If you need a new set of car keys, you may be tempted to purchase an aftermarket set and program them yourself. While this is possible, it invites the risk of several issues. It is important to understand the specific kind of key you need, and to be aware of specific dangers such as poor quality or previously programmed keys. If you purchase aftermarket electronic keys from a quality provider, customer service may be able to help you through the tedious process. However, the safest and most efficient solution will be to enlist the help of a professional locksmith.

Let’s dive in to the different types of aftermarket electronic keys and the various dangers they may drag along.

Kinds of Aftermarket Electronic Car Keys

Transponder Keys

This is a physical key with a chip on the inside of it, but it is not the same as keyless entry device. The key needs to be inserted into your car’s ignition cylinder, and the chip inside the key is there for security purposes. Most modern cars with a traditional key ignition have transponder keys.

This chip is often placed under under the plastic cover that goes over the bow (the part of the key that you hold onto to turn the key). If there is a remote installed on the bow of the key, the transponder chip might be in the plastic also. 

After you have purchased an aftermarket electronic car key, the chip will need to be reprogrammed.

Key Fobs

Key fobs are used for push-to-start vehicles. When purchasing an aftermarket car fob, you must confirm that it is compatible with your car’s make and model. You may come across unbranded aftermarket car keys. While there is a slim chance they will work, it is best to avoid them.


Car key remotes are the devices you click in order to lock, unlock, or set off your car’s panic alarm. They may be part of a transponder key or a push-to-start key fob but, whatever form they take, they are intended to be used from a distance. These keys are not to be confused with remote engine start devices. An aftermarket car remote would only replace the locking and unlocking mechanism, and are not for the purpose of starting your car.

Dangers Of Various Types Of Aftermarket Electronic Car Keys

If you decide to replace your car key on your own, there is a good chance you’ll end up purchasing the wrong aftermarket electronic key. You might make the mistake of not knowing which type of car key to purchase. You may also fail to purchase a key that is compatible with your cars year, make, and model. Lastly, it is possible to purchase an aftermarket key from an unreliable source. Make sure to use a distributor where the functionality of the keys are detailed. Now, let’s dive into more detail on the dangers of purchasing aftermarket keys.

Already Programmed

Sometimes aftermarket electronic car keys that are purchased online come already programmed from their previous car. It is something that is nearly impossible for a regular person to detect, since the car it is programmed to open isn’t anyplace nearby. 

After an aftermarket electronic car key has been programmed, you cannot reprogram it. You need to ensure that the product you are purchasing hasn’t been previously used on someone else’s car. It is easier to check that on transponder keys, since the key blade can be looked at. If an aftermarket electronic car key has been cut it most certainly has been programmed.

Poor Quality

Quality issues mainly come from off brand kinds of aftermarket electronic car keys. A generic device will not have the exact look or logos of your original electronic key and often use soft, brittle or thin plastic. That makes the key very delicate.

In addition to the external durability of aftermarket electronic car keys, technical issues can arise. Cheap components or poor connections can decrease an aftermarket electronic car keys lifespan significantly. Proximity requirements for them to work effectively can be very strict or inconsistent. Remote buttons might decrease your device’s functionality or stop working altogether.

No Customer Service

You will need help if you have any problems with an aftermarket electronic car key. Unfortunately, many aftermarket electronic car key distributors either have poor customer service or don’t offer customer service whatsoever. 

Enlist the Help of a Professional