Car key fob

Most modern vehicles on the road in the United States use key fobs, so it’s important to know what they are, how they work, and how to get them replaced if you’ve lost your key fob or if it malfunctions. Key fob replacement and getting a new key programmed are some of the most frequently requested services of automotive locksmiths, which you can find right here on Auto Locksmiths.

Key fobs are conventionally used to remotely lock or unlock car doors at the press of a button, but many are capable of starting the ignition remotely, rolling up or down power windows, popping the trunk, and some modern key fobs can control the temperature within the vehicle.

Key fobs and other remote keyless entry (RKE) systems are now found on approximately 91% of 2019-model year vehicles in the United States, according to Edmunds, which is a sharp increase in adoption from 72% just a few years prior in 2014.

Why remote car key fobs break

Remote key fobs can stop working for many different reasons. Although they tend to be quite useful, they are ultimately based on electronics which can fail. Moreover, key fobs can be lost, stolen, or otherwise damaged over time and may need to be replaced.

Some key fobs simply use a transponder RFID chip to communicate with your car’s ignition and require no battery, but most key fobs come with a battery in order to power other functions as mentioned previously. If the battery is drained, replacing it may be a simple matter, but there could be other problems too such as faulty circuitry within the key fob.

If the key fob isn’t even allowing your vehicle to start or to open the doors, it may need to be reprogrammed with the car’s computer system as the transponder may no longer be working properly.

Car key fob

Table of contents:

How auto locksmiths help with car key fobs

The vast majority of modern cars, vans, pickup trucks and SUVs in the United States now use key fobs, so they’re certainly well-known by automotive locksmiths and car dealerships. As such, most automotive locksmiths near you are able to provide services such as key fob replacement and key programming, key cutting and duplication, and vehicle lockout services (including the aforementioned services).

Generally, automotive locksmiths are able to help with cutting and programming car keys for just about all makes and models, including replacing key fobs or repairing faulty key fobs. The key fob given to you when you purchased your vehicle can look quite different from key fobs used in other vehicle makes and models, and so too the technology can differ quite a bit as well.

Having said that, most vehicles in the United States are equipped with key fobs and locks from a handful of suppliers such as Strattec, Hillman Group, ACDelco, Ilco, and a few others. This means that most automotive locksmiths and dealerships can procure quality OEM and aftermarket key fobs that can be programmed to be compatible with your specific vehicle.

Why you should use a car locksmith near you for key fob replacement

Although it may be possible to program a key fob by yourself, there is so much that can go wrong that it is most often not advised. DIY key fob reprogramming can sometimes be done in accordance with instructions from your car manufacturer, but you’ll need to be absolutely sure that you’ve procured the exact type of key fob that is compatible with your make and model. Besides, listing out every single car manufacturer and every model and every single key fob that can be programmed for each one would be exhaustive and therefore there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

Generally, it is best to leave this job to a professional to ensure you waste as little time as possible and get a functioning key for an affordable price. Automotive locksmiths and car dealerships can provide key fob replacements and program them to be compatible with your vehicle’s computer. Dealerships tend to be consistently more expensive than locksmiths, however, so consider hiring a locksmith instead of going to your dealership for a replacement key fob.

Therefore, in terms of convenience, accessibility, and cost efficiency, it is best to go with an car locksmith near you. A car locksmith will come to your location, laser cut a replacement key compatible with your vehicle, program it, and help you test it to ensure that you’re satisfied. You will have to pay more than if you did it yourself, but you’re paying for their expertise, professionalism, and their high-tech equipment and tools.

How car locksmiths replace remote key fobs

Car locksmiths in the United States often travel in fully-equipped vans to customers, providing replacement car keys and key fobs for most vehicle makes and models. Since key fobs are highly electronic in nature, the locksmith must also be prepared with diagnostic testing equipment to fine-tune the RFID of the key fob as well as many other tools for programming and synchronizing the key to your specific vehicle.

Dealerships also have this type of equipment on hand, as well as the ability to order OEM key fobs for your vehicle, but they typically need to order these from suppliers. Moreover, dealerships often stop carrying key codes for vehicle models over 10 years old, so if you’re in need of a key fob for an older vehicle, you may be out of luck at the dealership.

