What's a fair price for a replacement key?

What’s a fair price for a replacement key? Ten bucks? Now, how about if it’s one of the new high-tech,anti-theft keys that is uniquely programmed to match your car? A few hundred?

How about two grand.

That’s what Sharon’s friend’s dealer wants to get her a new key for her 2000 Saab C93. For that price, she can get a new car. (Well, by Tommy’s standards, anyway).

Got any suggestions for her, that might save her a grand – or two? Share them right here. And, as always, thanks.

Not sure about the Saab (moved recently and my backissues of the locksmithing trade journals are still in a box), but most cars with transponder keys do have a lost key recovery procedure, though it typically takes several hours. (The whole point, after all, is to come up with something that’s too much trouble and too risky for a car thief…) So if the dealer can’t help you for a reasonable price, try a good locksmith who does car work; they may well be able to offer a better solution.

I’ve heard of this on (at least some) Saabs, if the car was locked with the remote then you have to replace the whole alarm system if you lost the remote. If she wants an opinion from someone who really knows Saabs, I know TW at thesaabsite.com can tell her exactly what parts she needs and what to tell her mechanic.

I’ve heard dealers have huge markups on some things, she might be able to save a lot just by getting the parts herself if she has a mechanic who can install them. How much of the $2000 is parts and how much is labor?

I had the same problem with a Lexus key. Solved it by buying a blank uncut key (not programmed yet) for about $15, and then found a locksmith in a nearby large city who agreed to program the key for $40. Your problem is more complicated, because the Saab uses three matched components (an antenna, a theft computer, and a transponder-type ignition key. If you had one working key, and less than four keys had ever been programmed to work with the antenna and theft computer, it would be possible to program another key. But because you have no key, all three components need to be replaced, and then the transponder key has to be programmed. EBay has one listing for a used set of key, antenna, and computer for about $400 plus shipping. It’s listed as Saab 9-3 2000 Convertible Ignition Key, Theft Computer. If you bought those items, the Saab dealer would still have to remove and replace the items, and program the ignition key, so I wouldn’t try to buy this stuff unless the dealer agreed to use the used parts, and gave you a reasonable price for the replacement labor and reprogramming. I have no idea what they would charge, but I’d be really surprised if the replacement work took over an hour or so plus whatever they would charge for the programming. I think most of the high cost you were quoted is in the high prices for a new theft module and antenna. Best of luck, anyway.

The saab guru is here with the definitive answer! Saabs 1999 and up use a wireless immobilizer system. Simply having a key cut will not allow you to start the car. The big key dongle you describe contains a chip that validates the immobilizer. Saab keys must be cut at the dealer as they are a very nonstandard and cut by laser. She needs to buy a TWICE security computer with a new set of keys that match it. While this may cost an arm and a leg from the dealer, you can go over to car-part.com and have a set shipped to you for a few hundred bucks. Just enter your car model, year, make and under part select “computer box (not engine)”, then Theft/Locking, (under drivers seat). It may be found even cheaper on ebay. The key that you receive may be different depending on the year of the vehicle. Cars made 2000 and newer have the immobilizer integrated with the key instead of the external dongle but all are interchangeable. Also note that the TWICE computer is interchangeable between 9-3 vehicles (1999-2002) and 9-5 (1999-present). The important thing is that when you buy the TWICE that you get the keys that match it. In other words you need the keys of the vehicle from which the TWICE was pulled. You will need to transfer the immobilizer chip from the old key into a new key which the dealer will cut for you. All in all I think it could be done for about $500. See thread here http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=117960&highlight=lost+keys

My “old” trucks look so good at times like this.

I forgot to mention that your TWICE needs to be reprogrammed so that it can talk to all the different computers inside the car. Anyway, the dealer will know what to do once you have the new unit. A Saab tech II is needed for programming so this can only be done by a dealer or Saab specialist. Good luck.

Good work Sam. I’d like to point out another Saab info resource with supporting information.

Remember to look into filing an insurance claim.

tkaustin - She doesn’t have a 9-3SS 03-present, she has a 99-02 so those links won’t be of help on her car.

I had a 2000 Saab 9-3 and as I recall the dealer told me when I bought it to never lose both keys. Back then it was a $1200 job that included a new computer and keys. So, I don’t think the Saab dealer mentioned on your show was blowing smoke.

Try your local locksmith.

