Car Keys Replacement Cost (2021) – All You Need To Know. How Much It Cost and Average Prices at The Dealership, From the Locksmith, or Online. Market Research on Different Makes & Models, GREAT Tips to Save Money & More.

Car key replacement cost 2021 guide

Car key replacement cost 2021 guide

 

In short, the national average cost of a replacement car key is between $200 to $470. The total cost depends on a few factors:

2021 Car keys replacement cost estimate - National average

2021 Car keys replacement cost estimate – National average

 

  1. Year, make and model of your car
  2. Time of day & your location
  3. Where you get a key replacement (Dealer, automotive locksmith, online, etc)
  4. Whether it is a holiday or a weekend.
  5. Original ignition or not
  6. Type of key you had (remote key fob, transponder key, or non-transponder key)
Key replacement cost factors

Key replacement cost factors

 

We will discuss later how you can save a lot of money, regardless of which car key you need.

 

In this article:

types of car keys

types of car keys

Overview – General explanation, where we collect the information and more

Introduction – 3 main car keys categories

Factors that affect the price and tips to save money

Automotive locksmith coding a new Honda key with a special machine on-site

Automotive locksmith coding a new Honda key with a special machine on-site

Most common brands – Estimated cost (locksmith, dealer, online)

High-end car keys – Estimated cost (locksmith, dealer, online)

Discontinued models – Estimated cost (locksmith)

 

Overview:

One of the very first questions we are being asked when people are calling for help about replacement keys is: “how much does it cost to get a replacement key for my car”

Well, as you might imagine, the price varies and depends on the year, make, and model of the car (Ford, Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Audi, etc). That being said, prices can also differ between vehicles of the same year, make, and model. For example: for a 2017 Ford F150, there can be two different key options, transponder key(regular ignition) or key fob(push to start).

key fob vs regular ignition price of key

key fob vs regular ignition price of key

Moreover, where you get your replacement key, whether at the dealership, from a locksmith, or online, can affect the price as well. Even your current location and the time of day that you call for key replacement service can affect the price you pay. More will be discussed about that later.

Automotive locksmith coding new key fobs on-site (Ford)

Automotive locksmith coding new key fobs on-site (Ford)

Regardless of which key you need, when, how, or from where you choose to buy it, we include professional tips to save you time and money, making the process faster and cheaper.

We checked the average prices with locksmiths and dealerships in small, medium, and large cities across the country. In addition, we checked average prices online for key blanks (Amazon, eBay, and independent stores).

Finally, we recommend you check out our blog posts: How to find your car keys, car keys replacement insurance coverage, and how to get a replacement car key for more useful information.

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The newer the car is - The more expensive is to get a replacement key

The newer the car is – The more expensive is to get a replacement key

 

To give you a better idea of the costs to replace a car key, we have divided all car keys into three main categories of their corresponding automobiles:

Different makes - Different car keys and security features

Different makes – Different car keys and security features

 

Most Common Makers (Acura, Buick, Chevy, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan,  Toyota, etc)

Automotive locksmith coding Dodge car key

Automotive locksmith coding Dodge car key

Having the largest number of manufacturing brands, this category will be relevant to most people. Ford, Toyota, Chevy, Chrysler, Nissan, Lexus, Infiniti, Dodge, Hyundai, Kia, etc. fit this category. Click here to see this category estimated prices.

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High-end car keys (Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes, Maserati, etc)

Automotive locksmith coding Audi car key (2021 key)

Automotive locksmith coding Audi car key (2021 key)

This group includes many German car manufacturers such as BMW, Audi, and Mercedes. Here you will also find other luxury cars, such as Jaguar, Maserati, Lamborghini, etc. As the keys and the cars’ computers themselves have additional security features, replacing car keys for models in this group is more costly than doing so for most other models. In addition, it may take longer to get your replacement key, and the availability of keys is not as vast. Click here to see this category estimated prices.

