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:

What is a wireless key FOB?

How much does a replacement key fob cost?

Key fob programming information

Additional information

Key fob and an emergency key

Key fob and an emergency key


Key FOB - Audi

Key FOB – Audi

Key FOBs - All You Need To Know

Key FOBs – All You Need To Know – Variety

So, what is exactly a wireless key FOB?

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.

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.

Generally speaking, Key FOBs tend to last and function pretty well for at least three to four years. However, like any other electronic devices, 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.

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:

Original Key FOB - More expansive

Original Key FOB – More expansive

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

In addition, 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 the 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.

Automotive Locksmith or Dealer Can Help - GM Key FOB

Automotive Locksmith or Dealer Can Help – GM Key FOB

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.


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.

Key FOB – Additional information

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 died. So if you are locked out, dont worry! simply use the emergency key to get into the car. Here is an example of an emergency key:

Key fob and the emergency key to unlock the door

Key fob and the emergency key to unlock the door

Second, in every car there is a designated place to charge your key fob battery. It shouldn’t be used as a substitute to a battery but it will help you to start the car if the battery is dead.
Finally, we highly recommend having an additional spare copy of your key fob, emergency key, and a battery, just in case.

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