Why Does A Volkswagen Key Cost So Much?

Volkswagen Immobilizer Key

This situation happens about once a month.

Volkswagen Immobilizer Key

This is where the reader coil is located, just around the key hole.

Customer calls in saying they lost the key or keys for their VW. We tell the customer they will need to show proof they own the vehicle. Then they will need to have the car towed to the dealer.

Once the key comes in, we will have to program the new key to the car. The cost of a new Volkswagen key, remote, and programming is about $300.

So why the heck does getting a new key for a Volkswagen cost $300? My guess is the little mechanism that lets the key flip out is made of some top secrete element. Maybe a derivative of Turbonium? Okay, obviously that is not the case. Before we talk about why it costs so much, let’s talk

about how the system works.


All VWs, and most every other newer car, are equipped with an anti-theft device that will prevent someone from “hot wring” the car. Volkswagen calls this system the Immobilizer. The car must see an authorized key, or it will not start. Well, on a VW, it will start and immediately shut off. ~FREE TIP, if your Vw start and shuts off right away, odd are you have an issue with the immobilizer system.

How It Works

There are 3 main components to the immobilizer system

  1. The vehicle’s key

    Volkswagen Immobilizer Key

    This is what the actual transponder looks like

  2. A “reader coil”
  3. An “evaluation unit”

The vehicle’s key has a chip inside of it called a transponder. It looks like a glass tic-tac. When you put the key into the ignition, the “reader coil” will energize the transponder in the key. Then the transponder will send a code back to the coil and on to the evaluation unit. If everyone is authorized, the evaluation unit will authorize the vehicle to start. If not, the car will start, or it will not stay running.

The Cost

Now that we know how the system works, let’s get into the cost. Anytime there is electronics in something the cost will go up. These new keys are not like the old ones you could get cut at the local Ace Hardware. Also, most newer keys have the keyless entry remote built into it. That will bring the cost up.

The keys and remotes also need to programmed to the car, adding a little more to the cost. That requires the vehicle to be at the dealer. When I program keys, I have to hook up the VW scan tool. Then we go online and retrieve the proper coding for the car. I don’t get to see the code anymore, it is loaded right into the car. Each key for the vehicle will need to be programmed to work properly.

Is It All Worth it?

Is going to all this trouble to prevent vehicle theft worth it? I think so. It will deter amateurs from stealing cars. But let’s face it, if someone really wants to steal your car, they will steal it no matter what you do.

I also have another tip. The keys that you find on Ebay, or that weird store in the mall are JUNK! I would say that ~95% of the keys that customers bring in to be programmed do not work. It stinks for them because they don’t really save any money. It usually ends in the customer paying twice for programming, or buying a key from the dealer anyway. Just be cautious when dealing in non factory keys.

If you remember what “Turbonium” is, post it in the comments. I am wondering if everyone knows what it is.

140 replies
  1. Jeremy
    Jeremy says:

    Mine cans with a non flip VW key that doesn’t have a remote. All I can do it open doors. My dad once used it to start my car and was freaking out because it kept dying. Lol

  2. Ken
    Ken says:

    What is the more expensive part of the key? Cutting the key or programming it? In my case I still have the key but would need new electronic bits inside. They stopped working for some reason. The guy I was speaking to at the dealership was telling me they would need to re-cut the key?? I don’t really understand why since I still have that portion.

    • Charles
      Charles says:

      @Ken, the key with cutting is the more expensive part. We charge about $50 for programming the key.

      If it needs the part that allows the car to start, then you would need a new key. My dealer doesn’t cut keys, they will only order a pre-cut key. We have a key cutting machine, but none of the parts guys want to cut keys.

      • ismael sanchez
        ismael sanchez says:

        What is your email address or phone # please i need my key programed n i can’t afford to pay the dealer which they charge $300+ my number is 8134096128 text or call me please, father of 3

        • Paul
          Paul says:

          I have the same problem I have a valet key and no remote or fob that came with my car. Charles can u contact me also I don’t feel like spending 300 either on a stupid key 631-384-2836 thank you

        • Kathi Moriel
          Kathi Moriel says:

          I have a 2006 Passat and lost my key . Are you saying that the 300$ price is my only option and not to buy any of these 20$ key fobs I see online . You can call me at 916 578 1111 or email me At katbrat4@gmail

      • Blayne Chapp
        Blayne Chapp says:

        Can you just get the transponder replaced? I know it will still have to be programmed to the car or will I have to get a whole new fob?

