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Expensive @$$ Keys!


Well, I’m happy to report that my car issue has now been resolved.

Several people commented on my original post with tips, suggestions, and ideas and I thank you all. Many of you advocated going ahead and starting to look for a new car, given that this seems to have become a pattern (this being our 3rd electronic-related repair in the past year and a half-ish). That being said, I didn’t feel good about that option. I know I don’t want to take on more debt and the thought of trading in my paid-off car to trade down to a “lesser” car wasn’t very appealing. If I’m able, I’d rather stick it out with my vehicle a while longer and try to continue attacking our debts.

So what was the problem, you may ask???





The keys. Something was messed up with the keys. The guy didn’t give me a great explanation (at least one that I could understand) for why the old keys stopped working. But for some reason, they stopped working. As part of the anti-theft system in the car, the vehicle would not turn on because it wasn’t “recognizing” our key as the correct key for the vehicle. So nothing was actually wrong with the car, itself. It was some glitch or error with the key and the anti-theft system prevented the vehicle from starting.

Nearly a thousand dollars later, I have two new keys and I’m back in my car.

Yes, you heard that correct. Nearly a THOUSAND DOLLARS went to this repair.

I’m using round numbers here, but it broke down as follows:

  • Car rental for 2 days (plus taxes and fees) = $100
  • Car tow to the dealership (Progressive paid for the first tow to the local repair shop, but the’d only cover 15-miles total and I had to have it towed from the local repair place to the dealer) = $100
  • 2 New Car Keys (including parts & labor) = 550
  • TOTAL: $750

So if you want to see the most expensive key on the planet (as far as I’m concerned), feast your eyes on this sucker:

I’ve opened up a little bit about various mental health issues I’ve been struggling with. So instead of seeing the major negatives in this situation (mainly the $$$$$$$), I’m really trying to focus on the positives. When the car key issue occurred, we were at home. We’re so lucky we weren’t stranded somewhere else (think about if it would have occurred while we were on one of our cross-country road trips back to Texas!). I’m also so glad the repair ended up being a quick and easy thing. I was originally being quoted a 3-week wait to get the car back! But after the dealer got the car, they had the keys programmed and I was able to pick up the car the very next day. Also, I’m glad nothing major was wrong with the car, itself. It felt major just due to the inconvenience of having to share one vehicle (plus the giant price-tag seems to have indicated a giant issue), but no. The issue itself was very minor and that makes me feel a little more secure with keeping the vehicle and NOT trading it in.

Right now I’m cautiously optimistic. I do think these car issues have started to multiply. I was really hoping to drive this vehicle for 250,000+ miles. Now I’m not so confident in that plan and whether the vehicle will hold out that long. I think we need to get a better plan in place for vehicle repairs and we need to start thinking longer-term about what our  next vehicle will look like (how much we want to spend, how long it will take to save, timeframe for when we want to buy, etc.). I’ll be honest. I know 2018 just barely began, but I see this as our year of finding balance. I think we’ll continue to make baby steps toward our debt-eradication goals, but I don’t think we’ve got any wiggle room to start saving up for a new vehicle. So for the time being, I’m going to hope and pray our current car holds out and keeps going strong for us. Maybe 2019 will be the year we begin saving up a “car fund” for a new vehicle. I don’t know. All I do know is that this month just got a major blow in terms of finances. Not the way I’d wanted to start my new year. But, again, I’m trying to focus on the positives. Things could have been worse. I’m just glad to have my car back. Along with the nicest set of keys I’ve ever seen in my life (lol).

Anyone else have a big financial obstacle this year already? How do you deal with big financial blows?


  • Reply Reece |

    Glad to hear it was a simple, if expensive, fix. Is this the car you paid off a year ago or so? If so I bet you’re glad you can just pay the repair and not still be paying in the car itself! We’re you able to cash flow the repair with your emergency fund?

  • Reply Cheryl |

    We just bought a 2014 ford flex two months ago and at times the car is telling us the passenger door is open. After looking online I found this has been a problem with ford for years. It makes me sick and we will never buy a Ford again. Years ago we bought a Ford minivan and my dh had to disconnect the interior lights because they never went off. I said then no more but my dh really wanted this car. As soon as the weather warms up we are having the dealership replace the door latch, we’ll see how that goes. Cheryl

  • Reply margann34 |

    We started the month with nearly $800 in various medical expenses plus I need to pay $400 to my escrow account which is underfunded because my homeowners insurance keeps going up. I have recently decided to practice an attitude of gratitude. So I am thankful for modern medicine and that insurance exists. When I was a child, we has a gas explosion and fire which destroyed our house. I KNOW that homeowner’s insurance is important! I am glad to see you taking a more positive view on your car issues. I think that is an important step in recovering your mental health!

  • Reply Cory |

    Did you have 2keys and both stopped working. That would be a little strange. But if you just needed new keys cut and programmed that’s a little steep. Google ford key cut and programmed from dealer and it says $160 on average per key. We paid 150for a new key from Honda. Might be worth calls if the other local dealers to get a pulse on the prices and see if the dealer you went to is more expensive for any future work you might need

    • Reply Ashley |

      Oh wow, that’s interesting. It would really make me sick to discover we got ripped off on the key prices….I knew it was crazy expensive but just figured that was what they cost. We had 2 keys, but 1 hasn’t worked for awhile now, so it was just the other key that suddenly became defective

  • Reply Sheila |

    This past weekend, my minivan developed a crack in the windshield. We were just about to make it the entire month without going over budget. I checked our auto insurance and we have a $500 deductible. Without insurance the cost of a new windshield is $300.

