Why are modern car keys so expensive?

December 5, 2016

I was following a series of events this weekend on Grays Harbor Scanner about vehicle prowls in Aberdeen and Hoquiam.

It’s a good reminder as to why modern car keys can cost so much. For the past 10-15 years, the #1 stolen vehicles in America have been mid-late 90’s Honda and Acura models. Why? Because their locks are easily circumvented. In the last few years of the 90’s and into the 2000’s, Acura/Honda and many other manufacturers began implementing Passive Immobilizer systems into many their vehicles during the manufacturing process. The added technology made it more difficult to steal immobilizer equipped vehicles without some very specialized tools. Tools that most thieves don’t have, or are difficult to carry around discretely.

The incorporation of Immobilizers, and in some cases keyless entry, into a modern car key makes the keys more complex when comparing them with older vehicle keys. Not only does the key need to be physically cut to operate the mechanical lock, it must also be programmed to the vehicle’s computer before the it will properly start the engine.

In addition to immobilizers, several other features have been added to some vehicle models over the years. High security keyways and proximity (push-to-start) systems can also add to the cost of modern car keys.

E-Z Key Locksmith, Inc. stocks many modern car keys, we can program and repair keys for most vehicles. Check out our Car Keys page on our website for more information.


BMW and MINI keys in Grays Harbor

September 24, 2016

Making keys for BMW/Mini, and a few other European manufactured cars are a little different than most. The manufacturer pre-programs all the electronic key slots to the vehicle’s computer when it is built. They then keep a record of those key values so when you want another key, they have all the necessary information. They don’t need to program the key to the vehicle, they only initialize it. BMW will not share this information with anyone and the state of California has fined BMW for violation of The Right to Repair Act in the past.

bmw key


So, how does E-Z Key Locksmith, Inc. get around this to make keys for a BMW or Mini? We remove the immobilizer control unit from the vehicle (also called the EWS for BMW/Mini) and read the memory chip that is installed on the circuit board. With that information, we can generate the electronic part of the key. But this method is more labor intensive than what BMW does, and as a result, we are unfortunately more expensive than what the dealers charge.

In some situations, E-Z Key Locksmith, Inc. is the more obvious route for BMW/MINI keys.

  • Lost keys, the nearest BMW dealer is in Fife, that’s a hefty tow bill from Aberdeen, WA.
  • BMW will not sell keys for totaled, salvaged, or rebuilt vehicles.
  • If BMW has already sold all of the available keys for the vehicle, the EWS module would need to be replaced. E-Z Key Locksmith, Inc. can get around that.

Under those situations, E-Z Key Locksmith, Inc. can be a huge benefit to a BMW or MINI owner in Grays Harbor.

What does the chip in a chip key look like? How does it work?

September 23, 2016

Most vehicles on the road today utilize some type of anti-theft technology. Most of them use transponders to accomplish this. The word transponder comes from `transmit` and `respond`.

These transponder `chip` keys are technically RFID tags. They are very similar to what a veterinarian injects under a pet’s skin for tracking purposes. Most of them do not contain or require a battery to function. Instead, the transponder uses a RF signal from an antennae that is mounted around the ignition lock cylinder. The RF signal generates a magnetic field that allows the transponder to power up and send signals to the antennae. Each transponder chip has a unique ID or code, that code is transmitted in the signal when the RFID chip is powered up. The vehicle identifies and allows or denies the vehicle to start based on the code it receives from the transponder chip.

Since a transponder chip key’s code is unique, the vehicle has to be told which code is allowed to start the vehicle. All non-programmed codes are considered as no start conditions. The procedure for adding in new transponder chip to a vehicle’s computer varies widely between manufacturers, and even models in most cases. Often times, special diagnostic equipment is required to program the vehicle’s immobilizer computer to accept new codes.

chip keys

Transponder Chips

Just as programming a transponder chip key to a vehicle is different, the chips themselves vary by manufacturer. The chips have a very thin copper winding that allows the magnetic field to energize the chip. To protect the copper winding and chip, the transponders are usually encased in a glass tube or carbon surrounding to protect them. They also vary in size. The larger glass chip offers better range capabilities while the smaller carbon chips usually have a lesser range. The range requirements are determined by the vehicle manufacturer’s engineers.