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Car keys for very old or discontinued models (Plymouth, Mercury, Eagle, etc)

Automotive locksmith coding discontinued Mercury car key

Automotive locksmith coding discontinued Mercury car key

In this group, we include vehicle models made by now-defunct companies, or those old enough that there are no longer codes available for them. Scion, Pontiac, Eagle, Hummer, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Saturn, exemplify this category. In this case, the solution is either to replace the ignition or read the cuts manually. More about this situation later on. Click here to see this category estimated prices.

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Now, let’s discuss the factors that affect the price, regardless of your car’s manufacturer:

As mentioned above, having the key blank, cutting, and coding the key is only one part of the overall cost. The following factors will determine how much you will pay total for a replacement key:

  1. Year, make and model of your car
  2. Time of day & your location
  3. Where you get a key replacement (Dealer, automotive locksmith, online etc)
  4. Whether it is a holiday or a weekend.
  5. Original ignition or not
  6. Type of key you had (remote key fob, transponder key, or non-transponder key)

Factors that will increase the overall price: 

Factors that increase the price

Factors that increase the price

 

Factors that will decrease the overall price:

Factors that decrease the price

Factors that decrease the price

  1. Make an appointment – schedule your appointment ahead and try to work a good time for the locksmith – this should give you a discount
  2. Aftermarket key option
  3. Wait time
  4. Keyless entry option
  5. Keycode – can you get it yourself from the dealer? did you check the owner’s manual?
  6. Better quote – just like a mortgage, tell them you found a better price.

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Let us review each one of the factors mentioned above:

 

Year, make, and model:

2021 new car keys

2021 new car keys

 

The first thing you should know is that the newer your car is, the more expensive it is to get a replacement key, regardless of the make, model, location, etc.

2021 Hyundai Elantra key fob replacement including programming

2021 Hyundai Elantra key fob replacement including programming

 

In addition, especially with the new 2021 models, such as Hyundai Kona, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford F150, etc, we see that there are a few more new keys out there. This means there may be a problem for some locksmiths to make you a new car key on-site, as they may not have the new key blanks yet.

2021 key fob replacement (Honda)

2021 key fob replacement (Honda)

 

2021 Chrysler remote key replacement and emergency key

2021 Chrysler remote key replacement and emergency key

Therefore, we always recommend having the VIN number handy, so you can provide it to the locksmith, and they can check if they have the key available. If not, the dealer may be your only option.

2021 Toyota remote key fob replacement

2021 Toyota remote key fob replacement

In addition, high-end car keys, such as BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, etc, are more expensive to make. The reason is that these makes usually have better security features that make it harder for locksmiths to make a replacement key and therefore there are limited options to get a replacement.

There is, however, another factor to consider when it comes to older cars. More specifically, cars that are older than 10 years.

Why is that?

 

Because of the key code database.

Non-transponder car key cost - Depends on availability of codes

Non-transponder car key cost – Depends on availability of codes

 

GM VATS key - most chances codes aren't available for these keys

GM VATS key – most chances codes aren’t available for these keys

The car key code database is a huge database that gathers all the information about cars for most makes and models in the U.S.

Car dealerships use this database to get information about a vehicle’s history, accidents, previous owners, and more.

One piece of information that is available for them is the car key code. These codes are available for about 10 years or so, depending on the manufacturer.

This code is used by locksmiths and dealers to cut a new key when all keys are lost. After 10 years or so, the code is no longer available for dealers, and therefore they will not be able to provide you with a new replacement key. In this case, a locksmith or mechanic will be your only option.

Locksmiths who can cut you a new key for these types of vehicles, usually charge more for this type of job, as it costs them much more to get the code. If no code is available, then disassembling the door to access the cylinder is the only option left.

For this type of job, you should expect to pay twice as much, as there is a lot of labor involved.

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Time of day and your location:

After Hours Replacement Key Service Can Cost Up To 60% More

After Hours Replacement Key Service Can Cost Up To 60% More

 

Like with any other service provider, there is a difference in price if you call for service during business hours or at 11 PM.