      • Joel
        Joel says:

        SOS I’m here to join the VW Passat key loser club 🙁 I have an ‘02 Passat & lost my key. Ok now what to do ??

      • Jaimie Allyson Santiago
        Jaimie Allyson Santiago says:

        I think I need a key program for my Volkswagen I got a new battery 2032 but it still doesn’t work I am baffled what is going on there’s no way I could afford to go to a dealer on top of it have my car towed please advise me on what I can do I’m in Bristol Wisconsin thank you

        • John
          John says:

          Jaime, my fob stopped working(09 cc). Put new 2032 battery in & still didn’t work. I got QD Electronic Cleaner at harbor freight for around $7. Sprayed the inside of remote, make sure battery is out. Leave open & battery out for 10-15 minute. Replace battery, put fob together & it worked like new. Hope this helps.

  3. the Rested Traveler
    the Rested Traveler says:

    Are there alternatives to this? I have a 2010 Jetta and it came with two key fobs and a valet key … all of the keys work fine to unlock the doors and start the car the old fashioned way. Both of the fobs have quit working to unlock the doors, pop the trunk, or set off the panic alarm remotely though. I’ve replaced the batteries in both and still no remote love. Do I really have to replace the entire unit and have it re-programmed?

      • billy47
        billy47 says:

        Don’t feel alone, both of my remote keys for Jetta quit working…the usual, replaced the batteries at the dealership…problem fixed, hell no…remotes still don’t work! I’m having the fob replaced on one set and it’s costing me $200+ to have this done…time to change auto brands!

          • Ron
            Ron says:

            I have a 1999 tdi bug I bought it from a wrecking company. They had a mechanics lean tittle on the car
            I did a tittle transfer and the tittle is in my name now. It also has a bad engine i am swaping the engine out of my wrecked 2001 bug But I don’t have any keys for the 1999 bug. How can I get a key do I have to go to the dealer

      • Charity Brown
        Charity Brown says:

        Can u please help me also with this code I need as I’ve had an ex steal my keys aND he knows I cant afford to pay 300 either my number is 5403889271 thanks so much.

    • Steven Spencer
      Steven Spencer says:


      Great site. I have one 2004 VW Jetta key working fine, in Bayside, NY, with VIN, access to lots of dealers and key places. So I want the least expensive way to have two (or even better, three) total, as the car is only 60K and runs really, really good. Although I am always listening for a little turbocharger push that is not there :). Have owned it 1 1/2 years and very impressed, especially for city and suburban driving, tight, maneuverable, reliable and small for parking. While I don’t care about remote entry, I gather there is little benefit in bypassing any features.

      Keylessride.com wants me to have two, if only one I need to take it to a shop after receiving (I will call those guys tomorrow).

      I know there are a few options here. Can you recommend one or two as the best? Absolute cheapness is not the only factor, I would like a one-pass solution that is likely to work, and I don’t mind stopping here or there for programming.



  4. Anthony
    Anthony says:

    Locksmiths can also cut and program these keys or make duplicates for you . We get our keys from strattec who actually manufactures the factory key blanks for most automotive companies including vw . Since we deal directly with this company our costs on the key are lower and we can cut them immediately with our own machines . We carry both factory with the logo and “aftermarket” or the same exact key without the logo which costs less. We can program these to the vehicle also if you break a part of the vw fob it is repairable since the key is actually three seperate pieces which consist of the key blade, the remote or fob and the transponder piece . The other alternative is the valet key which we can cut to work the same as the other key but still contains the transponder so it can be programed to start the vehicle also. Locksmiths prices go between $95 to $200 for the keys depending on which key you want . And as far as repairing the key we can do that for $15 to $100 depending on which part of the fob is broken

  5. David Zierk
    David Zierk says:

    I am looking for a spare key to just open the drivers door in an emergency and have a second set of spare keys hidden inside. I own a 2013 VW Beetle with standard flip key ignition. Any help will be appreciated.


