Remote key FOB – All You Need To Know. How To Program, How Much They Cost & More.

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 of which we use today to start our vehicles.

The latest technology in car keys is what we know as a 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 (Locksmith, Walmart, dealership), how to reset your key FOB, reasons why your key doesn’t work, battery replacement and more.

 

In this article:

Push to start remote key fobs - different manufacturers

Push to start remote key fobs – different manufacturers

What is a wireless key FOB?

How much does a replacement key fob cost?

Key fob programming information

 

So, what is exactly a wireless key FOB?

2021 Ford key fob, emergency key and battery

2021 Ford key fob, emergency key and battery

 

Simply said, it is a type of key that transmits 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 2005.

Every remote key fob has a few components, lets go over them:

  1. Emergency key
  2. Wireless chip
  3. Battery

 

2021 Lexus key fob - inside look

2021 Lexus key fob – inside look

Emergency key:

 

Every key fob has an emergency key. This is can be used to lock/unlock the car in case the battery dies. In addition, for some makes and models, the emergency key can be used to self program an additional key fob (spare key in case you already have two working keys).

The emergency key must be cut by a locksmith/dealer to fit the door’s cylinder.

Wireless chip:

Inside look of key fob wireless chip - Kia 2021

Inside look of key fob wireless chip – Kia 2021

This chip has security features in it, which prevent unauthorized key fobs to start the vehicle. In addition, its wireless capability gives us the option to start the vehicle with the presence of the key fobs within a few feet. (Usually 10 ft or so)

 

Battery:

Variety of key fob batteries

Variety of key fob batteries

All types of key fobs are battery operated. The battery lasts, on average, about 2-3 years depends on the type of battery, uses, weather conditions, and more.

Most batteries cost about $5 for a 5 battery pack. You can find them in most grocery stores, hardware stores, and online.

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 keys fob.

 

Finally,

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 somethings you can do to keep them in good shape like avoid getting them wet or leave 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.

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How much does a replacement key fob cost?

Key FOB cost depends on a few factors including programming

Key FOB cost depends on a few factors including programming

Generally speaking, to replace a key FOB usually cost 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 a lot. 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 cant start your car. Therefore, you have to 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.

All key fobs must be coded on-site with a special machine - Dealer or locksmith only

All key fobs must be coded on-site with a special machine – Dealer or locksmith only

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 are usually of good quality. However, like every business, sometimes locksmiths 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 simply program it for you. You can order it here.

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Key FOB programming – Can you do it yourself?

As explained above, the price of programming a key FOB is pretty expansive. Unfortunately, all car manufacturers do not allow self-programming except for GM models (Chevy, Buick, Cadillac, GMC) 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.

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