Most of us have been there. You try to open or lock your car using your chip key and nothing happens. Even if it beeps, it may not lock or unlock your car door. Or maybe your keys work, but you have to be a few feet away from the car. This can be frustrating. And, it usually means that your keys are only a few weeks away from not working all-together.
For people who have cars that are only a couple of years old, this can be a nightmare. A lot of these newer cars have push-button ignitions and remote key fobs. If you lose your keys for a car with this kind of set-up, you’re at a total loss. It’s impossible to start a car like this if your keys aren’t working right.
So, what are you supposed to do if you lose your chip keys or they break? The answer isn’t cut and dry. It depends on a few things. Here, we’ll talk about what you should do if your chip key breaks or is lost or stolen.
We’ll also talk about whether or not you can get these sorts of keys made at your local Walmart. Regardless, we’ll give you some helpful tips on what you should do if you find yourself in this situation.
Does Walmart Replace Chip Keys?
The simple answer to this question is – no, not really. Walmart can make duplicate car keys. If you have an older key, Walmart is the place to go for a replacement key. The thing is, you need to have a copy of the key in order for them to make a new copy. And, when it comes to most car keys with a chip, Walmart is of no help.
Most car manufacturers don’t want stores like Walmart to be able to make copies of their chip keys. They don’t even want locksmiths to be able to do it. They want you to go to a dealership to have them replaced. There are a few reasons for this:
- Car dealerships charge a lot more for replacement keys so, ultimately, the automakers benefit
- Car keys with chips are programmed for your car. Each car has a unique code. Manufacturers don’t want this information getting into the wrong hand.
- They’d rather you pay for lost key insurance of an extended warranty rather than make it easy for you to get copies of chip keys made on your own
Why Can’t Store Like Walmart Make Copies of Car Keys with Chips?
In order to make it harder for thieves to steal your car, manufacturers assign each new car a unique, rolling-code for their keys. These are called transponder keys. They allow your car to communicate with the key. They can talk to each other if you will.
When you need a new key made, most stores don’t have the technology to do it. In fact, a lot of car dealerships can’t even make copies of these keys. You usually have to make an appointment with the dealership that sold you the car. They can get the unique code from the manufacturer and make a new key in under an hour.
How Do I Get a New Key From the Dealership?
If you end up having to go to the dealer to get a new key, there are a few things you should know. First, you will need to prove that you are the owner of the car. You’ll need a copy of your registration and a valid ID. Your driver’s license should work. You also need to call ahead and make an appointment with the dealership’s service department. You can’t just show up and ask for a new key. If you do that, you’ll end up waiting for hours.
You may find out that the dealership can’t make a key right there on the spot. They may need to reach out to the manufacturer and get the information necessary to make a copy of your transponder key. You will probably have to get your car towed to the dealership. There is no other way to get your car there. Of course, the dealership will be glad to tow it for you – but they’ll charge you at least $100 or more to do it.
How Expensive is it to Get a New Transponder Key?
RIf you need to get a new key, it’s going to be expensive. The general rule is that a set of keys for a domestic car is a lot cheaper than a foreign car. You can usually get a new key for a Ford or Chevy for under $200. If you need to get a new key made for a European car, it’ll run you anywhere from $250 to $450.
And, you’re going to want to get second, backup key made too. That’ll cost another $50-$100. It adds up. If there’s anyway you can get a replacement key for free, do it. For example, your car insurance or roadside assistance policy may include a free replacement key. You also want to check your car’s warranty. If your car is less than two years old, the warranty may cover the cost of a lost or damaged key. Some extended warranties will also cover this for you. Before you pay to get a new key made, check all of these things. It can end up saving you close to $500.
Some Helpful Hints for Replacing a Car Key with a Chip
Having to get a new car key made for a newer car can be a real nuisance. Here are a few tips for anyone who loses or damages their transponder key:
If your car is more than 10 years old, you can probably get your keys made at Walmart or your local locksmith
Any car less than 5 years old probably needs to be taken to the dealership for replacement keys
European car keys cost almost twice as much as keys for a domestic car