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What is a Transponder Key?

Understanding Your Transponder Key

The transponder key is the ignition-cum-unlocking key to most vehicles made after the year 1995. The key has a transponder chip that can unlock your car door from a distance. It does this by disarming the vehicle immobilizer when the car key is used to start the engine. On turning the key in the ignition, the engine control unit of the car sends an electronic message to the key, allowing it to start the car, provided it receives the right message back. For this reason, even a simple car key without any buttons must have a key that has been cut correctly. The cut of the key will decide if it turns the locks and also if it has been programmed correctly to disarm the immobilizer.

The word ‘transponder’ comes from joining two different words, namely ‘transmitter’ and ‘responder’. The transponder is a small chip that is embedded into the plastic head of the car or motorcycle key. This chip receives a signal from your vehicle (from an antenna ring located around the ignition cylinder). The vehicle receives the unique response from the transponder key, in the absence of which, the computer will not allow the vehicle to operate. To know more about your transponder key and how it works, you can always speak to your nearest locksmith in St. Louis.

Why Does My Car Have a Transponder Key?

The traditional car lock system is one that can easily be hot-wired. Having a transponder key for your car ensures that you are the only person who can access your car. It is difficult to start the car if the device used at the switch does not detect the low level signal from the key. This means that any key that has been copied, and therefore having the wrong signal, will immediately be rejected by the car lock system. Hotwiring a car will also not work as the system will not receive the right signal. Try to speak to your locksmith in St. Louis about how to prevent theft of your car, and how to safeguard your keys or make a spare set.

How Do I Differentiate Between a Transponder and a Normal Key?

A normal key has a plastic head that is slightly slimmer than that of a transponder. A transponder key will have a slightly thicker head, as it has the chip embedded. A transponder key is also more expensive than a normal key. One quick way to find out how much your key could cost you is to call your car dealer and ask how much a replacement key could cost you. If it costs anything more than $50 then you know that it is a transponder key.

Finally, a clever way to find out if you have a transponder is to wrap the plastic head in a few layers of tin foil and then try to start the car with it. If it does not work, then you know there is a transponder present in your key.

How Do I Make a Copy of My Transponder Key?

The best way to make a copy of your transponder key is to contact a 24 hour locksmith in St. Louis to make a copy, reprogram or clone your transponder key. Automotive locksmiths are the best people to contact on this one, as they have both the equipment and the expertise to accomplish this.