Key Fob Programming Cost

Cost to Program a Key Fob

Last Updated on December 22, 2022
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

It used to be that if you lost your car key, the only option was going down to a locksmith. But now with an electronic fob system for keys- it’s much more complicated and costly.

There are some people who have a separate key that starts the car and can also unlock the doors. If this is your situation, then replacing or reprogramming a key fob would not be vital because you could still use that same original key to get in and out of your vehicle.

There are other key fobs that can be found attached to the actual keys. If you were to lose or destroy this part, you will only have the option of getting a new one.

The key fob is a small, wireless device that attaches to your car keys or keychain. It’s capable of unlocking the doors and trunk via radio signals from its short-range transmitter.

How much does it cost to program a key fob?

The average cost of programming a key fob can be from $40 to 100, but will mostly depend on your car’s make and model. Most people are able to do this on their own, which most of the time will be the cheapest alternative.

This is the price for the programming labor only and won’t include other costs like a key or entry device. The estimate can easily change to $100-$300 if you were to need the key or keyless system and purchase these items at a local dealership.

You might also like our articles about the cost of a car keyless entry system, to copy a key, or to use a KeyMe kiosk.

After some research, we found the following data on what car owners paid for this type of service at dealership prices and private shops:

Car Make/Model Cost to Program the Key Fob
Dodge Journey $60
Chevy Impala $35
Ford Explorer $75
Dodge Ram $50
Kia Forte $45
Ford Focus $65
MINI Cooper $55
Kia Sorento $98
Nissan Altima $40
Toyota Corolla $73

Keep in mind: The costs above are estimates of programming labor expenses and will not include any keys or keyless entry prices claims that electronic fobs can cost anywhere from $50 to $90, depending on the design’s complexity. At the same time, users on the DodgeTalk forum revealed they paid around $40-$50 for a dealer to program their key fob.

Details on programming a key fob

The key fob communicates with the car via radio wave signals, which will enable it to identify itself and tell the vehicle what is supposed to happen. The memory chips in both devices allow this communication between them. When a button on your key fob gets pressed, an encoded message will be sent from it to your car, telling it what is the next desired action.

For most cars, the key needs to be inserted into the ignition and turned to ‘on’ before being able to program the fob. Once in position, you will usually need to press a button on your fob several times until you hear an acknowledgment sound – this is when programming mode has been activated.

If your key fob for the car is lost, you can purchase one from a third-party locksmith or dealership. The way that it will be programmed depends on what make and model of car it’s being bought for – not which specific key fob is purchased.

Any additional costs to consider?

It’s important to know that the key fob itself will be an additional charge, and it can vary in price. At a local dealer, for example, you could spend upwards of $150+ on both the keys and entry device whereas third-party sellers may sell knockoffs easily at around $25-$50.

Important things to consider

You don’t want to go through the trouble of buying a compatible key online only to find out it doesn’t work for your make and model. Before you buy, be sure to check that what is being offered will work with your car’s make, year, and manufacturer so as to not have any regrets afterward.

If you want to know how to program your remote control, check out for a great resource. Save time and money by following the helpful instructions on the site.

Is there any way to spend less?

Key Fob ExampleIf you bought your car at a dealership, they might be able to program the key for free or for discounted rates depending on what type of vehicle it is. If this isn’t possible then most dealerships should still be willing to offer quotes for these services over the phone if called in advance.

The best way to avoid this fee is by programming the remote key fob yourself. If you are unable to find instructions in your owner’s manual, do not worry. There are many how-to guides on Google that will help walk you through it step-by-step.

There are many options for aftermarket fobs. Aftermarket fobs can be found in online stores or through a local locksmith, but it is important to do your research before purchasing one as some products may be made with cheaper materials and could end up breaking a lot faster than the original manufacturer’s product.

For those who are looking to replace their pre-programmed key fobs, Amazon and eBay offer a variety of options. You can also consider hiring an experienced locksmith for assistance in programming the remote. Either of these two ways will, in the end, be cheaper than going to a dealership.

The process of programming a car key seems intimidating at first, but it really is not that hard. Check out step-by-step guides to learn how to program your own keys in just a few minutes, and you will cut down the costs to a minimum.

1 reply
  1. Joy J
    Joy J says:

    I just got 2 new OEM fobs for my 2014 RAM. I’ve gotten 3 quotes today for programming only at $120 for one only! Dealer and independent.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *