Why are Replacement Car Keys so Expensive?

Ever had your house key copied? If yes, you know that you can have it done at virtually any hardware store and it would take longer to pay for the duplicate then it would be to make the copy itself. Most notably you would pay somewhere around $10 for the entire deal.

So why is it that car keys often start at ten times that price?

The short answer is that making a car key is hardly the same as copying a house key. Want to learn a bit about why that is? I’ll explain.

Lets start with the cars’ key itself. Today’s cars have an “immobilizer system,” which is meant to deter vehicle theft. The system is made up of multiple parts, but what concerns us is the key itself and the cars ignition lock.

Embedded in the top of the key is a “transponder,” which is a security chip which has a unique identification number that is read by the cars ignition lock each time the vehicle is started. If the identification number is accepted it would let the engine start up and run, if not the engine will either not start at all or start and immediately stall out.

Some cars have indicators in the form of a key or padlock indicator in the instrument cluster that will blink or light up when a key which isn’t recognized by the car is used.

Given the large variety of model cars and different years of manufacture, the exact type of key and separately security chip needs to be used. The cost for these keys on the outset is far more then a simple metal key such as one for a traditional lock on a residence or business.

Then there is the specialized equipment needed to physically duplicate – or cut – the blank key, many being “high security” style keys that do not resemble house keys at all.

Once the key itself is copied it still won’t start the car and what is needed is to “learn” the security chip in the new key to the car itself. This requires both specialized equipment and the knowledge of how these systems work.

This service takes quite a bit more time then the duplication of a traditional house key, and given the extra specialized equipment, cost of parts and knowledge raises the cost of the service significantly.

So why do we even bother with “immobilizer systems” at all?

Consider the cost of insurance on a vehicle, or the liability if your car was easily stolen and used to injure another person or damage property. It is a rather insignificant investment considering its immense benefit.

As technology rapidly advances more convenient methods of opening and starting cars are being developed, making things more convenient and inconspicuous, even allowing you to use your cellphone as a key. But as the technology evolves so does the cost of replacing its parts and skill involved in doing so.

We at CarKeysNY pride ourselves in being experts in this field. Keys for cars is all we do, and we do it really well! Interested in us servicing your car key needs? Call us today at 917-475-0707 or email at keys@carkeysny.com.