How much of a difference? It is usually about 50%-60% more outside of business hours. During business hours you will pay somewhere around $50 for a service call. Whereas,  after hours, you can expect to pay around $75.

On-site coding service for Cadillac keys

On-site coding service for Cadillac keys

Same as when you call for service after hours, weekends, and holidays are times when the price goes up to get a replacement key. in addition, keep in mind that you may not have all the options as you would on a regular business day, such as the availability of a locksmith nearby or the open dealership.

Based on our research, locksmiths usually charge between 40%-60% more on holiday, after hours, and weekend.

Therefore, if you can wait and this isn’t an emergency, that could save you a lot of money.

 

Tip:

Unless this is an absolute emergency and you need to start your car asap, wait until tomorrow morning at 8 AM and then call a locksmith.

Car keys coding machine

Car keys coding machine

You will be surprised at how much money you will save. You can usually expect to save somewhere around $100-$150, just for waiting until normal business hours to call for service.

Furthermore, after hour codes may cost the locksmith more money. That means you will have to pay more. Try to wait until regular business hours.

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Your location:

Factors that affect the price - location

Factors that affect the price – location

 

Most locksmiths offer mobile service for replacement car keys. They realize that you cannot drive your vehicle, and will therefore come to you, and make your replacement key on site. Of course, there will be a considerable price difference between a service call to downtown Philadelphia, for example, to one 50 miles deep in the woods, with no locksmiths around.

The more remote your location is, the more you will pay for someone to come and make you a replacement key on site.

Programming new key fob on-site (Infiniti)

Programming new key fob on-site (Infiniti)

Finally, remember that sometimes, even if you are located in the heart of the big city, you will pay more than usual due to traffic, weather conditions, etc.

 

Tip:

We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to do your homework, and call a few locksmiths for a quote.

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Here is why:

Factors that affect the price - location

Factors that affect the price – location

Like any other service provider, automotive locksmiths have busy days and slow days.

Imagine if you decide to call only one locksmith company, which just happens to be having a very busy day, with an already fully booked schedule, and you request emergency replacement car key service.

They may be able to help you,  most likely in a few hours, and they will probably charge you more, as they have to delay their other customers, who already have appointments. Help will come, but with a much higher price tag on it.

Alternatively, there may be another locksmith, sitting at home, doing nothing, having a slow day. He or she might prefer to offer a lower price, and make some money than to stay idle. 

Copy of a new transponder chip key by an auto locksmith (Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac)

Copy of a new transponder chip key by an auto locksmith (Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac)

This situation is more common than you might think. Businesses have good days and slow days. To take advantage of this, it is crucial to call a few companies for a quote.

Make sure you do your research. It will pay off. Call at least three or four locksmiths near you for help. Do not forget to have the pertinent information available, such as the year, make, and model of your car.

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Which company you choose and availability of locksmiths nearby:

The larger the company, the more you should expect to pay. This unwritten rule is true more often than not.

Large companies have to spend a fortune on advertising, and therefore will tend to charge more. A small, recently opened, family-operated business or locksmith, with fewer clients, will usually charge less for the very same services.

Mazda key coding

Mazda key coding

Tip:

Once again, you should call a few locksmiths in your area. Keep in mind, most locksmiths will travel to within at least a 15-mile radius. Therefore, do not just call locksmiths within one or two miles from where you are located. Expand the search. It may be worth it!

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Original ignition or not

Original ignition - makes the process faster with key code

Original ignition – makes the process faster with key code

 

This is an important factor and the reason is simple. Locksmiths, like dealers, use a code to get the cuts of the key for the ignition cylinder. In case you have had to replace your ignition before, that code will not be relevant and they will have to figure out the cuts for the new ignition in a different way, called “impression”.

Ignition replacement - Chevy

Ignition replacement – Chevy

 

GM 10 cut ignition replacement

GM 10 cut ignition replacement

 

Ignition replacement - Ford

Ignition replacement – Ford

Unfortunately, most locksmiths do not know how to accurately use this method and do not use it much as it requires great skill and time. As a result, most of them simply replace the ignition altogether, and you pay a higher price.

