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I need a second (spare) smart key for my 2005 Mercedes A Class. Short of going through a Mercedes dealer is there a relatively cheap way of acquiring one?

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You will want to look at this thread and this thread and associated links within the answers there. It appears MB has you coming and going with the Smartkeys. From what I was reading, it appears you have to go through MB to get them due to how they are programmed and recognized by the car. I'm sure this is to help reduce theft of MB vehicles. –  Paulster2 Jan 9 at 11:18
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No, there is no relatively cheap way. There ARE ways, but they're definitely not cheap. My car has a similar key to yours and the best price I was quoted was ZAR 1600, which translates to 100 Pounds or $160.

You may get away with having a spare key made without the electronic transponder. That should be much cheaper, but you won't be able to remote lock or cancel your alarm.

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