Your Lexus car keys are nowhere to be found, and you have looked everywhere. How do you get a replacement key and fob for your Lexus car or SUV? You get up in the morning and cannot find your keys. You need a new key and fob made. How do you go about getting a key made? Do you have to go to the Lexus dealership, or can you call a locksmith out and get them to do it? Is there a way to save money? The last thing you want to do is buy a remote just to find out it can’t be programmed to your car.
Where can I get replacement Lexus keys?
You have a couple of options if you need a replacement key for your Lexus. Depending on the model, you can take yourself to the dealership to have a key cut or call a locksmith to come to your location. You will need to be able to prove that you are the rightful owner.
The days of a simple key starting a car are over. Today, the remotes we carry are mini-computers that transmit all kinds of commands to the vehicle. If you have a push-button start, the remote not only starts your car but also might lock, unlock, lift the power tailgate, or do several other functions.
And if you find yourself stranded because of a lost transponder key fob, the ordeal can be more than just a minor inconvenience. It can turn into a full-blown crisis that can cost you more money than just a simple reprogramming.
This article will discuss the key fob replacement options for a Lexus. What’s the cost? Where should you buy the fob? We have laid out answers to your questions.
What are My Options To Get a Replacement Key?
You have two options if you require a car key replacement for your Lexus. As mentioned, you can call a mobile locksmith out to your location who will be happy to cut a key for you.
They may not have the capability to program a remote, but most of the time, they can get you back on the road (assuming your ignition is the key type and not push-button start).
The second option is to have your vehicle towed to the dealership. If you have a Lexus with push-button ignition, then you will be forced to buy a new fob and have a technician reprogram the unit so that your car and the fob can talk to each other.
What Kinds of Keys Does Lexus Use?
Over the years, Lexus has used a variety of different keys and fobs for its vehicles. We are going to review them below so that you can identify which combination you need. For an excellent article on replacing keys without having the original, see fourwheeltrends.com.
If you are driving an older Lexus (prior 1980s), you have just a basic key. You are lucky to have a duplicate or spare key because any hardware store can cut another.
Take the key to the counter, and ask them to make a duplicate. The cost is minimal.
If you don’t have the original or spare for your car, you need a new key made. You need to go to the dealership or call a locksmith.
Be prepared with your registration, vehicle identification number (VIN), and/or driver’s license to prove you own the car. A mobile locksmith can come to your location, charge you a fee and get you back on the road pretty efficiently. (By the way, a locksmith is often cheaper than the dealership).
Basic Key and Separate Remote
In the 1990s, cars started including a separate fob that would transmit to the car a couple of essential functions: lock, unlock, and maybe a panic button. If your Lexus is a base model or is older, you may have a separate fob with a detachable key.
This is a simple replacement key because you do not need to program the fob to start the car. All you need is the key. A locksmith can make a temporary key for you, or if they have the fob available, they can program it on site.
This fob configuration has a physical key hidden into the side of the unit. A simple push of a button and the key snaps out, like the blade on a knife. This setup does not require the fob to be programmed as a requirement for starting the car.
The locksmith can make you a straightforward key to get on your way. You can then go to the dealership and purchase a switchblade fob with the fold-out key at a more convenient time.
The only drawback of this kind of thing is that until you have the switchblade fob reprogrammed, you will have to get used to locking and unlocking your car with a key because you won’t have a remote.
Smart Key (A key with three/four buttons on the key)
In 2018, Lexus decided to make a SmartKey that incorporated an immobilizer. In other words, the key has a microchip embedded in the base, which will not allow you to start the car unless the car recognizes that specific key.
While you think you could just make a key, stick it into the ignition, and start the engine, leave it to the folks at Lexus to complicate the matter. After this point, you had to get the thing programmed at a dealership, which meant more money for the dealer’s service department.
Unfortunately, you will have to tow your car to the dealer. (If the car is less than two years old – mileage doesn’t matter – it’s unlimited), then you can call Lexus Roadside Assistance. If you are over two years old, you must spring for a tow truck and carry your Lexus to them.
They will order the key and ensure it is cut and programmed to match the computer signal of your particular vehicle. (Be prepared, many dealerships do not carry this kind of remote in stock – which means it has to be ordered and shipped to the dealership before it can be programmed.
Push Button Start
Many cars manufactured today have push-button starts and a remote start option on the keyfob. These kinds of fobs are self-contained units that may or may not have a physical key.
