Modern key fobs serve a dual purpose as both convenient devices and effective theft deterrents, surpassing their traditional role of unlocking and starting vehicles. However, the issue of key fob replacement arises due to their intricate design and associated costs.
Gone are the days of getting a new key cut by a local locksmith. Nowadays, the only viable option for replacing a car key fob often involves visiting a dealership and spending a substantial amount of money.
While your car insurance might cover the cost of fob replacement, it’s essential to consider that this approach would typically count against your deductible.
Therefore, replacing the key may not be ideal if the automaker charges $400 for a new key fob and your insurance deductible is $500.
In this article, we will address the various challenges involved in key fob replacement, offering insights and potential solutions.
Finding an affordable key fob can be a challenge. Even basic remotes often require special key fob programming through dealership-exclusive computer software. While the replacement process is quick, it can still become quite costly.
Kelley Blue Book contacted dealerships nationwide to gather replacement cost estimates for key fobs on popular and high-end models. Quotes for a 2020 Subaru Forester with a push-button start ranged from about $200 to $400. The cost for a 2020 Toyota Sienna fob was similar. Surprisingly, some dealers quoted as low as $150 to replace a 2017 Honda Accord key fob.
For certain vehicles like the 2020 X5 from BMW, dealers justified their approximately $500 charge by pointing to the advanced security features embedded in the fob. However, this pales compared to the crystal fob found in select Aston Martin models, which could cost a staggering $2,000 for replacement and reprogramming.
While key fob prices vary widely, it’s essential to consider the functionality and security features they offer before deciding.
Automakers have made swapping a new battery reasonably straightforward, although a small screwdriver may be required to pry open the key fob.
Typically, these batteries cost $10 or less, with some fobs requiring two batteries. Battery specialist shops and dealers often offer free battery replacement, which only takes a moment or two.
Alternatively, if you’re skilled, you can save time by purchasing a battery from a hardware store, big-box retailer, or online and performing the swap yourself. In case you’ve misplaced your owner’s manual, which is often available in PDF form on the automaker’s website, it provides detailed instructions on how to change the battery in a key fob.
And if you’re unsure, YouTube offers many user-generated videos explaining the key fob battery replacement process.
If your car has keyless access and an engine start, you can still gain entry to your vehicle even with a dead fob. Look for a physical key inside the fob (refer to your owner’s manual for guidance). In certain situations, you may also be able to open the trunk or liftgate.
To start the vehicle, try holding the key fob near the start and stop buttons (or another designated location in the car). For precise instructions on where to position the key fob, please consult your owner’s manual, which contains specific details for your vehicle.