Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On GM remotes and car fixes in the internet age

My keyless entry remote for my Yukon stopped working and I only had the one. Presuming it was not a big deal, I called the dealership and was told it was $65 for the fob and $35 to program it -- $100 + tax for a stupid remote? Unreal.

So what did I do? I Googled it, of course.

Turns out you can get the vehicle to enter programming mode by turn the key a couple of times while holding the unlock button and doing a headstand on the driver seat (I may be exaggerating); the process takes about 30 seconds. Then to program the remote, you hold the lock and unlock button together for 30 seconds on the remote and wait until the door lock and unlock. Turn the key in the ignition again and you're done. That costs $35?

So I grabbed a spare remote that was in the drawer, but, of course, there are different series of remotes and the one I had was too new for my car. I'm sure you can guess what I did next, right? I hopped on eBay. For $15 at the buy-it-now price plus $5 to ship, there are plenty of sellers that will send you the exact remote that you need along with detailed programming instructions and a guarantee that the remote will work. Pretty easy math: $20 vs. $65 any day.

The remote shows up, I program it, and problem solved for $20 vs. the $100 it would have cost at the dealership. Of course, this process would not have worked 7 or 8 years ago because the underlying internet infrastructure wasn't robust enough to find me the right knowledge and enable me to purchase from someone across the country that had what I wanted to sell (and I wouldn't have been blogging about it either).

Game changed.


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