Transceiver (for key) (part of PATS)

  • 2005 FORD FOCUS
  • 2.0L
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • 180,000 MILES

Car failed to start. Brought it to a shop. They said it was "anti-theft system" and needed to be brought to Ford dealership. Brought car to dealership. They said it needed two keys, we had 1. $227 for new PATS 2nd key. Then they said they would find what was wrong with it. Today, they said it was the transceiver and want to charge $564 to replace same. I looked at the cost of this part (not extensively) and found no transceiver for this model that cost more than $75 I have no idea what to do except roll over and expose my wallet and let them rob me. Any suggestions?

Do you
have the same problem?
Friday, March 20th, 2015 AT 3:36 PM

1 Reply


Find a different shop for a second opinion. It's common knowledge that the engineers at Ford have gone way overboard with unnecessary, unreliable technology, but unlike GM that has locked everything up to force you to go to the dealer, the people at independent repair shops are able to work on your car.

I have mixed opinions on what to tell the second shop. Normally I would say to not tell them anything you learned from the first shop. Doing so can sway their diagnosis. If they're friends with the first shop, they may be inclined to make their estimate a little higher to make their friends look good. If the two shops aren't on friendly terms, the second one can give you an artificially-low estimate to make their competitor look bad, then they'll "discover" other things your car needs once they have you committed to having them repair it.

The other potential problem is if you tell the second mechanic what the first shop found, he may be tempted to just verify that diagnosis and base his estimate on that. If he is allowed, (forced) to perform his own diagnosis, he has more invested in being correct, and he will not skip any steps that could lead him to overlooking something.

If your car is still at the dealership, ask for a detailed explanation of the expected charges. I can't find a listing for a Remote Keyless Entry Module on my normal sources, so I don't know what it should cost, but I can offer some information from a very high-level national trainer that might shed some light on this.

His first comment had to do with "customer-friendly" business practices. That has to do with a manufacturer putting customer satisfaction and customer service ahead of profits. He stated Hyundai, Toyota, and Chrysler were at the top of the list. GM, BMW, and VW were at the bottom. Most cars today have numerous computer modules that have to have software installed over an internet connection after one is replaced. GM blocks independent repair shops from doing that. You're tied to the dealer. Hyundai allows any shop, even any car owner, to do that for free. Their car owners get full access to online service manuals for free.

Toyota and Chrysler allow any shop access to their web sites for a small annual fee, and computer software downloads for any computer other than the Security System cost $40.00. You do have to go to the dealer for Security System issues, otherwise what's the point of having it if car thieves could access it? Ford is somewhere in the middle of this list, and it is likely you can't just buy a replacement module and expect it to work. There is going to be a charge to install the software. That helps them pay for all the expensive equipment the manufacturers make them buy.

On the other end of the spectrum is Lexus. If you lose the keys, the only way to get new ones is to order a kit from Japan for $1500.00. That includes a new Body Computer, I think new lock cylinders, ... Oh, ... And a pair of keys.

I can't speak to the cost you listed other than to suggest no computer module is going to cost only $75.00. $564.00 could be an appropriate amount, especially if that includes installing the software, which might take up to an hour. I think my best recommendation, if you can find a tactful way to do this, is to request to see your old module after your car is repaired. I will never defend a dishonest repair shop, but in most cases where owners suspect fraud, it turns out that was not the case. Repair shops are supposed to give you back your old parts or make them available for your inspection. Computer modules almost always have to be returned to the manufacturer so they can be rebuilt and resold at a lower cost than that of a new one. That means you can't keep it unless you're willing to pay the "core charge". That's similar to failing to return empty pop bottles. If the mechanic really is trying to pull a fast one, (which is hard to hide), there won't be an old module to show you. Suppose, for example, he found a simple broken wire. The repair might take an hour including taking things apart to get to it, repairing the break, repairing whatever caused it to break so it doesn't happen again, putting things together, verifying proper operation, and writing up the repair documentation. If the mechanic were to lie and say you needed this expensive computer, the parts department is going to order it, and you can be sure they want to see that billed out on someone's repair order. They're going to want the old one back, so the mechanic can't keep it for himself. All dealerships charge labor times according to their books that specify how long each procedure should take. It doesn't take long to pop in a new module, so the mechanic isn't going to be paid very much to do that. He would still have to repair the broken wire so he's going to have a lot more time in the repair than he will be paid for.

As a side note to this sad story, the manufacturer can tell by the serial number on any computer module whether it has been replaced or not. If this were to ever result in some type of lawsuit or investigation, that mechanic may have to explain why the original module is still in the car when there is a record of it being replaced. Honest dealers won't risk that behavior adversely affecting their reputation. For a first, relatively small infraction, that mechanic might be reprimanded, but for anything this expensive, or for repeat offenses, he is sure to be fired.

If the service adviser is fraudulently trying to make you pay for a computer module, it is still going to have to show up on the repair order, and that has to happen through the parts department. They aren't going to bill that to you unless they actually ordered one and handed it to the mechanic. Some service advisers are paid a commission on the parts they sell because that gives them the incentive to twist harder on your arm to get you to agree to expensive repairs, but they still won't get that to go through without involving at least two other people, the mechanic and the person in the parts department.

There are other ways for a dealer to pick your wallet that don't exactly involve fraud. In my city we have two Chrysler dealers, a GMC dealer, Cadillac dealer, former Ford dealer, and a former import dealer that all are, (were) extremely reputable and worked well together as in borrowing service manuals and repairing each others' trade-in cars. We also have a Chevy dealer that is very underhanded. Nothing he does is illegal, but you can be sure repairs will cost a real lot more than at any other dealership. His reputation is well-known throughout many counties, and he has to constantly advertise for new, unsuspecting customers.

I realize I'm getting off-track, but hopefully I gave you some ideas on how to proceed. The bottom line is will your engine start when the repairs are completed. If it helps any, my former students used to come in with repair bills for their GM products to show them to me, and to them it was common and normal to have an $800.00 bill every six months. I drive a 25-year-old minivan that hasn't cost me $800.00 in its entire life!

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Friday, March 20th, 2015 AT 4:44 PM

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