CONSUMER REPORTS — Depending on your age, or the age of your car, you might not even remember life before a key fob. After all, these now common fobs offer many conveniences.

But maybe you’ve experienced the downside.

“The cost to replace the latest key fobs can cost as much as $400 or more depending on the brand. Then add another $20 to $130 to program the thing to work with your car–It could add up to $500 in some cases!” said Mike Quincy, Consumer Reports Autos Editor. 

Before shelling out any money for a replacement, check your warranty, auto insurance or roadside assistance coverage to see if they cover the cost of replacing lost or damaged keys. 

If your car is less than five years old, chances are you’ll have to go directly to a dealership that has the expensive equipment required to program a new key fob.

But, If you have a car that’s a little older, Consumer Reports says you likely can save money by purchasing an aftermarket key fob. 

“You can search online for fobs based on the make and model of your car. We found a number of options on Amazon and Walmart, along with online auto part stores for sometimes 200-dollars less than the dealer,” Quincy said. 

Many of these less advanced fobs can be laser cut and programmed by your local mechanic or locksmith, but if you’re up for the challenge, programming it yourself can be a fun DIY project.

“You’ll find all the instructions in the owner’s manual. Just know that most customer-programmable key fobs will require two current working keys in order to program the new one,” said Quincy. 

If you do end up needing to get a new fob at the dealer, the good news is that the process is pretty quick, typically taking just 15-30 minutes.

For added convenience, a mobile locksmith can replace many fobs, programming and cutting the keys right in your driveway.