If you buy a newer car, you'll find that having a spare key for the car made at your dealers will cost $150 to $200. Ouch! This is because the newer cars require transponder keys. The keys need to be cut as before, but they also have electronics in the fob that communicate with the car itself.
I read about getting transponder key "blanks" in a newspaper column a few months ago, and I ordered keys for our cars. One is a 2008 Toyota, and the other is a 2010 Subaru. The newspaper column made it seem that the process was easy -- just go to the internet stores that the column recommended, buy the transponder keys, and you are basically done. I'm here to tell you that it is not so easy.
Getting a blank transponder key is only the first step. Once you have a blank key (the one for my Toyota cost $15), you have to find a locksmith that has the proper programming tools and program for your car. No locksmith in the Monterey, California area where I live could do this for me. The dealers, of course, refuse to do this. I called the internet store to ask for a solution and they recommended that I consult a web directory to find auto locksmiths in my area. I did so, and I found the names of a few auto locksmiths in the San Jose area, about a 2 hour drive from Monterey.
Out of four auto locksmiths that I called, only one person was remotely friendly or helpful. All the others quoted a price of $150 or more, or acted like they did not understand what I wanted to do. I drove up one weekday on other business and stopped off at Schwenk Lock & Safe, near Valley Fair shopping mall in San Jose. The owner, Yevgeny, was a jovial, very nice and helpful person. He berated be (nicely) for buying a transponder key on the internet, and then spent a good 30 minutes getting my key to work. He warned me continually that it was possible that after all his work, that the key would not work. In the end, it did work, and he charged me a measly $35 for all his time. I highly recommend these folks. I also recommend that you call them first, find out if they can get the transponder key for you ahead of time, and then bring in your car for a spare key. This will be the most efficient and painless way to get a spare key for your newer model car mde.
My 2010 Subaru is too new for the auto locksmith. I'll be returning the key to the internet store, and I'll post here if they do or do not honor their "no questions asked, no time limit" return policy.
Here are the vendors I used:
For the transponder keys: www.autotransponder.com, 1-866-595-9596. This internet store supplied me with the key "blanks." I do believe that their FAQ page was a bit misleading. It states, among other things: "New keys can be cut from a spare original. Transponder key comes with complete instructions, which require a second working programmed key. "
The truth is, my keys came with no instructions whatsoever. Creating a working spare key from the transponder requires that the actual car be present along with a working programmed key. If I had been told this first, it would have saved a few hours of driving around looking for locksmiths and visiting the car dealer in Monterey.
To find an auto locksmith in my area: www.autolocksmithfinder.com
The auto locksmith that programmed my Toyota key: Schwenk Lock & Safe, 60 N Winchester Blvd #4, San Jose, CA. firstname.lastname@example.org, 408-978-0403.