New cars typically come with two remote control keys. But, many consumers are surprised when they are given a single key after purchasing used cars from a dealership, and they are understandably upset when they learn that it will cost $300-$400 to purchase another key.
There are many reasons why a car dealer may give a consumer only one key when selling used cars. It might be that a prior owner did not return all of the keys when sellilng or trading-in the car. Or, it might be that the vehicle was repossessed, and the recovery agency purchased only one new key in order to save money. Or, perhaps the extra key was simply lost.
Sometimes, there are more sinister reasons. Some subprime finance companies or buy-here, pay-here dealers may want to keep a key in order to make it easier to repossess the car in case payments are not made.
The best way to ensure that you will get two keys when buying a used car is to ask the dealer how many keys will be included in the sale. Be sure to ask if the keys are "remote keys". It is important that you make the dealership to include the number of keys on the purchase order before you sign anything or before you pay a deposit. Remember, oral promises are hard to prove, so get it in writing!
For more tips on buying used cars, watch our Webinar on How To Buy a Used Car Without Losing Your Shirt (or Your Sanity!)