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2008 Passion, now a 2016
580 Posts
I had one key for my recently purchased 2016 passion (453) and didn't want to take the chance of losing it, so I thought I'd get two more made (for 3).


Bought two keys off eBay for $30 each, and then set off to find a locksmith that could program the car for the keys (it's a misconception on the smart that you are putting anything into the key... it's all programming the car to accept the key, not the key to work in the car). I found many places that said they couldn't do it, and eventually I found a place that said they could do it for $300, so I set up an appointment the following Saturday and brought them the car and the one known good key. I made it clear to them that if this last and only key failed or got lost, things would get ugly expensive.

I showed up at their facility (a very sketchy counter in an indoor swap meet type of building - nothing at all like their website suggested they were - uniformed employees, brightly painted vans and trucks, etc...), the gal behind the counter took my one key and told me it would be 3-4 hours. 3 to 4 hours??? You're kidding right? If I was told that from the beginning, I would have had someone drop me off and bring me back, because there was no way I was going to leave this building and walk around in this part of Salinas (CA) just to kill time. It occurred to me that something more than time might get killed, so I waited... and waited... and waited. I soon saw the guy come inside and "cut" the keys on the machine. That took about 10 minutes. The rest of the time, I assumed was just making me wait to justify the $300 they were charging... after all, how long could it take to download and upload some code to the SAM?

Literally two hours into waiting, this young gal comes out with a computer tablet in her hand and tells me the following:
"We are going to have to completely erase the information in your cars computer and then re-upload the changes. There is a 2% chance that when we do this, we will not be able to reinstall the changes. We need your permission to move forward... oh, and because of the software that we are using, we have to get a license for a one time use and that will be another $50 cost to you."​

Seriously? A 2% chance? Where the hell does that figure come from? I asked what would happen if the procedure failed and she said the car would need to be towed to the dealership but she told me they would give me a ride the 25+ miles home. She assured me (probably from the look of frustration, disbelief, and "I thought you said you could do it" look on my face), that they would take care of any costs if this happened. I questioned her further, asking things like... "Okay so once these keys work, is my radio only going to work if the windows were down, and would my wiper blades only work if the left turn signal was on, and every time I hit my brakes was the windshield washer going to squirt?" I was trying to remain composed and not get any more frustrated with this whole operation, so I thought a little humor might help us both... it went completely over her head. She simply reiterated the company line and said, "I assure you that you will leave here with a car that was working exactly the same as when it got here."

I gave her permission to move forward, as at this point, I had already spent some 2-1/2 hours waiting in a place that I wouldn't normally spend 2-1/2 minutes. I was busily texting my son about my adventure and he could tell I was a bit shaken by the whole circumstances. I had him on standby to come and rescue me. About an hour later, she emerges from behind the counter (my car was in the alley behind their shop) and says, "Okay, your car is ready."

Phew! Blood rushed back into my head, air found my lungs once again, and I approached the desk to pay the bill. I had brought $400 in cash and was going to use that, but during this nearly 4 hours of waiting I had decided to use my credit card so that if my car decided to just stop running on the way home, I could at least dispute the charge to my account until things were settled. She pushed the three keys towards me as I was getting the card out of my wallet and asked if I wanted to try them out... so I said, "you run the card, I'll check the keys." I went to the parking lot where they had brought my car back around, and tried every button on every key in every conceivable way. I checked my radio, my wipers, my turn signals, my lights, my door locks my power mirrors... everything I could think of.. Things were working well. I paid the bill and made a point to drive home with one of the two new keys. Total cost about $425 and I now have three working keys.

There. I've babbled on for a whole page, like I always do.
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