E-Z Key Locksmith, Inc. can cut and program transponder chip keys for most vehicles. For more information, or to contact us, visit our website at www.ezkeylocksmith.com.

Car keys in stock

September 19, 2016

I am amazed that some automobile dealerships have a limited stock of the newer car keys for the vehicles they sell. Imagine the frustration, loosing your car keys and towing your car to the dealer only to find out they don’t stock keys for your car. It’s going to be 2-3 days before they can get one. So, you’re stuck with a rental car for a few days, just because the dealership didn’t have your key, or can’t cut your car key and they need to order it.

E-Z Key Locksmith, Inc. carries a wide variety of remotes, transponder chip keys, and smart proximity keys for most manufacturers. If we don’t have the specific car key you need, we can we can overnight the key to us. Getting you back on the road faster with less hassle. There’s no need to tow your car, we can come out to you (if you’re in Grays Harbor or North Pacific County). We can cut and program duplicate keys here at our shop (811 South Montesano Street, Westport, WA) . Call us today, (360) 268-0780. Alternatively, you can visit our website for more information about modern car keys.

Toyota chip keys

A small assortment of our in stock Toyota keys and remotes. We stock chip keys and remotes for most vehicles.

Don’t forget about safe maintenance

August 10, 2016

When it comes to safes, a lockout is never a good situation. It can be very costly to open and then repair the safe. Regular service is the best way to minimize any lockout situations. If a safe is attacked, it’s designed not to open (or at least be very difficult) without a professional for a reason. So keep this in mind and call a professional to service your safe. Most manufacturers recommend once a year, but if the safe is only used a couple times a month and not every day, then every 2 years is acceptable.

At the very least, be sure to replace the batteries regularly. How often depends on the amount of use it gets. Once a year is usually plenty, replace them when you replace your smoke detector batteries. Avoid using cheap batteries, get the good ones. I have been called out to a malfunctioning safe many times, only to discover the customer has replaced the batteries with a discount brand. Duracell Procell Batteries is what we use and what many manufacturers install on new electronic safe locks. Yes, we carry Procell at our shop.

Can I bypass my car’s immobilizer?

April 1, 2014

I was recently asked about bypassing the immobilizer on a vehicle, here’s my opinion.

Doing so is not advisable. Immobilizers are an anti-theft device. Insurance companies know which vehicles are equipped with these types of devices and price their rates accordingly (this is one reason why they ask for your vehicle’s VIN). If your vehicle’s immobilizer was to be made inoperable, and the vehicle was stolen, then you may end up having problems with an insurance claim.

That said, there are some methods for rendering an immobilizer system inoperable. What some lower quality alarm and remote start installers do, is place the transponder chip permanently near the immobilizer antennae. This eliminates the requirement of the chip being in the key itself, making a regular key capable of starting the vehicle. This type of bypass is not recommended for insurance and security reasons. If this bypass performed, then the vehicle could be stolen using physical attacks on the ignition lock.

For more information about Immobilizer systems, please view our webpage at: http://www.ezkeylocksmith.com/Vehicle_ECU_Immobilizer.html

We also offer lost key and other immobilizer service nationwide. For more info, visit: http://www.ezcarkeys.com/

New Webstore

November 4, 2013

We’re proud to announce our new web store. Sales for immobilizer services and reflashing across the country have increased to a point that we felt this was a great method of getting the word out. While the website doesn’t apply much to our local customers for now, it will help us reach even more potential customers across the country.


Immobilizer reflashing

Immobilizer Reset Services by E-Z Key Locksmith, Inc.