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Phoenix Locksmith Inc.
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Everyone misplaces their car keys from time to time. But every once in a while, we actually lose them for good. The problem is, a modern set of car keys can be very expensive to replace. Not only do these keys have costly integrated anti-theft technology, they often need to be “programmed” to your vehicle! This can mean that a lost set of keys can cost hundreds of dollars to replace.

This is shocking news to many vehicles owners, as losing a set of keys didn't used to be so expensive. In the days before computer technology took over the automobile, you could call the dealership, give them your VIN number, and they'd have a brand new set of keys waiting for you to pickup. The whole thing might have cost $10. Today...not so much.

Modern Car Key Replacement Costs A Pretty Penny

The days of simple and inexpensive car key replacement are gone, and there's a good reason for that. If someone can easily obtain a copy of your keys, they can easily steal your car, whatever is in your car, etc. Thieves have even been known to steal your car so they can use it to get into your house, as many of us rely upon our garage door opener to get us in and out of our house without a key.

Automakers began replacing simple “dumb” keys with smart keys (aka chip keys) in the 1990s. These new chip keys actually include an embedded computer chip, and the vehicle is programmed to accept inputs only from a key with a known chip. The advantage in this system is that someone needs more than an exact duplicate of your key – they need time to re-program your vehicle to accept a key with a new code. As you can imagine, programming a vehicle to accept a new key (which can take up to 30 minutes) isn't something car thieves want to wait for.

This programming requirement means that your local dealership is often the best place to go to get a replacement key. The dealer can cut a new key based off your VIN (make sure you have proof of ownership or they won’t do it), and then they can actually program your vehicle's computer to accept this new key. As Consumer Reports outlines, replacing this kind of key can easily cost more than $100 between the programming charge and the cost of the replacement keys.

What About The Key Fobs?

Almost all cars come standard with key fob transmitters for keyless entry, and the cost of replacing a key fob can vary greatly depending on your make and model. Generic versions are available from many online stores for less than $20, and the dealerships offer the basic remotes for less than $50, but programming can bring that total up over $100. Again, much like replacement keys, programming may need to be done at the dealership if you've lost all the keys and fobs you have.

On the other hand, if you've just lost the fobs and still have the keys, you can often program a replacement fob yourself. Many dealers are more than happy to explain the process, but in some instances it might take a little searching online to find out if anyone has cracked the code for your model and is willing to share.

Key/Fob Combos Are Pricey

If your vehicle uses a combination key and fob – or if your vehicle is “keyless”, meaning you just need to have your fob in your pocket to access and start your vehicle – replacement can get really pricey. The combination key and fob is often only available directly from the dealership, and these units can cost hundreds of dollars. As one Jetta driver discovered, it can cost as much as $600 to replace a key/fob combo.

In extreme cases (such as uber-luxurious automobiles), your dealer may have to replace multiple components on your car in order to replace your key. It's not at all unheard of for a replacement key for an ultra-premium car (think high-end Mercedes-Benz, Bentley, Ferrari, etc.) to cost more than $1,000 to replace, at least after all the fees are paid.

How You Can Avoid These Costly Charges

Until someone invents a device to find keys that’s as high tech as the modern keys themselves, losing your keys will always be a possibility. Developing a routine with your keys, such as clipping your belt loop or inside your purse, can help tremendously in keeping track of them. However, there are some things you can do above and beyond organization:

Don’t share your only set of keys with another driver -- this often leads to confusion and misplaced keys, as you're not always aware when they go missing.
Many vehicles will allow you to program replacement keys yourself if you already have your original pair. Thus, you can future avoid programming charges if you go ahead and buy a replacement key now, before you need it. Just program it yourself the day you get it, and then put it in a drawer just in case.
After-market code pads are available for most vehicles. These are are key entry pads with numbers (like the Essex AKE-5) that allow you to enter your car by punching in your own 4 digit code. When you go on a hike, go to the gym, etc., you can just leave your keys in your car and use the key entry code to get into your car.
Of course, the best plan of all is not to lose your keys. Good luck!
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Why Change your Locks?

New-Locks-Keys-AugustaYou might not think it’s an immediate must when moving in, but we’re here to tell you otherwise. Changing the locks is vital in keeping yourself and your belongings safe in your new place. Sure the previous homeowners will present you with their sets of keys, but there could be many spares out there that were never retrieved (contractors, dog sitters, neighbors, family members, etc.) Even if you’re a renter, ask your landlord to change the lock in-between tenants to ensure that only the appropriate people have access to your apartment.

Tip –> Don’t forget to change your garage door code too!

How to Find a Locksmith?

Okay, so we’ve convinced you to change your locks but how the heck do you find a reputable locksmith. Great question. First and foremost, ask family and friends for recommendations. They may have someone they know and trust that you can easily call up to visit your new pad. If that doesn’t work, do some research on the internet. Read reviews, check out different locksmith’s websites, or look on sites like Angie’s List. You want to find someone reputable who you can trust, so don’t be afraid to shop around for one that is right for you. Also keep location in mind. You might want to find a locksmith who lives within a 10 mile radius, just in case you ever need to call them in the future if you get locked out.

I recently hired a locksmith to re-key our new condo, and he requested that I send pictures of my current locks via text. This was helpful as he could bring the necessary supplies when coming to change them. So before you call… you might want to snap a few close-up photos so they know what they’re working with.

How much does it cost?

money money!You’ll most likely be able to get an estimate over the phone from your locksmith. Often times they’ll charge you by the lock, and then add on a few more dollars for spare keys. If possible, confirm prices over the phone so you’re not surprised at the price when he arrives. Expect to pay anywhere from $75-$300 to have your home re-keyed.

What should you expect?

Licensed locksmiths should ask for your identification when they visit your home to make sure that you really are the homeowner. Don’t be offended if your locksmith asks… instead rest assured that he knows what he is doing! You can also have your locksmith walk around your home to view any potential “weak spots” where you might want to put in extra security measures.

House-KeysSo what do you say? Are you going to add this to your mile-long moving to-do list? One of the first steps in making your new home your own is having control over who can access your front door. Change your locks and have peace of mind in your new place.

For more fun tips, check out this Reader’s Digest article featuring 13 things your locksmith won’t tell you! <— pretty funny!

Organizing KeysAnd then be sure to organize your home keys with the tips from this post!

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are you locked out your car or home?
no problem call Phoenix locksmith and we will come out in about 20 min and unlock your door.
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