Why Do Automotive Keys Cost So Much?

Locksmiths are known for being able to help anyone with a key related issue, including automobile keys. In the era of high security and transponder keys, getting a new auto key has become increasingly more difficult and pricier even for the dealerships or locksmiths who produce and program the keys.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is a transponder and/or high security key?

Before the late 90’s most cars had a standard blade key with a varying assortment of cuts that would help deter criminals from stealing a vehicle. Cars back then could be easily “hotwired”, and the ignitions could be picked to start the car without a key. To get a copy of a blade key requires a simple trip to your local locksmith with or without the vehicle.

All of this has changed with the creation of transponder and high security keys. A transponder key is a key that houses a chip in the plastic head. The chip inside of the key contains a serial number that must be programmed into the car’s on-board computer. The chip uses an RFID signal to communicate with the ignition sensor to allow the car to crank when the key is in the ignition. High security keys use a combination of a transponder chip and unique “Laser” cuts. A laser cut key is actually a metal blade key that is cut using a precision CNC machine. The unique cuts and the transponder act together to create almost unlimited possibilities.

However, nothing is 100% secure and criminals have developed ways to break into vehicles, even ones with transponders and high security keys.

What makes getting a key copy so difficult and expensive today?

The microchips that are embedded in the head of the key are expensive. In many situations an OEM key is the only key that contains the proper chip. Programming the transponder to the car after the key is cut takes special equipment and skills. Many dealerships do not have the ability in shop to cut keys, they either rely on locksmiths or they have to special order a key from the factory which could take weeks. Reputable automotive locksmiths can typically make a key for your vehicle on the same day or within a couple of days, depending on the make and model of the vehicle.

How can Irmo Lock Company help?

Irmo Lock Company has been helping people with their automotive key needs for 30 years! We have technicians on staff that have the knowledge and expertise to cut and program keys from almost every manufacturer foreign and domestic, including European.

In most cases our standard prices are cheaper than the dealership and we can typically have your key cut and programmed within a few hours.

Give us a call 803-781-9447 or come by our shop!