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Why is my key so expensive?

Updated: May 11, 2021

Why is my key so expensive?

As an owner of a mobile locksmith business, my staff and I get lots of questions about what sort of key is needed for a certain vehicle. Sometimes the individual is caught off guard, and we get that common question, “why is it so expensive?” So, we’re going to share some information as to how independent locksmiths determine their price.

Car and Key Factors

When preparing a quote for a potential customer, we ask for the year, make, and model of the vehicle. We can then determine what sort of key will be required. A key that needs to be programmed to a keyless entry system will typically be more expensive than a regular metal key. It can vary from cars that are equipped with remote start, proximity, push to start, and so on. Keys for older vehicles can also be more expensive due to lower availability.

That brings us to one of the most important factors that determine a key price. Vendors. Key prices can fluctuate depending on production. These costs can vary from week to week. Due to this competition, locksmiths have to determine if the quality of the key reflects their price point.


There are many forms of equipment needed to complete a service. Tools needed to run a mobile locksmith service vary from lock picking sets, key cutting machines to programmers. Like any specialized trade, we have to continuously incur new tools to meet the demands.

But some devices such as programmers require more support. Manufacturers constantly publish new updates and subscription costs that have to be met. But, like any technology, new systems can render some programmers obsolete.

As a business, we also have to consider the maintenance of a mobile business. We constantly review our inventory to ensure we have what we need. There are other costs such as fuel, insurance, miles added, traffic, that have to be considered.


Customers may not always consider labor as a factor in determining a quote. We can usually determine how we need to go about making a key by the car information. Do we find the key bitting from the door/trunk lock or ignition switch? Sometimes, customers might not have known there were additional issues that require us to remove the steering column. A lot of our work is dependent on technology, but you can’t get away from the physical part of it.

Buying a replacement key for your vehicle can be an expensive purchase. That said, keep in mind that you are not just paying for the price of a key. There are many details that come into play when determining a price. Hopefully, we have shed some light on how independent locksmiths form an estimate.

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