I lost my car keys. What do I do? The dealer is quoting me more than $500 to replace a single key and remote control unit. How is this a fair price?
It's not a fair price. We'll get to that.
First though, henever you lose a set of car keys - as an absolute priority - buy yourself a replacement set, and get them set up for your car. If you lose the second set before getting the first lost one replaced, this will be an even more expensive disaster.
Losing your car keys - just one set of two - is an expensive problem. Dealers typically charge an unjustifiable premium to replace lost keys. The keys contain code information that disarms the engine immobiliser and also unlocks the car - so without them, getting going is more an IT problem than a mechanical one.
Unfortunately, even if you lose only one set of keys, then the cost of replacement on average style cars is still a whopping $500 - and then you have to get the unit 'coded'. That is, cloned - using the remaining key fob.
Always ring a number of dealerships and get quotes for replacement. (You might need to quote the VIN - the 17-digit identification code for your car. It's on the rego papers.)
Because prices cannot be fixed under Australian law, dealers are free to charge whatever price they wish. Also, feel free to bargain - the price could be quite flexible, depending upon the dealership.
Lastly - consult an independent automotive locksmith. These people are professionals who can advise you on lower-cost replacement options - if they exist for your car.
As Sydney Radio 2UE's motoring expert, I get a steady stream of calls on air from people with lost key problems. Generally these relate to shock (or despair) at the incredible price manufacturers quote for replacement key sets.
An independent locksmith who was recommended to me is a young bloke named Blake Cole. Blake's contact details are here:
0428 827 908
After putting some listeners with lost and jammed key problems onto Blake, the reports I'm getting are very positive. Give him a go; he might save you some considerable money.