  6. Tom Chapman
    Tom Chapman says:

    I just need a spare key for my 2010 jetta and do not want to pay the dealer 300 bucks any ideas I have a key that works fine just would hate to loose it , which I am very capable of doing.

    • Charles
      Charles says:

      You can have one cut and not programmed. It will do you no good to start the car, but if you lock your keys in it you’re wgood.

      Sadly car makers have us all over a barrel.

  7. Tim
    Tim says:

    The keys for VW’s and Audi’s seem expensive until you compare them to some of the other european makes.. BMW wants an arm and a leg, Mercedes wants both arms and a leg.. So the VAG group isn’t all that bad… A good locksmith can duplicate and program a flat key or a flip key to most 2000-2005 VW’s with no problems.. After 2005 VAG went to a little different immobilizer system. 2000-2001 cars had a chip in the key that the car would accept when you introduced it to the car, 2002- 2005 cars would accept the key chip, but also mark the chip with info so you can’t reuse the chip on another car. 2005-2009 cars need to have the chip in the key preprogrammed with the component protection data from the car before you can ask the car to accept it. 2009-2013 use the same system but with a different controller chip in the cars immobilizer box. The keys have come down in price, but you are still looking at a higher price than a Ford or GM key and remote.. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.. If you call a locksmith and they tell you only the dealer can do that, find another locksmith…
    Take care,
    PS, we sell a plastic or metal copy of 1998-2013 that you can put into a key hider for as little as $15.00 and the stick on velcro key hider for $5.00.. It will open the door, but not start the car. We have a lot of outdoor enthusiasts here in the great northwest and they love these..

  8. Ross
    Ross says:

    Just bought a 2011 Tiguan which came with just one key. Yep $300 for a spare at the local VW dealer… “bollocks to that.” What if I just take the chip out of my one good key fob and glue it to the ring containing the reader coil… then just get a bunch of cheap dumb keys cut … would that work? I’d still have the good fob for remote access for the Mrs and the kids would all have dumb keys.
    Just asking ???

  9. Annie Post
    Annie Post says:

    HELP! My son lost the last key to my 2001 VW Cabrio. Paid for two VIN keys. Neither one worked but did open trunk. Told it was the ignition so $850. Worked before key was lost, so towed to another dealer, called VW USA to help. Now, $1800 because they claim I rekeyed the entire car which is insane!!! I bought it brand new. Can’t find a locksmith here (Boston) to help. So now I have to throw my car away???
    I’m about to cry.

    • Keith McCombs
      Keith McCombs says:

      Annie —
      Before junking your car, I suggest you phone Commonwealth Volkswagen in Lawerence, Mass. Tell them your VIN and find out what they can do for you. I think that their prices may be more reasonable than those in Boston.
      — Keith

    • Keith McCombs
      Keith McCombs says:

      Annie —
      A second thought. Use Google Maps to find Auto Electric in Boston. Talk to them about your problem before taking car to them. They might even be able to replace immobilizer and keys from an ” auto grave yard”.
      — Keith

  10. ivan
    ivan says:

    I have a 2000 jetta the last owner loose the. Keys she brought a key from vw dealer can some one help me find some one that can come a and reprogram the car the car is immobilized mode I m located mmoncure nc like 15 min from apex tors

  11. Kim Salazar
    Kim Salazar says:

    I have a question, I have a 2003 VW Jetta and I only a 1 key. Unfounately on the remote the silver hook broke so it cannot catch on any rings. I just bought another key off of Ebay and would like to try and get it keyed and programmed. I live in Illinois, do you now by chance know where there is a reasonable place to go or could I send it to you and could you do it for me.
    Thank you.

  12. Jennifer Reno
    Jennifer Reno says:

    I have a 2001 New Beetle and lost the key to the trunk. It is different from the key to the ignition. What is the cost to get a new key made? I live on an island where there are no VW dealerships.

