Did you know, that the concept of the modern key and lock has been around for at least 6,000 years? In fact, its design hasn’t changed much since then. The lock is an enclosed box with movable pins – either weighted or held by springs – where a key can be inserted. The grooves of the key then move the oddly lengthened pins once the key is turned, which unlocks it. But this little bit of trivia might be entirely irrelevant as you’re typing in “does Home Depot make keys?” on Google.
Understandably, that sense of uncertainty is palpable. For as long as cars have been around, people have been figuring out ways on how to keep them safe. Just as the ancient Assyrians had keys to lock away their plundered gold, you also have a key for your 1999 Honda Civic. But why should you bother reading this if you already have a key? Well, keeping an extra key or two is always handy. What if you lost your singular, original key? What if more than one person is driving your car?
Not only a matter of convenience, but also an important aspect of safety. Losing your one and only key comes with it a lot of hassle. So before it happens, it’s handy to keep a spare lying around for when you need it. With nearly 2,300 stores around the US, surely the beloved Home Depot can help out, right? For what appears to be a very simple thing to do, the answer to ‘does Home Depot make keys for my car’ is both a yes… And a no. Mind you, not all keys can be replicated that easily.
- Types of car keys
- Does Home Depot make keys?
- How about key fobs?
- How about keyless entry or smart keys?
- The competition
- Why so expensive?
- Pros/Cons of smart keys
What are the different car keys that you need to know?
First up in our guide to ‘does Home Depot make keys’ for your car, we’ll need to better differentiate the types of keys. That might be surprising, but there are indeed many different shapes and forms of car keys. Over the decades, car keys have evolved from grooved metal pins to completely remote and electronic systems. The first car keys were invented in the early 1910s. However, these were limited to just locking the doors and locking the ignition system itself.
To start the car, the driver still needed to crank up the motor or push a starter button. It wasn’t until 1949 that Chrysler invented the idea of using the key to start the ignition. It wasn’t in the early 1990s that carmakers starting using central locking and remote key fobs to accompany the metal key. For most modern cars then, here are the 3 most common types of keys that might be used for your car…
1. Traditional key and fob
For most older cars built in the late 90s and early 2000s, most vehicles came equipped with the same method for unlocking your car. There is a traditional metal key used for ignition. Accompanying that, there is also a (mostly) plastic brick-like device. These are called key fobs – or remotes – which consist of a transponder chip built within the key fob. Early on, these transponder keys did nothing other than “talking” to your car’s ignition and allowing it to start.
This was designed to combat thievery, as car thieves needed more than just the metal key to start the car. Later on, the function of the key fob advanced to more than just accessing your car’s ignition. Through radio waves, the key fob can connect to the car remotely. This allows functions such as locking or unlocking the doors without having to use the metal key. As an added convenience, it could also pop open the trunk or hatchback on your car remotely, as well.
2. Keyless entry
It didn’t take long to see the key and key fob combo disappear into a single unit. With ‘keyless entry‘ systems, you won’t find a traditional metal key. As the name suggests, you can enter and exit the car without needing to take out your keys. This is unlike the older key fob style where you need to press buttons to lock or unlock the doors. With keyless entry, you only need the keys on you, such as keeping it in your pocket, and within set proximity from the car.
Then, just walk up to the car and click open the door handles. Once inside, the key itself is a transponder that can identify itself to the car. In earlier keyless systems, you’ll still need to place the plastic key itself within an ignition slot to start. But newer ones allow you to start the ignition as long as the key is inside of your car. Often, a traditional metal key is still provided – sometimes kept hidden inside the keyless fob – for emergencies.
3. Smart keys
A lot of the time, many people use keyless entry and ‘smart keys‘ interchangeably. However, there are some crucial differences. Smart keys are an evolution of keyless entry systems from earlier. Internally, there are more complex microchips that communicate with special antennas in the car. This way, you can still prompt the basic actions like locking and unlocking the doors remotely. An added bonus is being able to start the car up while you’re not inside the car.
This can be helpful in situations like starting up the car on a hot sunny day to turn on the air-con before getting inside to cool down the cabin. However, some smart keys have additional functions that keyless systems do not. For instance, smart keys can instantly remember your preferences, such as seating position, steering wheel adjustments, or climate control settings. In short, smart keys can possess keyless entry functionality, but not all keyless systems qualify as smart keys.
Does Home Depot make keys for your car?
As we highlighted much earlier, the answer to ‘does home depot make keys’ is both a yes and a no. Long story short, most Home Depots have the facilities to duplicate your ‘metal’ keys. This doesn’t just include your car, but also keys for your house or padlocks. For a metal key, it takes no more than around 5 or so minutes, and just $1.50 for each key copy. Although, you need to bear in mind the design of the metal key that you need.
