What You Should Know About Replacing a Key Fob

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What You Should Know About Replacing a Key Fob. Previously, if you lost a car key, you could either go to a local hardware store and have a new one cut from your spare or go to your dealership with your registration and vehicle identification number, or VIN, and have a key-fob replaced while you waited.

Simple metal keys are no longer widely used in favor of key fobs. These high-tech technologies brought modern convenience features like keyless entry and increased security, on which many drivers have come to rely.

They are, however, more expensive than traditional keys and more difficult to repair. Some “smart” fobs have replaced keys entirely, and their incorporation into sophisticated vehicle-security systems makes them difficult to replace.

What You Should Know About Replacing a Key Fob


Just like keys, fobs are simple to misplace. They are also not indestructible. Key fobs, like any other item of consumer technology, can eventually stop working after being jostled around in pockets and handbags for an extended period of time.

Although their plastic and metal casings are engineered to withstand impact, fobs are routinely dropped, bounced, slammed, and exposed to dampness and severe temperatures.

Where can I get a replacement key fob?

Many automobiles can be equipped with aftermarket key fobs that function identically to factory versions. While some firms sell generic universal key fobs, automotive locksmiths generally advise against them, stating that it’s better to get fobs designed particularly for your vehicle’s make and model to ensure they work properly.

It’s also a good idea to get car key fobs, keys, and other locksmithing services from a reputed provider rather than going with the lowest price. This way, you won’t have to deal with the inconvenience of receiving a mismatched or malfunctioning fob.

However, aftermarket fobs are not compatible with all automobiles. If yours is one of these, you’ll probably need to go to the dealer. Typically, if the fob is only accessible from the dealership, it is because making a replacement necessitates technological and security expertise that is unique to the original manufacturer’s service department.


Some replacement units, typically for older car models with less complex security systems, can be easily programmed by the buyer. The self-programming technique is often composed of basic, repeated phases. It is crucial to note, however, that in most cases, you will need at least one — and sometimes two — working keys to program a replacement.

Other replacement fobs can only be programmed by the dealership. Again, this is primarily owing to the security features and software systems installed in late-model vehicles.

Automotive locksmiths may program numerous key fob replacements and, in some situations, will employ software created exclusively for car security systems and key fob programming. In reality, several dealerships outsource key fob replacement to locksmiths.

How much would it cost to replace a key fob?

A few factors will influence how much it costs to replace your key fob. If a key fob is mechanically complex, it is usually more expensive to replace. Older fobs that you program yourself are often priced between $50 and $100. Expect to pay between $200 and $300 for key fobs with a switchblade key that pops out when you press a button.

There are other key fobs that serve a variety of purposes or are part of modern security systems. The “smart key” category includes features such as keyless entry, push-button start, remote start, and similar capabilities. You could end up paying roughly $500 for a replacement key fob that includes all of this functionality. Fobs with LCD displays, like as those found on some high-end BMWs, are at the very top of the price range. Replacement costs for these units might exceed $1,000.

Read: 2025 BMW XM Review, Release Date, and Price

Backup Keys and Apps to the Rescue

Many fobs without a switchblade key include a small metal key inserted in them that can be utilized if the fob fails. This key glides into and out of the fob. It can be used to open doors and start the vehicle with a physical ignition lock, which is often located below the engine start/stop button on the steering column or in the center console.

It’s also worth mentioning that a key fob with a dead battery can occasionally be used to start a car. Pushing the ignition button with the dead fob rather than your finger might sometimes provide enough of a signal to engage the security circuits and start the engine.

Some vehicles go beyond key fobs and provide smartphone apps that can unlock doors and start the engine. Many models do not come with a factory app, although there are aftermarket options available.

If you lose your fob, this software may allow you to use your phone to access and operate your vehicle while you wait for your fob to be replaced.