Losing your car keys can happen to anyone, that’s why it’s important to have a spare key on hand!
If you’ve shelled out the dough for a new vehicle, taking a trip to the locksmith to get yourself a spare key made for a couple of hundred dollars is probably pretty low on your priority list.
But do new cars come with spare keys or just the one key?
New cars typically come with at least one spare key; however, there is no guarantee that a used car will come with more than one key at purchase. Spare keys can be made if desired, but they may cost between tens or hundreds of dollars depending on the key type.
Keep reading to learn more about when vehicles should come with a spare key, as well as how much it costs to replace one!
Can a dealership sell a car without a spare key?
If you’re getting a new car, the dealership should give you two keys, one main and one spare.
However, some dealerships try to give you only one key, trying to charge you extra for the second key.
You should plan on this, and use it to your leverage. Ask for a discount on the car if the dealership isn’t giving you a second key on a brand-new car, or ask for a spare key to be made.
For used cars, it depends. Dealerships might not have the second key with them if they don’t provide it upfront.
However, you can ask the dealership to get a second key made for the used car.
In some cases, some repossessed cars only have one key, so you won’t be getting a spare. However, you can ask them to have a second key made as well.
Or, you can ask for a discount on the one key you’re getting, so you can save some money when you get a second key made.
Why you should get two keys with used cars
It is not unheard of that some scammers sell you a car with one key, then proceed to steal the car if they know your address.
That’s why when buying a used car directly from the previous owner, make sure to get both keys if they have them.
If the keys are the newer type, with transponder chips or keyless fobs, get a new one from a dealership, and use the VIN number to get the older keys removed from the ignition recognition.
Can you sell a car with one key?
Yes, you can! If you lost one of your spares or want to keep it for sentimental value, the dealership won’t have an issue.
Though, they might haggle for the price of the car.
Personal selling or selling your car through a dealership will easily let you sell a car with just one key
How much do replacement keys cost?
It depends on the car, and how old the ignition system is. This cost may be very small for very old cars, which don’t have any sort of gadgets and are simply started with physical keys.
You can get a locksmith to make you a standard car key for around $10-$12.
As the model of the car gets newer and newer, so do the costs of the key and fob that come with it.
Newer security features help you secure your car, but that makes the keys and chips that come with it more expensive as well.
That’s why losing a key to a brand-new car might cost you way more than if you lost the keys to a 20–30-year-old car!
Transponder keys have chips in them that send a signal to the ignition. This way, if someone else tries to start your car with a similar key, the engine won’t start.
This is because that key hasn’t been previously programmed with your ignition, and won’t do them any good.
These keys are usually more expensive than just mechanical keys and will cost around $150 plus if you get them made from a dealership. The fob that comes with it would have separate charges.
You can get these keys made from professional locksmiths as well, who would generally charge somewhat less.
Locksmiths also have the same programming machines that dealerships have, which allow you to program your transponder chip with the ignition receiver, allowing you to start your car.
How do I program a transponder key
Programming your transponder key is easy if you have the car’s manual with you. Otherwise, you can look up online for your specific make and model of the car, and check how to program the key.
A method that works with some cars is to insert your 2 keys issued to you with the car into the ignition and turn them to the on position for 3 seconds each.
After this, insert the 3rd key you got into the ignition and repeat the process. This should program your key in some cases.
These are the most expensive since they use a completely different method of starting cars.
Called smart keys by some, these emit randomized codes verified by the engine’s computer, allowing you to start the car.
Keyless fobs can only be bought from dealerships or authorized factory parts resellers, and cost upwards of $200, going up to $550-$600 for some luxury cars.
New cars should come with two car keys, and you have the right to refuse a new car if your dealership is only giving you one key.
Used cars might have one key since that’s the key they came with, probably due to the previous owner losing them or keeping them for sentimental value.
If you’re buying a used car from a dealership, use this to your advantage and ask for a discount or for a second key to be made.
When you’re going to get a key made, simple keys that only start the car can be very cheap, but the price goes up as you start attaching more and more tech to it.
The price can go up to $600 or more if you get a keyless fob or a smart key.