Depending on grooves and the specifications of the key that you have, Home Depot might not be able to go through with making an accurate enough copy. This is especially the case with specialized “Do Not Duplicate” keys. Thankfully, Home Depot can still replicate quite accurately around 90% of the types of metal keys used on most cars sold in the US. So, despite some limitations, you’re likely able to find the right template “blank” fit for your particular metal car key.
How does Home Depot make keys?
The process is quite simple, and the aforementioned cost is only associated with the cost of the metal key itself and not the service. Another thing to keep in mind is that not all Home Depots have key duplicating facilities. So, it’s worthwhile calling them up to ask before you drop by. Otherwise, most Home Depots have the same type of key-making machines. You simply insert your key into the machine, and it’ll start scanning the key.
This scan will tell the machine the shape, pattern, depth, and sizing of the key and its grooves. As such, this process is completely automated. Once the software knows the exact dimensions of the keys you want, it’ll use its cartridges to precisely cut from a select number of blanks. Another thing that you should remember is to never duplicate a copy key. Copies are usually inferior to the original. So, if you keep duplicating a copy, it’ll eventually stray from its design and won’t work.
Does Home Depot make keys for duplicating key fobs?
This is where we look into the more complex side of our ‘does Home Depot make keys’ question. Yes, as we learned earlier that you can indeed make copies of your car’s metal key. However, if you have a more modern car that requires a key fob transponder or to deactivate the immobilizer, it won’t be enough. You might be able to use that metal key to lock and unlock the doors manually, but you won’t be able to start the car. So, can Home Depot solve this?
In short, maybe. You can find some “blank” key fobs that work with certain makes and models of cars. Most of these options are for older vehicles, including those from brands like GM, Nissan, Chrysler, and Ford. You can browse around their website to find exactly which key fob can work with your car. It’s important to choose the right key fob, as otherwise, it won’t be able to start up your car’s ignition anyways. As for cost, these blank fobs can range anywhere from $50 to $120.
How can you program these key fobs to work with your car?
If you’ve found a key fob on Home Depot which is compatible with your car, then these fobs often claim to be “self-programmable”. What this means is that you can program it to work with your car’s transponder DIY-style, instead of needing to send it over to a dealership or a qualified locksmith to have it programmed. These fobs will include detailed instructions on how to set them up. But as we’ll learn later, you have other choices for simple key fobs other than just Home Depot.
One example that we’ve found on Amazon says that programming the key fob to work with your car takes only a few minutes. The steps involve turning your ignition on and off a set number of times while pressing down a button. Or, it might ask you to close and open the doors a few times, press and depress the brake pedal, etc. as the key fob acquaints itself to your car’s transponder. Once that’s done, you should be able to use this key fob with your car.
What about keyless entry or smart keys?
In this particular case, we can answer our ‘does Home Depot make keys’ question with an absolute ‘no’. Yes, you can easily duplicate your metal keys with Home Depot’s fully automated machine. For your car’s key fobs, you can still find compatible fobs that might work with your car. However, Home Depot doesn’t offer services to program your electronic fobs to work with your specific car. That then leaves out the fancy keyless entry systems and smart keys.
Home Depot doesn’t give you the choice of duplicating a keyless entry fob or smart keys. So, if you have a car that is reliant on either one of these two, you have a couple of options. The first would be trying to find a replacement keyless or smart key fob online, such as on Amazon. Just type in your car’s make, model, and model year to find the best one. However, once you get it, you’ll still need to program it with your car. This can’t be done freely and at home.
To program your new key fob, you’ll need to go to the dealership. Some locksmiths might offer this service. Usually, re-programming will come with a fee of around $50 to $100. If you’d like for a safer route, you can get a duplicate or replacement keyless or smart key fob through a dealership. But it can be very expensive, as the price of the fob itself runs anywhere from just $50 to $400. This is only for the device itself and not the programming, though certain dealers won’t charge for that.
Home Depot vs. the competition
So, is Home Depot the best choice for getting your car’s key fobs duplicated? As we looked at earlier on in our ‘does Home Depot make keys’ guide, they certainly are a great option if you need the basic metal key copied over. They even sell some remote key fobs that might work with your car. However, it can’t do any of the more complex functions like re-programming your car’s keyless entry or smart key fob. But what about the competition?
