What’s the Cheapest Way To Replace a Lost Vehicle Key Fob?

Written by |

Raise your hand if you’ve ever lost something.

If both of your hands are still down, I’m assuming you’re lying or don’t feel like getting questioned by those around you.

Whether it’s your wallet, your keys or your sunglasses, you’ve misplaced or left something at some point in your life. But what do you do if you lose the key fob to your car? And how do you replace your key fob while spending as little as possible?

That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.

How Do I Replace the Key Fob for My Car As Cheaply as Possible?

If you lose the key fob to your car, what’s the cheapest way to replace it?

That’s what a Clark listener wanted to know.

Asked Guy in Georgia: “What is the cheapest way to replace a key fob that has been lost for a 2019 Toyota Highlander?”

Clark bought a replacement key on eBay when he needed to. But the key (pun intended!) to saving on a replacement fob is comparison shopping.

“You want to see what you’re going to be charged,” Clark says.

Clark and his producer Christa rattled off a series of potential options depending on your vehicle brand:

  • eBay
  • Independent shops
  • Car dealerships for that brand
  • Program it yourself online (Tesla, for example)
  • Locksmith
  • Battery stores (Batteries Plus, for example)

It’s also possible that your roadside assistance company like AAA can help you, especially if your car only requires a key instead of a technologically advanced fob.

Your car insurance company may be able to replace the key or key fob as well, although you probably don’t want to file that type of small claim while insurance premiums are skyrocketing.


How Much Will It Cost To Replace My Key Fob?

It’s difficult to pinpoint a good price on a replacement car key or key fob because there are so many variables. J.D. Power estimates $50 to $500 depending on the type of key, make and model of your vehicle, location, time of day and more.

Some key fobs are required to start your vehicle or work as part of anti-theft design rather than just being used to lock and unlock your car.

“Even basic remotes may require special programming with computer software only accessible by a dealership,” Kelley Blue Book says.

A trusted source for vehicle pricing, Kelley Blue Book says it contacted car dealerships across the country. Replacement costs ranged from as little as $150 for a 2017 Honda Accord to $2,000 for a crystal fob included with some Aston Martin models.

Kelley Blue Book also says that battery replacement for key fobs typically costs $10 or less. And that many times, there’s a way to access and drive your vehicle when your key fob is dead.

Final Thoughts

Losing your vehicle key fob can be crippling. For many of us, access to our cars is as necessary to daily life as our smartphones.

If you’re in that situation, don’t panic. Make sure you do some comparison shopping so you don’t cost yourself tens or even hundreds of dollars on the wrong deal.

A simple Google search should give you guidance on how much your key fob replacement should cost based on the specific make and model.