    • Reply Marzy-d |

      Did you specifically check your glass deductible? In my state they require that glass repairs be covered at a different, lower deductible than other repairs. Might be worth checking if your state is the same.

      Also, sometimes they can do a crack repair at a much lower cost than replacing the entire windshield, depending on how big the crack is.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Same comment as above. We have full glass coverage so we get repairs or replacements done free through our insurance and they’ll come wherever you are (home, work, whatever is convenient, etc.)

  • Reply Been There Done That |

    I drive a Toyota Corolla that really doesn’t have any bells and whistles. It even has windows that are wound by hand. It doesn’t have any fancy anti-theft devices installed but…..It is a standard stick shift, and they say that is the best anti-theft device! Fewer and fewer people drive standard transmission cars. I’m glad it wasn’t too bad of a problem with your vehicle.

    • Reply Sarah |

      Been There Done That: What year is your Corolla? We have a 1995 Geo Prism that is the same way. No bells or whistles. No alarm, no auto locks, roll down the windows, etc. Geo Prisms and Toyota Corollas were made on the same line back then – pretty much the same car except a few details and the name! Ours was made across the bay (SF) at the Nummi plant in Fremont (which is now the Tesla plant).

      • Reply Been There Done That |

        My Corolla is 2006 and now has 72,000 miles. I hope to drive it 10 more years at least, knock on wood! My husband does all our car maintenance, and there has been nothing major yet. He just recently replaced all the hoses as a preventative measure.

        • Reply Sarah |

          Our Geo has 116k miles on it – it is definitely our 3rd car. Once in a while we will get notes on it asking if we want to sell it but we don’t want to. I forgot to mention earlier that it is a stick also. I love to drive it.

          Besides regular maintenance, we had to once pay $800 in order for it to pass smog (in CA) and then we had to get a new clutch. Other than that, nothing.

          They are such good little cars!

    • Reply Ashley |

      I think the lack of bells and whistles can really be a good thing (not a lot of “electronic” components involved that might be susceptible to breaking). One of my past cars was a stick shift (a little Kia Spectra). It was so fun to zip around in!

  • Reply Jennifer |

    We have a 2014 ford focus and there was a recall for the door latch. I bet your car model was included. Call a deslership and give them your vin number. They can check to see if the previous owners had it replaced. I believe there is no time limit to having recall work done. Our focus has a class action lawsuit against it for a transmission/clutch issue. We bought it brand new and it has never been right. It makes me sick to think about it so i drive the 13 year old toyota matrix that we bought for 2,000 and the teenagers drive the $20,000 car

  • Reply Jean |

    I’m glad that it was a relatively simple fix. When I purchased my new (to me) car about 18 months ago, I bought the extended warranty because there are so many more electrical/computer components than there were on my previous car.

    This won’t help with your current vehicle, but if you were looking for a vehicle that you could drive for 250K miles, how much research did you do before purchasing your vehicle? I know that the “big 3” auto manufacturers are getting better with reliability, but IMO they still don’t compare to the ‘foreign’ auto manufacturers (I say foreign, but most of them are now assembled in the US). Just something to consider the next time you’re in the market for a new vehicle.

    You’re managing to handle everything that life is throwing at you right now so kudos to you. Keep your head down and keep plodding through.

  • Reply Maureen |

    This is turning out to be an expensive month-sigh! We owe a ton on taxes (I know you can sympathize with this). I can’t figure out how we owe so much. We both claim 0 and pay in extra on each check. We also paid quarterly on top of our payroll withholdings. I am befuddled! We also have had some unexpected vet bills. AND ready for it, just last month I had to spend $360 to do the same thing you did (replace key fob and programming). DH left it in his pants pocket and it went through the washer. Luckily, we had 2 sets and didn’t have to have the car towed. It was for a BMW, so everything is always more.

    On top all this DH had arthroscopic hip surgery in Dec. It was suppose to be 2 weeks on crutches and then he could drive. No, it was worst case scenario and he is on crutches for 8 and can’t drive-so I have to add chauffeuring to my time every day or we pay for Uber. We work in opposite directions. This week I was assigned to my own sexy ankle boot for a nagging/long term problem. Luckily, I can remove it to drive and commute. I am trying to look on the bright side, but it is hard. We have great jobs (which is the reason for the tax debt) and we are employed to pay what is owed. We have wonderful health insurance to cover our medical care and the hip surgery was in 2017 and the deductible was already been met. We are fairly young still and the hip fix should buy him many years before needing a replacement. I hope Feb. is a better month though!

    • Reply Ashley |

      WOW! I hope for a better February for you, too! That sounds like a LOT all at once! I love how you looked at the positives, too! Hopefully the positives will multiply from here! 🙂

  • Reply JayP |

    Ouch. I once replaced a $100 car battery because I was using the Honda “valet key” and so it wouldn’t start the car. doh. Anyway when these things happen I ask myself if I could have done anything differently. If the answer is no I don’t beat myself up about it. Kids sprain ankles, cars need tires, houses need maintenance, etc. Its just life. Probably would be a good idea to start a new car fund now though, so you can have money saved in a few years to buy outright. No car payments again for this guy!

  • Reply Sarah |

    For those of you wondering about recalls on vehicles, there is a website called


    Click on the box on the right and type in the VIN of any vehicle. All the recalls will come up.

    A year ago, our son was looking for a car in the year 2010 range. It seemed like every car we checked had an airbag recall on it. At the time, that was a huge deal as there were no replacement airbags to fix the recalls. Now that they have the replacements, it is easier to get them fixed.

So, what do you think ?