To fob or not to fob

So, I lost the key to our car. It’s kind of a long story…basically this last week sucked and that was just yet another thing to add to the crapheap.

After I determined that yes, in fact, the key was lost and we weren’t going to be able to get it back, I started doing research on replacing it. Our car is equipped with one of those new fangled antitheft systems where, if you don’t have the key with the special transponder and you try to start the car, the system will lock down. Which, you know, is great. Right up until you need to replace one of those keys.

You can get the keys online. You can look up your car by model or VIN and get the thing that your car needs. And probably you can be pretty sure they’re the right key, because no one ever lies on the internet, right? At any rate, there are lots of vendors of these fancy, programmable keys.

From what I’ve been able to glean, the programming process is basically a way to tell your car that this key is legit, and can be used to start the car. If you get it wrong, you could screw the whole thing up and your car will think you’re trying to steal it. But I cross-referenced two different videos on programming a key for our model car and both did the exact same process — basically, the car equivalent of a luggage lock code of 1-2-3-4-5.

Here’s the catch.

I called two different locksmiths. I’m technically savvy. I’m confident that I can program the key with my eyes closed. What I can’t do is cut a copy of our existing key. For that I need a locksmith. First of all, let me say that I can find a replacement key for $58 with free shipping. There were some for less in Amazon but this came from a supplier that actually checked against the VIN number of the car, so I’m fairly sure that it’s the right thing.

The first locksmith says they can do the whole thing for between $150 – 165, that’s the key, cutting and programming it. What if I get my own key and program it and you just cut the key? Well, because it’s a high security key, the cutting and programming go together, you can’t do one without the other. That’s $85. And they’re a mobile locksmith, so they come to you. $85 + $58 = $143.

The second locksmith could cut the key and program it, but they don’t do the fobs, it’s just the key (presumably with the transponder in it). I ask the same question. What if I get my own key and program it and you just cut the key?  Well there’s a lot of stuff on the internet, and we don’t want people to try to do it themselves and then yell at us when it doesn’t work, so we don’t do that. You won’t just cut the key? No.

Finally, I call the dealer. Partially because I’m getting paranoid and partially because I haven’t even called them yet, I just assumed it’d be more expensive. They say $70.30 for the key and $70 to program and cut it. $140 and change for the whole thing done by the dealer. Well, I guess I should have called them first.

The moral of this story is that there are a lot of stupid people who are ruining things for us smart people. Or maybe the moral is don’t always assume something is more expensive than doing it yourself. Or maybe that there’s a lot of stuff you can get on the internet but that doesn’t mean that you’ll actually be able to find someone who can do the one important thing that you actually can not do yourself. Or something. I don’t know. I’m annoyed.

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