Cheapest and most legitimate way to replace 2017 Toyota Prius key fob
September 3, 2019 4:51 PM   Subscribe

My friend lost my 2017 Toyota Prius key fob. I still have my spare key- but what's the cheapest way to replace the lost key?

I anticipate the dealership will probably rip me off, but if anyone has ever done this and done it successfully, I would really appreciate if you could please help me out with the steps. I found replacement parts but I'm pretty unclear on what to do after. I'm trying to cut costs so that my friend won't have to pay that much for the replacement =/ Thanks!
posted by yueliang to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Try a local hardware store that will do fob replacement; my sister got her fob (for a 2008 Toyota Rav4) fixed at a local Ace hardware.
posted by suelac at 5:38 PM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

When this happened to me with a leased car, I found a locksmith who was willing to program a new key fob for my car after a couple said no. He made it really clear that he wasn’t supposed to do it. I don’t remember how I paid for it, but he hinted that he wasn’t telling his boss. Make sure you find someone otherwise trustworthy if you go this route.
posted by centrifugal at 5:40 PM on September 3, 2019

Did key fob insurance come with your car when you bought it? My car, bought new from a Toyota dealership, came with automatic key fob replacement insurance. I had separate insurance and didn't pay extra. I recall they needed a code from the car to create a new fob, and it took most of a day. That part surprised me, but maybe the magic of key fob replacement is more more complicated and time-consuming than I think. Anyway, it cost nothing.
posted by citygirl at 5:40 PM on September 3, 2019

It occurs to me that this was only such a drama because the car was leased - mods, feel free to delete that comment if it’s unhelpful!!
posted by centrifugal at 5:49 PM on September 3, 2019

You own this car, right? Then it shouldn't be an issue if you take it to a third-party store, which will also be far cheaper for you than the dealership. When we bought our current (2013) Honda Fit, the previous owners had lost the spare key, and we had another made up in a local locksmith's. It was about a hundred bucks, which is still about half what the dealership we bought it from quoted us, and we got one of the fancy folding keys where the metal key part flips out like a switchblade. (Well, fancy for if you're not using the push button starts, anyway.)

You may need to have your paperwork proving you own the car. You may also find that there are locksmiths-in-a-van who will come and cut/program the key for you on the spot, too, depending on your area. Definitely start with locksmiths, though.
posted by sciatrix at 6:16 PM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don't have a Prius but I did some googling:

Yours is a Gen4 Prius (the newest kind) which might be useful information if you're asking a locksmith to do it.

With older generations it appears you could pair and program fobs at home (there are directions online for this) but this likely presented security holes. The newest appear to require a handheld device called a "Techstream / MiniVCI" that looks like this.

This means either a tech savvy locksmith/mechanic or the dealer. A previous replier got the sense that locksmiths aren't allowed to do it - that might be true or it might've been a way for that locksmith to make some under-the-table cash.

If you have a locksmith or local mechanic you trust you could try them, but given the complexity of it and not wanting to drive around all day looking for a locksmith/mechanic with the Techstream device, I'd consider just splitting the cost with your friend so hassle is saved for everyone.
posted by bluecore at 6:35 PM on September 3, 2019

I recently asked this about my 2011 Prius. Here's my resolution: Getting the correct keyfob is non-trivial, even for locksmiths. Keyfob was @ 100USD, cutting the actual key was 40(there's a key in the keyfob, in case of dead battery). Local locksmith charged 100 for programming, had the computer & program and cables and experience to do it quickly and accurately. So, locksmith was the right choice. Also, there's a numeric code that allows unlocking in case of lockout and no key at all, and he provided that, which I will store online. Dealer would have been much more, they're rapacious bastidges.
posted by theora55 at 6:48 PM on September 3, 2019

I looked into this about my 2011 Subaru last year, and what theora55 describes above is the same: a stack of charges/fees that comes out to a couple hundred bucks.

*shrug* They have the tools to do it and I don't, so they're controlling this transaction. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 5:45 AM on September 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I bought the fob and key blank from an online store (I don't remember which one, or I'd link it!) and then called around until I found a locksmith who could both cut the key and reprogram the fobs. It cost about $60 total for all of that.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:03 AM on September 4, 2019

I bought a fob and a key blank from an online store ($) and got it cut based on my spare no problem. It worked for approximately 3 weeks and then suddenly my car wouldn't turn on. I thought the battery was dead and paid to change it ($). I ended up having to get it towed ($) to the dealership and they told me my bootleg key scrambled the main car computer. Then had to pay for the car computer reset and a legit dealership key ($$). Beware! Tell my story around your campfires.
posted by andlee210 at 10:35 AM on September 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

A similar replacement cost me about $80 at my local Ace Hardware.
posted by cross_impact at 12:42 PM on September 4, 2019

Hi all -- thanks so much! I contacted like 8 locksmiths and managed to find one in my area that could program hi-tech car keys and was willing to travel to me, after communicating that I needed it to be programmed with TechStream. With the key fob, programming, cutting, and travel, it ends up being $240. I'm assuming because my car is such a new model so that's why =/ I didn't buy the key replacement insurance, because I think it would've cost more than the actual replacement.

The dealership wanted $381.97, and ACE Hardware was $260, so ACE Hardware is the surprise of this journey and is genuinely awesome. Really appreciate all of your help and knowing exactly what details to state and ask, it was enormously useful in trying to figure out the best way to navigate this stressful situation!
posted by yueliang at 12:06 PM on September 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Order a fob on eBay and follow the instructions available on the Internet to pair it. Since you have a working fob, it's relatively easy. If you don't, you'll need to buy a piece of hardware that plugs into the OBD2/CANBUS port and use some Toyota software to program the new fob.

Last I checked, said hardware cost $20-30 on Amazon and typically includes a CD-R with a not so legitimate copy of the software that goes with it. The nice thing is that it does a lot more than just pairing fobs. Want to get rid of the godawful beeps, or at least make them less unreasonably loud? It will do that. Want to enable the feature that allows you to roll down all your windows by holding the unlock button (or roll them all up by holding the lock button)? That and much more is possible.

Also, dealers lie. Never believe anything a service advisor tells you. If a dealer's experienced mechanic tells you something, still be skeptical, but it's less likely to be a total fabrication.
posted by wierdo at 4:57 PM on September 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

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