Well, there’s a lot of other retail outlets or hardware stores such as Walmart, Lowe’s, or ACE Hardware. Then, there are the countless other independent locksmiths at every corner. However, they too have similar limitations, in that they can’t do keyless entry or smart key systems. The only ones who are qualified to offer the hardware and the programming to match your car are either the official dealerships, in the case of the more high-tech keyless entry, or smart keys.
Where are the best places you can get blank key fobs outside of Home Depot
That said, you better hope your car has a simple key fob the next time you need a copy done. In that case, there’s plenty of options aside from just Home Depot. Companies like ACE Hardware, Keyless Shop, carandtruckremotes.com, or Replace My Remote offer some of the best prices for self-programmable key fobs. ACE Hardware says that their key fob replacements are compatible with 95% to 98% of cars sold today. Price-wise, they’re comparable to Home Depot.
Alternatively, you can ring up your local locksmith or workshop to see if they could source a blank key fob and help you out with the programming. Or, you can use sites like Jrop, 1800unlocks.com, Locksmiths USA, or autolocksmithfinder.com to browse around for the best car locksmiths near you. Best of all, some of these locksmiths are mobile, so they could drive over and help out with your car on the spot. Rather than pay $300+ at a dealer, you could pay around $100 to $200 with a qualified locksmith for a brand new key fob.
Why do key fobs cost you so much to replace or copy?
Since we’ve learned that you can’t easily get a keyless entry or smart key fob at Home Depot, it does beg the question as to their cost? Why does a tiny piece of plastic cost me upwards of $400? Well, there are a few good reasons as to why this is the case. That’s aside from the fact that dealers can choose to charge you more since there are fewer options to get a key fob sorted out. For the most part, the reason for the high cost of seemingly simple car keys is the tech inside of them.
Each key fob has a small microchip inside that interfaces with your car’s antenna and receivers. To make doubly sure that your Ford key fob can’t just unlock any single Ford, each key is programmed specifically for each car’s code. Understandably, car manufacturers aren’t willing to share this secret code – which ultimately allows its keys to access and power all its cars – with just about anyone.
The process can be somewhat more tedious too, as you may need to send them a copy of your registration ID or driver’s license. Then, you might need to prove to them that you actually the car before they can approve you a new set of working key fobs. An important point to note, you can always check your car’s warranty or your insurance coverage. If you’re lucky, they might cover one or more free key replacements. At the very least, they can still partially reimburse you for the copied keys.
Advantages and Disadvantages of smart keys
If you own a car that’s 5 years or younger, your car likely has some keyless or smart key functionality. But why, after learning about the incredible expense of these systems in our ‘does Home Depot make keys’ guide, should you want to put up living with them. Well, there are a few good reasons why keyless systems and smart keys are the new normal. For most people, not having to take your key out of the pocket or purse is a huge convenience plus point.
You won’t have to fuss about with the door locks in the dark, or while carrying a week’s worth of heavy groceries. They’re also a lot safer compared to simple metal keys. Each key is programmed to work with just one car, and the code can’t be broken so easily. Even if someone forces their way into your car, they can’t just pick-lock the ignition to start it. On top of that, smart keys (and keyless entry) adds another layer of peace of mind for every owner.
Since your car locks automatically once the key is beyond its proximity, you won’t have to worry about whether you did or didn’t lock the doors. But now for the downsides. The most obvious – as we’ve learned thus far – is the cost of replacing or duplicating those fobs. But another, certainly more worrying flaw, is ironically the programming itself. If a carmaker doesn’t properly encrypt your car keys, a techy hacker could crack open the code and break into your car.
Does Home Depot make keys – Conclusion
As we now end this ‘does home depot make keys’ guide, it’s worth summarizing it in a pinch. Home Depot remains one of the best and most popular places to get your keys duplicated. Not only can they do it quickly, but quite accurately and cheaply, too. However, they can only duplicate ‘metal’ keys, which are becoming more obsolete in cars nowadays. Thankfully, they have a wide selection of blank key fobs that you can choose, that you can then program very easily.
It’s also worth mentioning loads of other great options out there. From independent locksmiths, big box and hardware-focused retailers, and specialized third-party providers of key fobs. Clearly, duplicating your car’s keys isn’t as easy as it once was, not with all the complex electronics. With that in mind, we would highly recommend checking out any of the aforementioned options first and foremost before going to your car’s official dealership.
You can save quite a big penny – upwards of 50%, sometimes 80% worth of discounts – over sending it to your dealer. Unfortunately, even the best of them can’t very easily duplicate the more high-tech keys, like keyless entry or smart keys. Depending on your car and the dealership in question, don’t be surprised if you have to pay more than $500 just for the key fob and the coding. God forbid, you own a new-ish BMW with a mini smartphone for a key.