Lost Keys Help!
January 12, 2007 4:38 PM   Subscribe

My friends lost the keys to their 1999 Toyota Sienna. They were told that they can't just get a new key made, so they'll need to pay $1500 for a new computer for the van. Are there other less expensive options? Thanks in advance!
posted by GoshND to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My roommate was in a similar situation. She lost her key, which apparently has an RFID tag and (according to the dealer) can't be duplicated. After frantically calling around (it was a dire emergency) she found a locksmith that knew how to get around this somehow. It cost her $150 I think.

Bottom line: call locksmiths, and keep calling until you find someone that knows the workaround.
posted by mullingitover at 4:51 PM on January 12, 2007

At first I couldn't believe they'd been told this, but after Googling I found this:
"Today auto companies have consumers by the keys. And none do so more than Mercedes Benz and Toyota which require some consumers to get a new computer to get a new key. With the advent of smart keys with embedded computer chips, the days of a consumer going to the local hardware store to get a replacement have all but vanished. Based on a survey of 50 makes and models, the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) found the average dealer price of a smart key to be over $150, more than 12 times the average dealer price of a mechanical key at $12....If one has to replace a computer to get a new smart key, the costs soars to $2,200 for a Toyota and $3,600 for a Mercedes.*
Wow. Just wow. BTW -- in that same link was this:
"Although the auto companies have not outwitted the thieves, they have created a monopoly on replacement keys by not releasing the electronic key codes to locksmiths and aftermarket key suppliers. Although eBay has a limited market in replacement smart keys... it works only if the consumer can find the right key and then get the key programmed."
So, it appears that there is an aftermarket, if you can get a match.
posted by ericb at 4:58 PM on January 12, 2007

Best answer: simple googling...


even cheaper

posted by Dreamghost at 5:00 PM on January 12, 2007

Even cheaper, try Toyota keys from anyone else's Toyota. Used to be that they were the easiest to steal because just about any Toyota key would open any Toyota. Learned this when a friend's vehicle got stolen.
posted by Listener at 5:40 PM on January 12, 2007

Do they have any paperwork from when they bought the car, or do they have the owner's manual (assuming it's not locked in the car in the glovebox). My Jetta had a little plastic thing the size of a piece of gum that had a bar code and some other number, and if I ever lost the keys I could have had a new one programmed using the numbers on the plastic thing (I understand it would still have cost $$ to get the key made). I filed it away with my contract & stuff after I bought the car. Might the Toyotas have something similar, and might they still have it lying around somewhere?
posted by peep at 6:47 PM on January 12, 2007

California has a new law to address these keys. Here is a useful AAA article.
posted by Fins at 8:04 PM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

And these RF keys are no longer the deterrant that they were....good wired article on this. They seem to be easily cloned
posted by clarkie666 at 10:01 PM on January 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

The VW dealer reluctantly made us new keys for the Jetta and the Passat after my wife lost her entire key ring. That was after claiming for a week or two that it couldn't be done unless we had the locks physically changed and the cars reprogrammed.

Turns out, they were lying, but it still cost us over $300 for two keys. They made them with just the VINs from the cars. Didn't even take my set from me to copy, like you do with house keys.
posted by ctmf at 9:17 AM on January 13, 2007

When I bought my Toyota, the dealer stressed very loudly to me that it was IMPORTANT not to lose the keys, but that the dealer could always make me a replacement as long as I had one existing key. Only if both keys were lost would it require a new computer.

Basically: lose one key, $150. Lose both keys, $2500. Valet key doesn't count.
posted by Malor at 9:53 AM on January 13, 2007

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