Finally, remember that unless you rekey your ignition cylinder to the original key, this also means you will have a different key for the ignition than for the doors.

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Type of key you had:

Maybe the most important factor of all is the type of key you had.

Most car keys, for models made after 2008, use key fob technology, also known as “a smart key” or “push to start”.

 

Here are examples of key fobs:

Key fobs - different makes

Key fobs – different makes

 

This type of key is the most expensive one, as it contains a variety of security features and has to be coded to start the vehicle.

The older version is the transponder key, which also has to be coded by a special machine, as shown below.

 

Here are examples of transponder keys:

Transponder keys - different makes

Transponder keys – different makes

 

Finally, we have the non-transponder key, which has no security features whatsoever and does not have to be coded. This type of key is used for vehicles made before 1996.

 

Here are examples of non-transponder keys:

Non transponder keys - cheapest option

Non transponder keys – cheapest option

 

As we have the 2021 models in the market, chances are that you had a key fob to start your vehicle.

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Now, let’s discuss the factors that will definitely help you get a better price for your key replacement:

Tips to save money on car key replacement cost

Tips to save money on car key replacement cost

 

Make an appointment:

Always try to make an appointment for replacement key

Always try to make an appointment for replacement key

A lot of locksmiths will offer you a discount if you can schedule a specific time that is convenient for them. It makes a lot of sense for them to book two appointments that are nearby so they can save time and gas. This is especially relevant for customers who live far from the city center.

Remember that some of them won’t offer it voluntarily, so don’t be shy and ask for it. It may save you about 10%-20% off.

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Aftermarket key:

aftermarket key fobs and original car keys

aftermarket key fobs and original car keys

The price of the key is a very important factor in the overall price. Some locksmiths and most car dealerships only offer an original replacement key, from the manufacturer. Those keys are the most expensive ones, and there is a cheaper option available which is an aftermarket key.

In the US, there are many companies like Ilco, JMA, Strattec, and more that make very reliable replacement keys for most makes and models.

Bottom line, check with the locksmith or dealership if they can get you an aftermarket key, this should make the price cheaper by about 10%-20%.

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Wait time:

Wait time can reduce the overall cost of a replacement key

Wait time can reduce the overall cost of a replacement key

Most locksmiths understand that chances are you will want a replacement key ASAP. However, if you can wait a couple of hours (while at work for example) then you should be able to get a discount for it. How much? most locksmiths will give you somewhere between 5%-15% discount.

Once again, if they don’t offer it, just ask them for it. It makes sense for both sides, as they can go to another emergency call while you wait for them.

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Keyless option:

Did you know that some keys come with a built-in keyless entry option and some don’t? That’s right!

Many aftermarket keys, as well as originals, come with a built-in keyless option, which obviously makes it easier for us. However, you don’t really need the keyless to start the vehicle. You can simply have the same key without the keyless.

Here is an example:

Honda transponder key - WITH a keyless entry

Honda transponder key – WITH a keyless entry

 

Honda transponder key - WITHOUT keyless entry

Honda transponder key – WITHOUT keyless entry

 

How much can you save on that one? Well, depends on the make and model, usually, the keyless option key blank costs about $60 while the non-keyless costs about $10 or so.

Keep in mind that this is only relevant for transponder keys as key fobs have a built-in keyless entry already.

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Your unique car key code:

Key code by VIN can lower the price of a replacement key

Key code by VIN can lower the price of a replacement key

Most locksmiths and dealers use a key code to cut you a new key. This makes the process much faster and efficient.

Back in the days, locksmiths needed to disassemble the doors/ignition, etc to find this code.

Today, there is a database for those codes and they are available for locksmiths or dealers within minutes after they provide the VIN number for a fee, usually somewhere between $20-$80 (depends on the make and model).

You, as the owner, may have this key code in the owner’s manual, or you can call the dealer to get it for free.

If you do have this code, provide it to the locksmith and ask for a discount as you save him money as well.