Automotive locksmiths replace remote key fobs by first obtaining the vehicle’s identification number (VIN) and checking it against a vast catalogue of codes for specific vehicles. This allows them to select the appropriate key for your exact vehicle and to carry on with their work.

Depending on the problem you’re having with your key fob, the locksmith may then create a brand-new set of keys, cutting the physical key and programming the electronics appropriately, or it may simply involve replacing a battery, or simply replacing the fob alone with a working model.

Your new key fob may be an aftermarket fob, and it may look different or even have different functions than your original, but it will normally look and work the same. Notify your locksmith of as much information as you can to ensure that they use the correct key fob and that you retain the full functionality of your vehicle.

The cost of car key fob replacement in the US

The cost of fixing or replacing a remote car key fob depends on many factors, such as the age of the vehicle, and complexity of the fob, and the amount of labor required. In general, the cost can vary from around $100 up to $450 or more for a key fob replacement.

Luxury European vehicles, for example, can cost upwards of $500 or even $1,000 for a key fob replacement due to the cost of procuring the exact key for the vehicle and the amount of labor required. At a dealership, the cost can sometimes even exceed $1,000 for a single key fob for these types of vehicles.

Keep in mind that many automotive locksmiths offer warranties on workmanship, so if your key fob fails while under warranty through no fault of your own, they’ll be able to provide you with a free replacement. There’s no guarantee of a warranty, however, so it’s best to call around different car locksmiths near you or to use a reputable locksmith found here on Auto Locksmiths.

Frequently asked questions about car key fob replacement

How much does it cost to replace a car key fob?

The cost of replacing a key fob can vary quite a lot, but it will often cost anywhere from around $100 to around $450. The main factors that affect the cost of key fob replacement are the make and model of vehicle, and consequently the type of key fob required for that specific model, and the amount of labor required.

How long does it take to replace a car key fob?

Replacing a key fob can take anywhere from around 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the make and model of your vehicle and the associated compatible key, the experience of the locksmith, and the amount of labor required. Generally, most key fobs can be replaced in under an hour.

Can I replace my key fob without going to a car dealership?

Yes, it is possible to replace your vehicle’s key fob without having to go to a dealership. Replacement key fobs can be purchased online or from an auto locksmith. Doing the job yourself may be complex and time-consuming, so it is almost always best to call a car locksmith instead.

How do I know if my car key fob needs to be replaced or reprogrammed?

If your key fob is not working properly, the source of the problem can range from it simply having a dead battery that needs to be replaced or it may be that the key fob needs to be completely replaced and reprogrammed to your vehicle. It’s hard to tell without performing a diagnosis. Most automotive locksmiths are able to diagnose the source of the problem with your key fob and provide you with the best course of action.

Can a car locksmith replace a key fob for any make and model of car?

Generally, yes. Car locksmiths tend to be equipped with the equipment and expertise needed to replace key fobs for just about all makes and models of vehicle. Some cars, however, may pose a much greater challenge. Rare vehicles, luxury foreign cars, and supercars may be a lot harder to create and program a key fob for than a Ford, Kia or Chevy, for example.

Will my replacement car key fob be the same as my old one?

In most cases, yes, your replacement key fob will have the same functionality as your old one. It may even be the same model. In some cases, however, the key fob will look different or have different functionality. To make sure that you’re getting the appropriate key fob and to retain the functionality of your old key fob, communicate with your automotive locksmith clearly and in as much detail as possible what type of key fob you have, as well as the make and model of your vehicle.


Auto locksmith near you

Choose Auto Locksmiths for car key fob replacement

Replacing and programming a key fob is a job best left to professional automotive locksmiths. Naturally, you should keep your eyes open for reasonable prices, great quality of service, and reliability so that you’re back in the driver’s seat sooner rather than later.

Every auto locksmith listed on this site has been vetted and approved on the basis of quality and reputation, so rest assured that by choosing your locksmith from our network here on Auto Locksmiths, you’re getting competitive prices and quality services from trustworthy, genuine automotive locksmiths near you.