Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The $250.00 Car Key

Over the last few years the HNJJ proprietor was sufficiently aggravated by new car locks and keys - or the lack of locks and keys - to plan an online rant.

But this morning there was an occurrence that was the straw that broke the camel's back! The cost to replace a lost "key" for our one-year-old all-American Dodge is...


And when you call about the replacement they try to sneak around the amount by breaking it down. "Well, let's see..for your van it's $190 plus $49 for programming...and, uh, tax."

It's not like you can only order one-or-another or that any of these things are options. Get real and cut-to-the-chase: It's $250.00!

Do they think you won't notice that it adds up to $250.00?

And it isn't even a real key...it's a black plastic thing with buttons. They justify the $250.00 by calling it a fob-thingy or remote or chip or (even more impressive)transponder key. I don't care what you call it...you need it to use the car.

This disenchantment with car locks began a few years ago when trying to buy a small cheap car. That is the point where I discovered that I couldn't find an American station wagon with a keyhole on each front door and finally settled on one with at least a driver's door keyhole. I can't tell you how many times I have been on the passenger side of the car usually assisting an older or ill family member into the car or balancing some packages and realized that I couldn't unlock the door.

Oh, yeah, and the keys weren't even all metal...they were partly plastic.

Next, about six years ago, we bought a small Korean sedan that has actual keys and keyholes on both front doors and the trunk! Hallelujah!

But, on our most recent car buying search we were not to be so lucky. We couldn't find a cheap late-model used van with plain-old car door keyholes and keys. Apparently it's not even an option to get plain keys and keyholes.

Maybe there is a foreign car out there for the next time.

Meanwhile, attach something really big and bright to your $250.00 car key. It will annoy the heck out of you, but will stop you from losing your $250.00 car key.

Yes, I know about those stupid remotes. The first day I had one I put it in the front pocket of my blue jeans, I dropped onto the floor to retrieve something that had rolled under a desk and set off the alarm for the car parked outside in the drive way. Luckily there was a fifth-grader with me who was finally able to shut it off.

That was the first-and-last time that I carried one of those things.
Car Key History Lesson

This is a picture of car keys over the years..or at least the last twenty-or-so years. The metal shiney thing on the left is from a Japanese car circa 1989. It cost a few dollars to replace...less than $5. The middle Korean car key with the cheaper plastic top circa mid-2000s cost about $5 to copy but runs higher if you lose all your keys and the dealer gets you one...maybe up to $100. The black thing on the right (key? Fob?) from an American car circa 2010 cost...$250.00.

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