Key FOBs – All You Need To Know.

Remote key fob and push to start button

Remote key fob and push to start button


Remote key fob – Overview

Variety of replacement key fobs

Variety of replacement key fobs

Car manufacturers made a big step in recent years as far as it concerns to safety.

As part of improving safety and security, they also improved the technology which we use today to start our vehicles.

An Automotive locksmith is using a special machine to code new key fob (Dodge)

An automotive locksmith is using a special machine to code new key fob (Dodge)

The latest technology in car keys is what we know as push-to-start keys, remote keys, or wireless key FOB.

Here we will discuss all the aspects of key FOB. How much does it cost to get a replacement or programmed, how to program key FOBs, who can program them (Locksmith, Walmart, dealership), how to reset your key FOB, reasons why your key doesn’t work, battery replacement and more.

So, what is exactly a wireless key FOB?

An inside look of OEM key fob (Genesis 2022)

An inside look of OEM key fob (Genesis 2022)

In a nutshell, it is a type of key that transmits to the car or the car’s computer that the key is nearby and it is safe to start the car.

This is a security feature that is the next step or improvement of transponder key technology which is very common for cars made from 1996 until 2010 or so.

There are many different types of key FOBS for different car manufacturers. However, they all operate in the same way. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter which car you own, this article is relevant for your key fob.

Generally speaking, Key FOBs tend to last and function pretty well for at least three to four years.

However, like any other electronic device, they do wear out, and there are some things you can do to keep them in good shape, like avoiding getting them wet or leaving them in extreme weather (hot or cold) etc.

The more common problem with key FOB is the battery which you probably will have to replace at least once every 2-3 years.

Here is a good example of how to replace a key FOB battery.

How much does a replacement key fob cost?

Coding Jaguar key fob on site by an automotive locksmith

Coding Jaguar key fob on site by an automotive locksmith

Generally speaking, replacing a key FOB usually costs between $160-$450. It depends on a few factors:

First, the year, make, and model of your vehicle – there are different types of key FOBs for different manufacturers, and therefore the price varies significantly.

An Audi or BMW key FOB usually costs about $160, not including programming while Chevy or Ford key FOB usually costs somewhere between $60-$120.

In addition, the cost of programming key FOB:

Having the key FOB isn’t much of a use if you can’t start your car.

Therefore, you must consider the help of an automotive locksmith or a dealer. A Locksmith usually charges for key FOB programming somewhere between $100-$200.

At the dealer, you can expect to pay about 15% less, but you will have to tow your car there.

Finally, brand new, used or aftermarket key FOB:

You would be surprised, but there is a huge difference between brands and where you get your key FOB from.

An automotive locksmith will probably sell you an aftermarket key (Strattec, Autozone, etc) which is usually of good quality. However, like every business, locksmiths sometimes tend to sell poor-quality keys to save money.

Therefore, your best bet would be to buy the key online from the original manufacturer or dealership and have the locksmith program it for you. You can order it here.

Key FOB programming – Can you do it yourself?

Coding key fobs require a special machine (Nissan)

Coding key fobs require a special machine (Nissan)

As explained above, the price of programming a key FOB can be relatively expensive.

Unfortunately, all car manufacturers do not allow self-programming except for some GM models (ChevyBuickCadillacGMC), and therefore an automotive locksmith or the dealer is your only choice.

In case you own a GM car, you can use the links above to read more about programming yourself.

Final thoughts

Key fob and emergency key (to unlock the doors) - Toyota

Key fob and emergency key (to unlock the doors) – Toyota

Here are some additional things to remember about key fobs:

First, every key fob has an emergency key.

It’s inside the key fob and you should use it if the battery dies.

So if you are locked out, don’t worry! simply use the emergency key to get into the car. Above, is an example of an emergency key.

Second, in every car, there is a designated place to charge your key fob battery. I

t shouldn’t be used as a substitute for a battery, but it will help you to start the car if the battery is dead. Check in the owner manual for your specific place. Usually, it would be in the cup holder but things change from one make to another.

Finally, we highly recommend having an additional spare copy of your key fob, emergency key, and battery, just in case.