  13. kendall Lentz
    kendall Lentz says:

    Just bought 2011 VW jetta from dealership. After all paperwork is signed and cash paid for entire vehicle we go to leave and theu claim cant find 2nd key but will search it down and call. Now since they cant find it they ate trying to force be to buy one
    On principle alone now after being lied to (by the way car stopped running after less than 3 weeks ownership and is in their shop cause under warranty) I now really refuse to get 2nd key from them. So how much to get one And a valet key from you?
    Any hehp is greatly appreciated! You are right they definitely have us over a barrel.
    Kendall Lentz
    Baltimore, MD

    • Steven Spencer
      Steven Spencer says:

      I wrote above about my looking for one for a 2004 Jetta. All the internet possibilities led to very little that was helpful.

      Some of the local lock shops could not do it, but I found two that are excellent. The I had used before on stuff in Nassau, Able, was about $110 and the one in Queens, ABC was even better at $90. This is programmed, without the remote, and looks nice. Little or no discount for doing two.

      So I would say just call around and try to find a reputable shop that is around $100. However, I don’t know if 2011 is any different than 2004.


  14. Tim
    Tim says:

    Saw this video again and it made me laugh… There is one more way these remote keys fail.. Too much junk hung on the end of them… I don’t like to group people together, but I have had 4 or 5 customers wanting me to warranty a flip key.. The hinge or chrome loop had broken off… All of these were teenage girls in 00-04. Beetles… ALL of these had about 5 pounds of stuff on the key ring… When you have a flat key, the distance from the ignition cylinder to where the key ring attaches is about an inch.. On a flip key it is double that.. If you want to keep your expensive flip key from breaking, don’t load up the key ring..

    • Charles
      Charles says:

      Your best bet is ordering one from the dealer.

      After you get the key, the dealer needs to program it. There are a few non-dealer shops that can do it, but they are VERY few and far between.

  15. Todd
    Todd says:

    Charles, are you saying that if I need an additional key for my 2012 VW Beetle that I should suck it up and purchase it through the dealer? They want to charge $225 for the key and $120 to program the key. I found “VW” keys on Ebay for $50.00. From what you’re saying, “Good Luck” with those keys and having them function properly. Any suggestions for having a functional key purchased and made for less?

    Thank you.

  16. jacqui
    jacqui says:

    can anyone tell me where I can get a key for my vw bora 2002 (without being robbed)?. I lost the spare key and just wanted another one.


    • Howard
      Howard says:

      We are told that these key things are meant to protect us from auto thieves but what is to protect us from the dealers? If the free market is allowed to work, the after market will eventually move in to fill the need for affordable solutions to key replacement. A lot of these older cars are simply not worth replacing their keys at the dealer prices. Consider this when purchasing a used automobile! If you are an antropreneur, this may be your Day!

  17. Dana
    Dana says:

    Hi @Charles, been reading the string of comments above. You’ve been so helpful to so many people. Hoping you can help me too. I have a 2002 beetle, bought used with only one key. The car won’t start – mechanic says the code reads engine start blocked by immobilizer. If I buy a key fob, how much do you charge for cutting and programming? I live in CA and weighing my cost options.


  18. Tim
    Tim says:

    Hey Charles,I’m glad I found you. I just bought a 2005 vw jetta with one key, no remote. The car starts and run, but I cannot lock the door with the key. I will like a new set of keys with a remote.Can you help? Thanks.

  19. Craig
    Craig says:

    I bought a 2015 Jetta. It has a push button start. When I test drove the car the display read “no key”. I bought the car and the dealer changed the battery to the remote. But it still says “no key” even bough the remote key has a new battery. To start the car I have to push the start button and put the key near the steering column. Is the key bad?

  20. Tara
    Tara says:

    I have been cleaning out drawers and found two VW keys. My last VW was a Tiguan. I am not buying VWs anymore but hate to throw away the keys. Where can I send them?

  21. steve
    steve says:

    Hey Charles…. you offer great advice. I appreciate your honesty.
    I have a 2003 Passat with only one flip key. The key works great to open the doors (manually) but the remote part does not work. The key starts the engine just fine (so the immob tic-tac works fine) I am interested in replacing the aged/cracked case for the flip key. All the internals I think probably still work fine. Where do you recommend I go to buy a replacement 4-button case that is the right shape for my flip key?