I bought a 2003 9-3 on ebay a few years ago and like the caller, my car came with only one key. The key went missing and I called my local SAAB dealer to see what could be done. The service manager said I had to find the key. I said I can’t find the key. He said you have to find the key. (I live in NJ and this kind of passive agressive behaviour is the rule not the exception) After playing his silly game back and forth for a while, I asked what if I really can’t find the key. He said, as the callers’ dealer did, that I would need to get a new computer to the tune of $1200. I then figured out that the key must be locked in the trunk since the last I saw it was when I gave it my daughter to get her bookbag out of the trunk. Thinking I was on easy street I called Onstar to have them do their famous remote unlocking trick only to be told they were sorry but that feature was not available with my model. They did send a locksmith who was able to jimmy the door and by removing and tapping the battery terminal while my wife pressed the interior trunk button get the trunk unlocked, revealing the lost key. The caller my try the other solution I was going to try, which was tracking down the original owner and seeing if they still had the other key.

Copy the key beforehand, and keep it in your fire safe in your house.

There is a difference between copying an existing key, and trying to make a replacement when no key is available to copy.

Sharon, I used two companies that I found on the internet. For the Fob, I used a company called Keyless Ride. I obtained the Fob for less than half of what the dealer charged and avoided the expensive dealer programming fees. For the key I used a company called Street Keys. I saved a massive amount of money by purchasing these items on the internet and programming them myself. Good Luck!

We’ve had 5 Saabs, including a 9-5 with the type of key Sharon describes. We misplaced a key and replaced it, and our garage (Saab specialist but not dealer) activated the new one, disabling the lost one. Later, the lost one turned up, and the garage reactivaed it for about $40.

Someone else describes a similar experience:

I recently had my fob and key stolen; along with my car! The car was recovered without the key/fob. I purchased a new fob via Ebay and had it programmed at my local dealer for $45. I ordered a replacement key through the dealer for $40 and it was shipped within 2 days. Be prepared to show your title.

BTW, “Troubleshooter’s” advice to do what already cannot be done is condescending and pointless.

The first thing I’m going to do tomorrow is go to the dealer and have another key made for my husband’s truck and see if I can also get another remote, as I don’t know where we put the other one. Then, when I get my own vehicle back from my husband (who is working in another city), I am going to do the same with it because it has an alarm system also.

This was the highlight of Show #806 for me. It put everything into perspective. The dealer can make a spare key as long as you have the original one. I imagine there will be a glut of keys being made tomorrow at dealerships all across the country over this one! It’s something that I always mean to do and forget when I take my vehicles in for service, but now I will do it. Nice to learn from other folk’s woes. All of this advice has spooked me.

I have a 2000 Saab 9-5 wagon that I bought used with only one key. I had a quote from my local Saab dealership for a new key that was very very expensive. I went to my local Saab specialist (Waynes World of Saabs) who is probably the most knowledgeable Saab guy I know. As long as you still have one key, you can order a key to be cut and with the Saab Tech II can re-program the new key when you turn the car on with the other. Sam is correct about needing a whole new computer if you lose both keys. I just thought I would submit this little tid bit for those who only have one key and have been scared off by their local Saab dealer for the cost of a spare. I was able to get my spare for under $200. j.scherer wakefield RI

I can’t give a fair price, though I would imagine something more along the lines of $1200 at a dealer. The suggestions about where to get a new fob or key won’t work. SAAB anti-theft computers require one working key to grant unencrypted access to reprogram new remotes/keys. As you have no functioning computer chip keys, you cannot program a new one. If you want to save money, but a used TWICE unite and have someone install it and the dealership hook it up to the Tech II computer to marry the parts to the car. For Saab 9-5’s (at least '99-'02, I’m not sure about newer ones) if you have one good key you can add more. You can also add more key fobs. Should you find a used TWICE unit with only one key, buy a used fob and have it married to the new TWICE unit so you only have to pay for the actual cut key at the dealer.

The law of unintended consequences lives on. With improved ignition lock protection systems, the only way to smoothly steal a car is to wait until the owner is in it with the keys, either getting into it. out of it, or already driving it. This is called “carjacking.” Carjacking became popular with the development of more secure ignition locks. In the days of 60-second car thefts, there was no need for carjackings.

Tough choice: more car thefts and fewer people shot, beaten, raped then shot, and back-seat babies unintentionally kidnapped, or fewer car thefts and more carjackings.

Very good point.

One solution to the whole Saab problem is to never buy a Saab or any other car that costs $2000 for a key replacement. Hopefully Saab will read these posts and do something, if only lowering the cost on these replacements. Perhaps a class-action lawsuit?

Sharon, I’d find a lawyer and/or push this up the Saab food chain.