How to copy a key fob for your vehicle
At CloneMyKey we don’t offer the service of duplicating car keys, but we often receive inquiries about where to do so. Here’s our best advice!
You might want to reconsider how you phrase your search. Using the term Key Fob might be putting you off track. While there aren’t any strict definitions for these technologies, we’ve noticed that tweaking the search terminology helps our customers out a lot.
Types of Automotive Keys
This typically refers to keys that allow access to apartments, condos, offices, and other buildings.
CloneMyKey specializes in copying this technology.
Since you’re reading this article for copying an automotive key, you probably don’t have this.
Automotive Metal Key
This is your standard, old-school metal key that has been used to start automobiles for decades. These keys have become more complex in recent years. Recent iterations have been developed that make creating copies difficult and sometimes impossible. For the latest releases, often the vehicle manufacturer is the only source capable of creating copies (see our recommendations below).
The classic remote that hangs from a keychain contains buttons to unlock and lock your vehicle. This remote may also feature a trunk opening function, and even a panic button that sets off your car’s horn in emergency situations. However, the remote itself will not start the car (refer to the proximity key below).
Newer remotes often now contain a concealed metal key that can be utilized as a backup to gain access to the vehicle if the remote’s battery has died or the remote itself has been damaged.
Switchblade Car Key
This is a combination of the above two technologies (Remote + Metal Key). It’s a remote with push-buttons for gaining entry to the vehicle. This key also contains an additional button that, when pressed, releases a metal key in a manner reminiscent of a switchblade. This part is used to start the vehicle using the traditional method of inserting it into the ignition and rotating.
Transponder Key Technology
This technology can be incorporated into any of the above keys (metal, remote, switchblade). It includes a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) computer chip embedded in the key that communicates with the vehicle.
Older vehicles (typically those from 2011 and earlier) contain simple RFID chips that transmit a code, which the vehicle verifies before starting. This code does not change, and this technology can easily be copied today, see recommendations below.
Newer vehicles (typically from 2011 and onwards) have RFID chips that transmit a more complex code. Each time the key is used, a unique, one-time-use code from the chip is transmitted and verified by the vehicle before it starts. This helps protect the vehicle owner from malicious actors attempting to steal their vehicle with a surreptitiously copied key. This technology is often referred to as rolling-code, which is the primary protection method used in many radio-based access control systems — including garage door and gate remotes.
This newer and incredibly convenient technology enables users to leave their keys in their pockets. The process of locking and unlocking is simply completed by walking up to the vehicle door and touching the handle. Once inside the vehicle, users typically can start the engine with the press of a button. This key is often combined inside a remote that locks and unlocks your car from a distance.
Cool Fact: Most newer vehicles can detect if the proximity key is left inside and will prevent the user from locking the vehicle. This feature helps to avoid accidental lock-outs.
Digital Phone Key
Several automotive brands are introducing methods for accessing and using vehicles via mobile phone technology. Mobile phone manufacturers are also developing their own technologies, which some vehicle manufacturers are starting to adopt. This technology communicates with the vehicle through one of several methods, including near field communication (NFC), Bluetooth, or even the ultra-wideband (UWB) chips found in the latest generation of phones.
Worth mentioning Some vehicles incorporate a built-in cellular modem. This technology allows users to interact with their vehicles via the internet, enabling functionalities like locating the vehicle, locking/unlocking it, and even starting it to either warm or cool the interior. However, this technology is not intended for authentication purposes, and therefore does not permit users to fully operate the vehicle.
What Should It Cost?
It’s no surprise that prices vary widely. Generally, the older your vehicle, the less it should cost to replace the key. The technology used and the specific manufacturer significantly influence the cost.
To help our readers get a ballpark figure of what the expected cost for their vehicle might be, we asked Google Bard to compile a list of average costs for some popular vehicle manufacturers. These prices are generally the highest of any available options, but you’re guaranteed to get a working key. This method is also probably the least hassle, unless your vehicle is old enough for the do-it-yourself (DIY) option below to work.
Manufacturers prices for a replacement vehicle key*
Land Rover $200-$500
*While we find this information useful, bear in mind that Google Bard is an experimental AI. For the most accurate price, please reach out to your vehicle’s manufacturer.
Freqently Asked Questions
How many copies can I make of my car key?
This typically depends on the technology used in your vehicle. You can copy an older metal key as many times as you want. However, the more advanced the technology, the more likely there will be a maximum limit on how many keys the vehicle allows to be registered at once.
Can I switch technologies to make my car smarter?
Typically, the access control technology in a vehicle is deeply integrated into the vehicle itself, making it difficult to replace. Many third-party companies offer additions such as remote start, a feature that warms up or cools down the vehicle prior to use. Often, this technology comes bundled with aftermarket car alarms and additional features, including proximity unlocking and long-range remotes or cellular control. Running a search for local shops that install car alarms and stereos is a great place to start.
Someone has a copy of my car key. How can I secure my car to prevent them from using it?
This depends on the technology your car uses. If you have an old-school metal key, you’ll need to contact the manufacturer or a local auto shop. They can replace your ignition and provide you with new keys, rendering all previous keys non-functional.
In newer vehicles, all keys are uniquely coded, allowing you or the manufacturer to cancel specific keys. However, this still requires a trip to the auto shop. If you decide to take this path, make sure to bring all the keys you want to keep working for your vehicle. They will need these to identify which key should be deactivated.
Best options for copying your vehicle key
Sometimes, duplicating your car, truck, or SUV’s key can be as simple as visiting your local hardware store. However, if your vehicle is newer, the process might be more complicated. Regrettably, some newer keys still cannot be copied.
Overwhelmed? Want to speed things up and let the professionals determine your best option?
Almost all situations require the presence of your vehicle to duplicate keys, hence it’s optimal to find a local service provider. We recommend reaching out to local companies offering installation services for car alarms, remote starters, and car stereos. While these companies might not directly provide key copying services, they can often guide you to the right resources.
Dealership (Typically Most Expensive)
Since you are reading this page on a website that specializes in key duplication, we’re going to assume that you’ve already considered this option. This is often the easiest, albeit typically the most expensive choice.
It’s worth noting that all options carry a small rate of failure. Turning to your dealership likely provides the highest chance of success. Always review return and refund policies before using a key duplication service.
Locksmith & Hardware Stores (Typically Moderately Priced)
Most locksmiths, as well as many hardware stores, offer metal key cutting services for older vehicles (2011 and older). If your vehicle uses a newer remote, or if your key contains a transponder chip, this option is much less likely to work. We recommend contacting your local store before visiting. Employees should be able to determine if they can copy your key once they have your vehicle’s information.
Key Copying Kiosks (Typically Cheap)
Key copying kiosks are being installed in many major retail and grocery stores. These machines often have the capability to cut complex automotive metal keys, providing a convenient option for customers to walk away with a fully functional metal automotive key.
In addition to this, kiosks are starting to offer options for customers with remotes, switchblade keys, transponder, and even proximity key technologies. These additional services require the kiosk company to mail a device capable of programming the key into the vehicle’s on-board computer in order for it to work. Instructional videos are provided to guide customers through this surprisingly straightforward experience.
Do It Yourself (Typically the cheapest)
For older vehicles, typically those from 2011 and earlier, you might be able to order a remote online that you can program yourself. You’ll still need to go to your local locksmith to have the metal key portion physically cut. Online retailers offer DIY key copying support for many vehicle brands. You can explore other options by visiting online stores like Amazon and searching for a replacement car remote.