/ Motoring

You won’t believe the cost of a spare car key…

How much does it cost to replace your car key? Let’s just say that for a modern car, you’re not looking in the tens of pounds. Have you ever had to buy a replacement car key, and did you feel ripped off?

A few weeks ago, I went to get some spare house keys cut. It cost me £14.50 for two cylinder keys and a mortice key.

Although I was expecting to pay a little less, on reflection, I felt that was a pretty fair deal – after all, security is worth paying for, right?

However, I’m glad I didn’t need to buy a spare key for my car.

The expense of car keys

Of the hundreds of Which? members who contact us every month, one query caught my eye. The member described the cost of getting a new car key as ‘exorbitant’ – and suggested we investigate.

I quickly got on the phone to some of the car dealers in my area. I asked them to quote the cost of a year-old version of their most popular medium or large car.

The average price of a key from Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Ford, Vauxhall and Hyundai? £174!

Every single manufacturer I’ve spoken to so far charges well over £100 for a replacement key. Ford was the cheapest at £130 (admittedly this isn’t for the latest Focus), while Audi and Mercedes both asked for a whacking £228.

Are car keys a rip-off?

I have to say, I certainly like the convenience of remote central locking. But the latest must-have feature (one which is being promoted by Ford in the current Fiesta adverts) is “keyless entry”. This requires even more sophisticated chips and transponders inside the key – ultimately pushing the price up.

I rang another Ford dealer and found that a keyless fob for a new Fiesta (the UK’s biggest-selling car) costs £193, while a normal key is ‘just’ £135.

Car keys perform what is, in essence, a very simple job. They let you into your car and start it. Do they really need to be quite so complicated – and expensive? Or do you think the convenience of a remote locking or keyless system is worth the extra cost?

Comments

Just been quoted £230 from Cheapcarkeys (Scotland), autolocksmith, for a fob and recoding for a Ford Kuga!

PG Pope says:
14 March 2022

My wife just bought a replacement Jeep Renegade key for over £400. That’s just the electronic version. If she wanted the physical key with the little cover at the end it was another £100 plus.

Dave says:
7 May 2022

£250 for a VW Passat key, the second best price was £450! The car is only worth £2k, car keys are a massive scam!

Mark says:
9 June 2022

Quoted £175 for replacement key/fob for Nissan Qashqai. Insult to injury, a further £60 to programme the item. ( from Dealership from whom I bought the car new 19 months ago).
2 questions, firstly why does it cost more than a low- end Laptop computer? And secondly, how long does it take to “programme” ? Let’s assume it takes an experienced operative 30 minutes ( no way!) to carry out the task. At £120/ hour I am obviously in the wrong profession.
This is seriously RIP Off territory.

In the UK there are regulators that try to help protect consumers. For example there is Ofcom that regulates communication service providers, and Ofwat regulates the water companies. Perhaps we need a regulator to oversee the pricing of spare car keys, maybe Offrip.