/ 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?

Tom Keenan says:
18 January 2022

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