Most cars manufactured in the past 20 years have transponder keys as part of their anti-theft security measures. Remote keys are also used with keyless entry systems for homes, gates and garage door remote openers.
Transponder devices use microchips to transmit a low-level signal from a key that is read by a remote receiver. The microchip is programmed by the manufacturer with a unique serial number. Using RFID (radio frequency identification), the receiver must detect the correct serial number in order to unlock or open. Similar to key fobs, transponder keys are often used with car locks and home security systems, as well as to open gates and garage doors.
In the case of transponder keys for cars, when the key is inserted, the signal is sent to the receiver located near the ignition. If the digital serial number in the transponder matches the one programmed in the car, it will start when the driver turns the key.
Transponders keys provide a higher level of security for vehicles in two ways. They help deter and prevent car theft by rendering ‘hot wiring’ or breaking the ignition lock ineffective. If the car doesn’t detect the key’s microchip or the exact serial number, it won’t start. Where a traditional ignition key only has a few standard cut combination, a transponder key’s digital ID is virtually unique.
The use of a digital identity creates many more potential combinations than the use of standard cuts on a mechanical key and lessens the chance that someone else’s key could be used in your car.
Unfortunately, nothing is fool proof, not even transponder keys. Criminals have developed ways to break-in to cars, even those with transponder key security.
It’s not always clear who you should turn to if your transponder key has been lost, stolen or has stopped working. Whether you need a replacement key, a new battery or to have a new key programmed, ask a trusted locksmith.
Not many people know that locksmiths can help with remote keys. Locksmiths use the same equipment as car dealerships to replace remote car keys and program new ones. They have the skills to make a perfectly functional duplicate car key with a chip at a fraction of the price.