Some people don't really pay enough attention to their car keys to know the difference between a normal one and an anti-theft key, but those of you who have ever lost one will know exactly what the difference is. Replacement costs for anti-theft keys are in the hundreds of dollars, and in the event that a vehicle's keys contain a smart chip that must be recognized by the vehicle's computer, programming costs are in the thousands. Not to mention the inconvenience of having a vehicle towed to a dealership.
Automakers claim that the keys cut down on thefts and enhance automotive safety. The Center for Auto Safety doesn't think the end justify the means, however, and has thus petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to stop what it calls
"charging exorbitant fees for nominal programming costs." Rather than going through the inconvenience and cost, the Center recommends that the key codes be available to insurance companies and professionals such as locksmiths.