Monday, January 13, 2014

They wanted how much for a Key???

We went to Utah to visit family and do some shopping the tail end of December. While we were there, South County Boy managed to bend his copy of my car key (the only spare key to the Camry) to the point were it would no longer start the car nor open the trunk.

We drove home using my keys and when I was out and about, I stopped into the Toyota Dealership to get a quote for making a new set of keys for my car.... and an additional car clicker, since SCB has always wanted one. I handed my keys to the service rep.

A sample of my key

A sample of my clicker
The man in the service department spewed off some numbers really quickly and said something north of $370 and told me it would take an hour. I thanked him for his time and promptly left.

Over $300 for a set? and the guy wanted like 70-80 bucks for just the key? Something couldn't be right... When I told South County Boy about the "quote" he decided to do some research. Apparently most keys now a days have these little chips in them that make them "special"... and so if you car has a chip in the key, copies made will only open the door, and turn the ignition....  (See this You Tube Video if you don't know what i'm talking about).

Since my key looked normal and not like the key in the video... and since SCB's newer Ford Escort "Sally" was currently being driven with a home depot copy key, we decided a little experiment was in order and well worth the possibility of flushing $5 down the toilet to avoid spending $100 for the same thing.

We walked into Home Depot and handed my car key to the clerk and asked him to make a copy. He grabbed a book, looked up our car, and pulled a key out. He told us it was his first time making a key and that he wanted to look everything up to make sure it was correct before trying since the regular key guy was busy. We hung around 5 minutes or so waiting for him to figure out the machine. He told us that they always "cut" the key twice to make sure it really matches the original and to make sure all the excess metal gets cut away.

When he was done, he handed the key to SCB and told him to go see if it would start our car before we paid, offering to try again if it didn't work. The door opened... the car started... so we made a second spare key... and it worked too...

I took both keys and checked out for a grand total of $4.69 with tax.

Talk about a difference. We drove home a few miles with the new key, and then I used the new copy to drive to work the next day, no problems.

Curious, since we still didn't have a second clicker, I called the dealership up on the phone to get a better idea of what they were really wanting to charge. I waited on hold for a while before I finally got a member of the service department to help us out. I asked him for a quote on how much it would cost to get a new key and clicker for my car.

He asked me what type of car I had and I told him an 2004 Camry... not a hybrid but an LE... When he came back, he told me it would be $60 for the key and $129 to program it. When I asked him how much it was for just the key and not the clicker, he was confused. Thankfully since I purchased my car there, he was able to pull up not just the exact make and model of my car, but my exact car. I then spent more time on hold before he told me it would be $43 for a key, $120 for a clicker, and $129 to program the clicker...

How does a clicker that's not also a key magically double the price? You would think a key-clicker combo would be more expensive than just a clicker right? I mean how does my first quote of $60 for a key/clicker combo become $120 for just a clicker since both have the addition of $129 for the labor to program it? (Not to mention how the first quote from the guy HOLDING my keys was $370????)

While I was thinking, he asked if I had the original and when I told him I did, he said good because keys have chips in them and without the Master Key, you can't make copies... We'd have to re-key the whole car...

Playing devils advocate, I asked why a regular old key without any power anything was $43... I mean "couldn't I" just go down to Home Depot and make a copy there? In response, the guy put on his "smart" voice and told me again that keys have chips in them, and if I were to make a copy, the copy would only turn the ignition, not start the car... Like in the you tube video.

When I asked him "what if it does start the car" the guy said, well then I guess its okay, but they don't do that. I had him re-quote just the clicker price to me and he told me again $120 the clicker, plus $129 for the labor to program it.

For now I'm thinking I some how just saved $40... (technically $80 because now I'm using a spare and my precious master key is in our safe now, along with the bent original spare key) ...

but anyone out there know more about cars than me?


  1. It's a rip off. The battery in the remote unlock for my boyfriend's car is starting to die. The dealership wanted $30 to replace it! Same thing with the radio/cd player. It's the factory default (not very good) and they wanted $600 for a new one + labour to install it. Yeah not happening when we can get a better one for way less somewhere else.

    1. Ya, once the warranty ran out on the Camry, we stopped taking it to the dealership and we found a local place we trust with both our cars. Once hubby found out how much it cost, he told me he'd rather just borrow my keys and use them when we go to Utah next time.