Website endorsement: StreetKeys.com
About a year ago, we lost one of the keys to our van. In today's day and age, most new cars have ID chips embedded in the key as an added security measure. So, any old key won't start your car.
Basically, the chip inside the key has to be programmed into your car's computer. That means that someone who makes a mechanical copy of your key can't start your car without the right chip inside. I called the dealer and they informed me a new key would cost $150, which included programming the onboard computer.
The owner's manual informed me that if I had two existing keys, I could program a new one by myself. Fortunately, we found the missing key. By then we realized we needed to have a spare in addition to the two copies that Anne and I carry around with us.
I called the dealer back and asked how much it would be for just the key. They told me they only sell the keys with programming, since "end users" can't program the keys by themselves. I relayed what I had read in the owners manual, but they insisted they needed their expensive hourly technicians to do the very complicated and intricate computer programming. $150.
Instead, I spent 2 minutes on Google and found the above mentioned website
that sells replacement RFID keys. They even give you instructions on how to program the key to the car. If you don't have the existing keys, or need the computer reprogrammed, they'll even hook you up with someone who will come to YOU.
The total price for the key? $15. Plus shipping.
Now, what about the programming? Back to the owner's manual. This car can remember up to 4 keys, then after that the computer has to be reset. If you don't have two existing keys, you need someone to program the computer for you.
First I went to a locksmith who cut the new key to match the mechanical cuts on the old keys. Then I went home, and tried to start the car with the new, unprogrammed key. The "THEFT" light blinked on the dashboard, and nothing else happened, so I guess it really isn't a hoax after all!
The programming was easy. You put in one of the existing keys, turn the ignition on, then turn it off. Then within 10 seconds, you put in the next existing key, turn the ignition on, then off. Then you put the new key in. After that? VROOOM.
$15 vs. $150. And I didn't have to spend an hour in the dealer's waiting room smelling stale coffee and listening to Judge Judy. Hey, dealer? Take a hike.