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Ask for a few quotes:

Call for a few quotes to get the best price of a replacement key

Call for a few quotes to get the best price of a replacement key

Just like when you are negotiating(or will) with the bank about a mortgage, this is exactly the same story here and therefore, maybe the most important factor.

Try to get a few quotes, but anyway no less than 3. Here, a few minutes of your time can really save you a lot of money.

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Bottom line, how much should you expect to pay for a replacement key:

 

Car key replacement cost for common models: Ford, Toyota, Chevy, Jeep, Chrysler, Kia, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, etc

Common makes keys

Common makes keys

 

Let’s start with the key fobs/remote keys/smart keys like in the picture below:

key fobs different makes

key fobs different makes

 

Automotive locksmith price: $250-$450

 

Remote key fob replacement estimated cost - Automotive locksmith

Remote key fob replacement estimated cost – Automotive locksmith

Dealer (including towing): $330-$550

 

Remote key fob replacement estimated cost - Dealership

Remote key fob replacement estimated cost – Dealership

 

Online (uncut, uncoded) $55-$165

Getting a new key online is pretty easy these days. There is one thing to keep in mind before you do get a new key:

For remote keys, you will still need an automotive locksmith, or the dealer, to cut and program it for you, which will add to the total price.

All remote key fobs cannot be programmed manually. A special machine is needed.

Key fob replacement estimated cost online (uncut or coded)

Key fob replacement estimated cost online (uncut or coded)

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Transponder chip keys:

Transponder key - Different makes

Transponder key – Different makes

Locksmith: $180-$280

Transponder key replacement estimated cost - Automotive locksmith

Transponder key replacement estimated cost – Automotive locksmith

 

Dealer: (including towing): $230-$420

Transponder key estimate cost - Dealer

Transponder key estimate cost – Dealer

 

Online (uncut, uncoded): $5-$25

Getting a new key online is pretty easy these days. There is one thing to keep in mind before you do get a new key:

For transponder keys, you will still need an automotive locksmith, or the dealer, to cut and program it for you, which will add to the total price.

Most transponder keys cannot be programmed manually. A special machine is needed.

Transponder key estimate cost - online

Transponder key estimate cost – online

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Non-chip key:

Non transponder keys - Different makes

Non transponder keys – Different makes

Locksmith: $200-$250 (Limited availability)

 

Non-Transponder key replacement estimated cost - Automotive locksmith

Non-Transponder key replacement estimated cost – Automotive locksmith

 

Dealer/mechanic: (including towing): $230-$300

Non-Transponder key replacement estimated cost - Dealer

Non-Transponder key replacement estimated cost – Dealer

Most chances the dealer can’t make you this type of key as it’s too old and there are no available codes. However, it’s worth trying.

If the dealer does have access to codes, you should not pay more than $50.

In case you need service after hours, the ignition was changed or any additional factor mention above expect to pay 25%-50% more for a replacement key.

 

Online (uncut, uncoded): $1-$2

Non chip key replacement cost - online

Non chip key replacement cost – online

 

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High-end car keys (Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes, Maserati, etc)

High end car keys

High end car keys

These types of car keys are usually high-security keys that require a special cutting & programming machine to make. Not all locksmiths who make car keys, have these very expensive machines. Therefore, you may have to make some extra calls to find someone who does and can cut you a new key.

Let’s start with the key fob/remote key/smart key like in the picture below:

High end cars key fobs

High end cars key fobs

 

Automotive locksmith price: $400-$900

High end car keys estimate - Automotive locksmith

High end car keys estimate – Automotive locksmith

 

Dealer: (including towing): $500-$1000

High end car keys estimate - Dealer

High end car keys estimate – Dealer

Online (uncut, uncoded): $100-$250

High end car keys estimate - Online

High end car keys estimate – Online

You can get high-security car keys and remote key fobs online. However, there are two things to keep in mind:

  1. There is limited availability for those keys, especially for remotes key fobs.
  2. Even if you do find your remote, you will still need to have a locksmith or dealer cut and program it for you.

