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Today's task: Spare Keys

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Old 16 Apr 2016, 12:59 am
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Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 789
Default Today's task: Spare Keys

My 09 PT came with only one key and the slimy owner never told me about the cost of replacement keys or that you need at least two working keys to program another one yourself so today's task was to see if I could get a replacement key for less than the cost of the 2 front strut assemblies I installed last night which was $130.

Initially, I naively bought two very inexpensive replacement keys on ebay for $7. They are now $8 for the pair. It was only a couple of days later that I realized that they were only the keys and shells without the electronics.

So I ordered another pair with the electronics for $26

I then needed to find a place to cut the key or cut and program the key. I went to Walmart, but the guy said I needed a "laser cutter" to duplicate it. Next I tried Home Depot and they did have a laser cutter. It's an amazing "fool proof" machine that takes an optical image of the key profile and cuts the blank with a computerized cutter unlike the old machines that mechanically duplicated the key with a feeler. I helped the lady cutting the keys through the menus to choose a 2001-2005 PT Cruiser because the 2nd generation models were not on the menu and I just wanted to make a duplicate using one of the shells as a test key. If it unlocked the car, I know the cutter worked. She then called the "experienced" operator who then refused to cut the key saying it's "store policy" not to cut customer's brought in keys no matter what. Phooey. The lady was going off shift so I caught up with her and told her what the other guy said. She said "come in tomorrow morning and I'll cut it for you". That's the type of good customer service I like. I was willing to take full responsibility and would not have complained if it didn't work.

Next, I tried calling a couple of local locksmiths. It seems everyone works out of a mobile unit and no one has a brick and mortar locksmith business around here.

The first place was a call dispatch center who said the minimum charge was $65+$19 for just showing up. When the actual locksmith called back, he quoted me $120 to duplicate and program one key. I said I'll think about it and call back. 10 minutes later his "buddy" calls and says he can do it for $95 but I'll have to meet him at his house. That sounded fishy so I once again said "let me think about it" and he said he'll call me on Monday to schedule an appointment. Not likely. If this wasn't going to work out, I was going to buy a CK100 programming unit for about $100 and do the programming myself if I could get the keys mechanically cut.

Next, I called another locksmith that had good reviews about fair pricing. This guy's tone was much better. He said if I got him the PIN code and key code, it would make the job much easier for him. I said I didn't have it. He said go to the Chrysler dealer, it's their policy to give it to the customer at no charge but they charge locksmiths $40. The closest dealer was about 1/2 mile away so I went to the parts department with the car registration and low and behold, they looked it up in their Florida data center, printed it out and gave it to me.

While I was there I needed to get at least a couple of splash guard plastic fasteners to replace the ones I snapped off while replacing the engine torque struts. Look at the price, do I feel foolish:

I felt doubly foolish when I got home and remembered that I got 100 fasteners for about $5 for our dear departed Odyssey a couple of years ago on ebay:

I called the guy back, he quoted me $50 to erase all previously programmed keys and rematch the original plus one new key. When I met him, I told him about all the keys I had and what would it cost to do each. He paused and said "Let's do 'em all for $75". Not bad for 4 cuts and 3 programmings. When I gave him the printout, he entered it on his laptop and cut the first shell key. I said "did you laser scan the original?", he said "no, the key code is in the database and the cutter is programmed to cut the key like new instead of trying to match an old worn out key". Great, a like-new cut key.

He tried out the first one on the car and it worked perfectly. Then he cut a key with the electronics in it, cleared the car's memory of all previous keys, re-entered the original and the first new key and everything worked. Guess what he was using to program the keys? A CK-100. 20 minutes after I pulled up next to his van, all keys were cut, programmed, tested and he was done. What a pleasant experience.

He had "State of Jefferson" stickers on his van so I had a feeling we were on the same wavelength about conservative values, taxes, things that go "bang" etc. and he was.

So today's task was accomplished. Now I have 3 full up keys and two shells as backups for a very reasonable price.
ptprice, LionPT, 917K and 1 others like this.

Last edited by rsrocket1; 30 Aug 2017 at 06:37 pm. Reason: Relinked photos to imgbox instead of those crooks at Photobucket
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