    • Charles
      Charles says:

      Hey Tim,
      You can try , but I have had bad luck with EBAY keys. I have never tried one on a 2015. But I can tell you, programming MK7 GTI keys can be a pain when it’s a VW factory key.

  22. salman
    salman says:

    Hi, please help me, i’m from iran, i have a vollexvagon passat and i lost my key and now its the 11th day that the vehicle dosen’t work, i took it to a mechanic but they can do nothing, please help me, please, please

  23. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I have a 2002 Volkswagen Passat I have one keys to the car it starts the car,unlocks doors,but it doesn’t unlock the trunk..Will I be charged $300.00 for another key….

  24. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I have a 2002 Volkswagen Passat my key starts the car up,unlocks doors,but when you push to open the trunk it doesn’t work..Will I have to pay $300.00 for another key because I only have one keys that came with the car?????????

  25. Carolyn Mccollum
    Carolyn Mccollum says:

    I bought a 2008 Volkswagen Passat at auction with no keys. I ordered the key through the dealership when it came in I had the car towed to them. It has been a week and they are busy and so far they say when they tried to program it all the dashboard lights came on and flickered like crazy. They want to trouble shoot it at 100.00 an hour. Is this unusual or are they just taking me for more money.

  26. greg
    greg says:

    my key starts my car but will not stay running. Will have go to dealer an pay 300 for a key? thanks i have a 2008 gti

  27. Joe
    Joe says:

    Charles, Getting ready to turn in my daughters lease 2013 VW beetle convertible 2.0 TDI and lost the second FOB key. In my file for the car, I still have the less than 1/2 inch rectangle metal piece. Can I get a second FOB key without via you or ebay or anyone with the electronics inside or must I buy thru the dealer? I am hoping that little metal piece is helpful?

  28. Nick
    Nick says:

    I have a Key fob for a 2013 jetta that hasn’t been programmed, would I be able to swap the physical key out, and program it for my ’02 jetta?

  29. jack Ferrell
    jack Ferrell says:

    Hello Charles,

    I have a 2014 Beetle. I normally keep a spare key on my car just in case I get locked out. What would you recommend as a low-cost solution to open the door and run the car, should my key get misplaced?

    Thank you,

  30. Sven Gustafsson
    Sven Gustafsson says:

    I have a key where the key-blade has separated from the black plastic part (fractured key-blade holder). Should be a common problem due o a weak design. I was still able to start the car turning the key-blade with pliers, holding the plastic part close to the lock, which seems logical reading the description above.
    Has anyone found a way to make a nice repair or a way to keep using such a broken key?

  31. Dusty
    Dusty says:

    Good day very nice blog!! Guy .. Excellent .. Wonderful ..
    I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds
    also? I’m glad to find numerous helpful info here in the submit, we’d like work out
    more strategies in this regard, thanks for sharing. . .
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  32. Donna Smith
    Donna Smith says:

    Just bought a 2009 VW Jetta. Only came with one key. Passenger door will not lock. The driver door only locks with key manually. Found a locksmith who says they can make a spare for me with a fob for 135.00 I’m afraid it won’t work since you have to manually lock driver door. Any thoughts??

  33. James
    James says:

    HELP PLEASE!!!!!!! We have a 2002 be non turbo beetle. We only got a valet key when we bought it. We lost the key almost a week ago. We had a locksmith come out and he got the key it will unlock the doors but that’s it. He tried everything And couldn’t get it programmed so had to pay 80 bucks for the key and towed it to the most reputable vw dealership in greenville sc. Now they said that key couldn’t be programed. They order another New key and it came in today. Well it can’t be programmed either. They act like they don’t know what to do. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance god bless.

  34. Yvonne
    Yvonne says:

    Hi–I have 2000 Jetta turbo. I have only one key (on the key fob–no valet key). What is the cheapest way to get a spare key?

  35. andrew
    andrew says:

    Can you get a key without a fob so it just opens the door?

    I kayak and don’t want to carry the fob with me because its probably going to get wet.