Chances are you have never seen the physical key because you have grown accustomed to never handling the remote. (Most of these fobs are so bright that the car recognizes the fob in your pocket or purse and unlocks the door as you grab the door handle).
But, believe it or not, the fob you own probably has a key, which fits a lock cylinder hidden under a cap on the door handle. While a physical key might work to get into the car, it will not help you start the vehicle. For that function, you will need a programmed fob.
These kinds of fobs are more advanced than their earlier counterparts. Because the transmitter is more sophisticated, the expense is also more significant. A locksmith may or may not be able to program one of these high-end fobs, so your best bet is to take or tow your car to the dealership.
What Legal Paperwork Will I Need?
This problem is the area that confounds many people. Before anyone (a dealer or a locksmith) will work on your car to get you a replacement key, they will make you prove that you are the rightful owner.
If you are not the legal owner of the vehicle, you will not be able to get a key replaced. It won’t matter how much you cry, whine, or scream at the guy behind the counter. They will not assume the liability for cutting a key based on your word alone.
Current Registration Slip is a Must
To have them perform whatever service you need (key-cutting and/or reprogramming), you will need to show them the current registration from your state. This will show the locksmith that you are the rightful owner and that the car is tagged correctly. (In other words, it can legally be driven on the street).
Valid Driver’s License Is Needed
To operate a motor vehicle, you need to have a valid driver’s license. In this case, a driver’s license proves that you are you and can legally drive the car off the lot.
Imagine what liability a dealership might have if they made a key for a person, who wasn’t supposed to be driving, or got into an accident and killed someone but should never have been driving in the first place. No one wants to find themselves on the short end of a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Will Getting a Replacement Key Cost?
Depending on the kind of key and fob configuration you have, the cost can be from a couple of hundred dollars to close to eight hundred.
If your budget is tight and the key can be cut to start the car, go that route and program the remote later. You can expect to pay a cutting fee at the dealership or with the locksmith and then at least one hour of labor (around $135) for the technician’s time to program any remote.
So, you will be out the cost of the remote (price varies depending on the remote used) plus a cutting fee and an hour of labor for reprogramming. The cost should be around 200 – 300 dollars (if you get the fob programmed).
If you have a push-button start remote/fob, you will have to incur the expense of ordering the part from the dealership and then having the service department reprogram the remote to your vehicle. These kinds of remotes can be expensive to the tune of several hundred dollars. The dealership will charge you an hour of labor to reprogram it, so be prepared to pay more.
And be prepared to wait at the dealership for a long time because most service departments are very busy and will have to squeeze you into their already overly packed schedule.
So, don’t expect to go up to the dealership an hour after your car lands and drive away (that is not going to happen).
Doesn’t My Phone Start the Car?
In 2015, Lexus introduced the Enform Remote Start feature, which allows you to start your vehicle from your smart device (phone, tablet, etc.). The car will run for ten minutes and then shut off. (The reason is due to how the system works.
Remember that if your car is locked, you can start your car from the phone app or a remote. The moment you walk to the car and grab the handle, the car is supposed to recognize the remote you should be carrying in your pocket and open the door. The action of opening the door or depressing the brake shuts the engine off. You must push the start button to engage the engine again).
So you can see that even if you get your car started via the app on your phone, you won’t be able to drive the car anywhere because there is no remote for the car to verify that the right person is in control of the vehicle). Your car will idle for ten minutes, going nowhere, and then it will shut down.
Is Key Replacement Covered Under Warranty?
There is no manufacturer’s warranty that will cover the cost of key replacement. However, the dealership where you purchased the car may have tried to sell you a separate policy that covers key/fob cost. If you suspect that you have a policy that covers things like this (which might be included in a policy for windshields or other items), check your paperwork or call the dealership to find out.
What if I am Stranded? I Need Help Now!
If your lost key/fob has put you into crisis mode, and you have a push-button start/ignition, you need to call a tow truck.
If your Lexus is less than two years old, call the folks at Lexus Roadside Assistance. If you are driving an older model (more than two years), google a wrecker on your smartphone and get them to come to you. The tow truck will take your car to the nearest dealer. Be mindful that if your dilemma occurs after regular business hours or over the weekend, you may have to find a motel for a day or so if you are far from home.
For a discussion about the roadside assistance plan Toyota offers, see fourwheeltrends.com.