Featured in Sydney Morning Herald
SMH- Drive August 14th 2010
The price of a car is not necessarily a reflection of the price of a new key.
A replacement car key costs an average $500 – and you could have to wait up to six weeks.
Technology is driving up the cost of the humble car key, with some owners being charged up to $800 for a replacement. And the cost is not the only drawback of the new generation of key fobs, with delivery of replacement keys taking up to six weeks.
There are a number of variables that come into play when replacing keys, including the car’s country of origin, the model of the car, the year it was made, whether it is a flip-key or a smart key or a regular three-button fob. Whether your car came with one or two keys from the factory can play a big part in replacing them.
Drive contacted a number of metropolitan dealerships for prices for replacement keys for 16 different current-model vehicles, and found the average cost to replace a single unit was about $479.
Almost all car keys on the market now include a remote locking button, so replacement keys not only need to be cut, but also need to be coded to match the vehicle. In most cases, though, cutting the key and programming the electronics pale in comparison to the actual cost of the replacement remote unit, which, in some cases, could set you back as much as $590.
Australia’s highest-selling car, the Holden Commodore, is one of the more affordable vehicles on the road when it comes to replacing a key between $326 and $339, depending on the model.
Owners of luxury cars generally are the hardest hit, with our research ranking the likes of the BMW X5, Range Rover models and Lexus’s IS250 as the most expensive keys around with quoted costs of $800, $704 and $700 respectively.
Interestingly, though, one Lexus dealer was willing to bargain on the price, at first quoting $635 (pre-GST), and then discounting that cost to $540 all-inclusive for a quick sale. It pays to ask the question, then.
Other high-priced units include Subaru’s Liberty ($665 plus cutting) and the Mini Cooper ($604.32).
At the other end of the market, some of the more humble offerings, such as the cheap-and-cheerful Suzuki Alto, can still cost plenty for a new key. The Alto was one of the least expensive keys to replace yet was still far from cheap, with quoted prices of $250 and $278 including cutting and coding.
Other (slightly) below-average blippers include Mazda’s 3 ($470) and Volkswagen’s Golf ($450).
The cost of the car isn’t directly reflective of how much a replacement key will cost, though. Ford’s Fiesta small-car averaged a whopping $575 from the dealers we phoned.
To be fair, though, you do get two keys for that price.
The least expensive replacement key we were quoted for was the Toyota Corolla depending on which dealership you called.
We were quoted two very different prices from two city-based Toyota dealers, with the price varying dramatically between $248.50 and $434.30 a difference of $185.50.
Some manufacturers can’t source new keys locally, which means you could be without a car for up to six weeks.
Range Rover told us that a new key would take four to six weeks to arrive from Britain. Fiat and Mini both quoted a month turnaround for their respective 500 and Cooper hatches.
Replacing your car key
|Make and model||Price*|
|BMW X5||$800; $675|
|Dodge Nitro||$555; $540|
|Fiat 500||$350; $334.30|
|Ford Fiesta||$575; $259.55 and $584.80 **|
|Holden Commodore||$332.50; $332.50|
|Hyundai i45||$258.45, $253; $534, $529 ***|
|Lexus IS250||$700; $635|
|Mini Cooper||$604.32; $350|
|Porsche Panamera||$502; $653.05|
|Range Rover||$700; $704|
|Subaru Liberty||$570; $380 and $665 ***|
|Suzuki Alto||$278; $250|
|Toyota Corolla||$238.50; $434.30|
|Volkswagen Golf||$450; $386|