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Transponder chip keys:

High-end brands stopped using transponder chip keys around 2015 or so, depends on the make.

 

High end transponder car keys

High end transponder car keys

 

Automotive locksmith price: $200-$450

High end transponder car keys estimate - Locksmith

High end transponder car keys estimate – Locksmith

 

Dealer: (including towing): $250-$500

High end transponder car keys estimate - Dealer

High end transponder car keys estimate – Dealer

 

Online (uncut, uncoded): $25-$45

High end transponder car keys estimate - Online

High end transponder car keys estimate – Online

 

Non-chip keys: Not relevant for these makes.

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Discontinued models (Pontiac, Plymouth, Eagle, Oldsmobile, etc)

Older models makes keys

Older models makes keys

 

Replacement keys for these models can be made by:

  1. Keycode – chances are it is no longer available.
  2. Finding the code on the door/ignition cylinder.
  3. Cutting a key by “impression” or tryout keys.
  4. Replacing the ignition cylinder completely.

This one is a tricky one, as the only option you have is to use an automotive locksmith. A mechanic can replace the ignition, but cannot make a new key.

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Keycode

This is by far the easiest and cheapest. The only problem is that keycodes are not available for most models in this category. If you can get the key code from a another dealer, and give the locksmith the code to cut you a new key, that would be your best option.

If the key code is available, you should pay no more than $100.

 

Find the code on the door/ignition cylinder

Key code on a cylinder

Key code on a cylinder

This method involves a lot of labor, which will result in a higher fee.

 Not too long ago, before 2008, key codes were not available for locksmiths to cut replacement keys.

What they had to do then was to get the code by disassembling the door cylinder, glove compartment cylinder, or ignition cylinder, where there is a key code that tells them the cuts needed for a replacement key.

That took a lot of time, and most locksmiths do not do it anymore. This is the most common way to cut keys for these models. However, because of the labor involved, you should expect to pay somewhere around $300 for a replacement key.

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Cut a key by impression or tryout keys

Tools to read the wafers of a cylinder to make a replacement key

Tools to read the wafers of a cylinder to make a replacement key

Cutting a key by impression is a way to cut a new key by guessing the cuts by trial-and-error. Unfortunately, it is a very hard task and not many locksmiths possess this skill.

Alternatively, for some models, like older Fords, there is a set of keys (usually about 200 or so keys), also known as tryout keys. One of those keys will likely be the right key for the doors and the ignition.

As you can probably imagine, locksmiths may have to try up to 200 keys until they can find the right one.

Once again, lots of time is spent getting a replacement key,  and this is no longer a very common option.

If a locksmith can cut a key by either one of these options, expect to pay about $250.

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Replacing the ignition cylinder completely

Ignition replacement for Ford cars by an automotive locksmith

Ignition replacement for Ford cars by an automotive locksmith

 

Ford ignition cylinder parts

Ford ignition cylinder parts

 

Most locksmiths we spoke with offered to either replace the ignition or to tow the car to the shop, where a mechanic could replace the ignition. (Remember, this will result in having different keys for the doors and the ignition).

Automotive locksmith replacing a new ignition cylinder

Automotive locksmith replacing a new ignition cylinder

 

In addition, remember that MOST keys for these models are non-transponder keys and therefore no programming is needed.

 

So, based on that here are the best estimates we could come up with:

Estimated cost of key replacement for discontinued models

Estimated cost of key replacement for discontinued models

 

Automotive locksmith, where codes are available: Up to $150

Finding a key code by disassembling the cylinder: Up to $300

Impression or tryout keys: Up to $250

Automotive locksmith replacing an old GM ignition cylinder

Automotive locksmith replacing an old GM ignition cylinder

Having the ignition replaced by an automotive locksmith: Up to $200

Finally, remember that if coding is needed for chip keys, the price will go up (about $80 more)

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We hope you find the information here useful! Need more help?

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Useful links:

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Car keys insurance coverage

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