehicle immobilizer, which the transponder chip disarms once the ignition is turned on . These keys come with an electronic key fob (otherwise known as a remote or transmitter). A replacement key must be programmed, either by a dealership or locksmith, or may be done by the owner. The car’s owners manual should provide the protocol necessary for the owner to re-program the key themselves, or relevant information may be found online.
Smart Keys: the latest in key technology, it actually isn’t a key at all, but simply a fob that either plugs into the car’s dashboard, or in the very latest models, starts the car with a simple push of a button. Only dealerships can replace the smart key, which can be quite costly. The major attraction for this key is the great ease in starting the vehicle with a single button push. The major drawback is that the smart key is lost very easily, with a replacement most likely costing between $200-400 at the dealership.