    So, I would use the key to open the door and then perhaps leave the fob hidden in the car so i could then start the car?

    This is what I have done on my previous non VW car and it worked well.

  36. nikki and aaron G
    nikki and aaron G says:

    We have a 2006 Jetta, bought with only 1 key and now it is not working. Which means the ignition and nothing works.
    Can you help us in San Diego? aaronikkig@gmail.com. Do not have hundreds to spend on this. We need this car to get through another 1.5 teenagers! It is adorable, safe, and fun to drive, but this key thing is some serious BS.

  37. Robert
    Robert says:

    This is all German made VW BS….there’s no way any make of car key should cost $300….another reason never to buy a German or other Euro vehicle…..US, Japan and Korean vehicles all have similar or better anti theft technology and none of them have any where near this expensive cost for a replacement key….all the automotive locksmiths I’ve talked to say VW is the worst and the most expensive…..don’t buy VW……

  38. Sy
    Sy says:

    I have a VW 2010 Jetta. My mom lost my Valet key so I wanted to get another key and dealership says at least $300; Is that the only option?

    2nd Question: I have a back door that for whatever reason stopped locking. The whole car will locked but the backdoor closes but doesn’t lock. Is that an expensive fix? I considered letting the dealership handle it but I don’t know how much something like that could cost.

  39. Jeffrey
    Jeffrey says:

    I have a 2001 vw jetta vr6 automatic I lost my key is there a place I can have a cut key already made and I could program it myself please get ahold of my phone number is 503-433-3665

    • Ryan Carver
      Ryan Carver says:

      By now, you probably have this resolved. If not, this is the place I used way back in 2013. Not only were they able to cut and reprogram keys, they were able to retrieve my 4-digit PIN number for Immobilizer access from VCDS!

      AA Express Car Openers – 503.251.2751
      110 SE 97th Street
      Portland, OR 97216

  40. Ryan Carver
    Ryan Carver says:

    Turbonium!? Wow! That is a blast from the past! I remember the Turbonium Beetle website with the VW Beetle at the center of the atom. It looked like a fun marketing idea. Unfortunately, the Turbonium Beetle was withdrawn from before it came to market. Fun Fact: For awhile, VW was selling off accessories for the Turbonium Beetle. You could buy the pinstripes for the bottom of the door that had the “Tb” from the Periodic Table of the Volkswagens.

  41. John Chris Kumar
    John Chris Kumar says:

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  42. peter scott
    peter scott says:

    Good to read the article! Thank you for sharing the great content,
    which is very essential for me to know more about the cars and the engines.
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  43. Michael
    Michael says:

    I was given a 02 Jetta with a 2.0 and 5 speed and my buddy had lost the key but got a new eco and key but didnt know how to program it but the big problem is were it’s at it has to be moved in like asap or I lose it and I have no income and cant afford to get it programmed or afford a tow so my questions are can I program it my self or is there a way to bypass the chipped system along with the ignition and get it to be drivable I dont care if I have to start it with a screwdriver I just want to be able to drive it to be able to work so I can afford to get it fixed properly

  44. Bryan White
    Bryan White says:

    I’m just a guy who thought German engineering was about the best my battery in my key fob went low car started and shut off right away and won’t start with a new battery in the fob I read a imobilizer is the cause. I’m not worried about someone stealing my 2015 Jetta I know that I won’t buy another vw


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Why Does A Volkswagen Key Cost So Much? | Humble … – Why does a VW Volkswagen Key cost so much to … Hi I lost my car key car is volkswagon golf … I am looking for a spare key to just open the drivers door in … […]

  2. […] a blog post years ago discussing the secrets and why they cost a lot. You can check that out at Why Does A Volkswagen Key Cost So Much? Sponsor Of The DayToday’s show is sponsored by Deutsche Car Components. They are the VW and […]

  3. […] Today we are looking at how VW keys fail. Keys become a pretty hot button issue. They don’t fail all that much, but when they do it can be a real hassle. I also wrote a blog post years ago talking about the keys and why they cost so much. You can check that out at Why Does A Volkswagen Key Cost So Much? […]

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