As the years have gone by, everyday objects have become more complex, efficient, and adept. Our cell phones can act as cameras, our laptops can record videos, and our keys contain transponders. If that last innovation has you scratching your head, let’s delve in a little further. Chances are, if you’re over the age of sixteen, you’ve driven a car using a transponder key. Nearly all modern cars (built in 1995 or after) come equipped with transponder keys, because they’re relatively inexpensive and they greatly reduce the possibility of theft. So what is a transponder key? Scroll down to find out.
What Is a Transponder Key?
Transponder keys, which make up the majority of modern car keys, contain transponder chips that help prevent car theft. They’re tiny and incredibly convenient, and although they’re most commonly used as car keys, you might also find transponders in keys for gates, homes, and garage doors.
The word transponder is short for transmitter/responder, and the device (a mini electronic chip) is able to receive and transmit radio signals. Transponders are customized, so each one can only start a specific vehicle. When you put a transponder key in the ignition and attempt to start the car, the engine control unit (ECU) sends a radio signal to the key’s transponder. If the ECU receives the correct signal (a unique serial number) back from the transponder, the car will start. So even if a thief has a key cut identical to yours, the key’s transponder must also be programmed identically for the car to unlock and mobilize.
Things to Know
- The auto manufacturer typically programs the car to fit the transponder key (sending the transponder’s digital identity code into the car’s computer memory), and as I’ve already mentioned, most cars these days come fit with transponder car keys.
- Although transponder keys greatly deter car theft, there are ways for criminals to work around the transponder system. So don’t assume that your car is thief-proof!
- Replacement transponder keys (which are created by locksmiths and auto dealers) can be pricey, so take care not to lose your key. If possible, have two transponder keys, one to use regularly and one (a spare) to keep in a safe place for emergencies.
- If your car is older, you can have it retrofitted for a transponder key by an auto dealer or locksmith. However, since the car isn’t built for this sort of system, the purchase might be expensive.
- The most recent step in transponder technology? Keyless entry systems.
Transponder keys are a great way to protect your car from thieves and chances are, your car already has one!
If you need to have a transponder car key made or replaced and you live in Springfield, MO, contact Advanced Key. Since 1982, we’ve been providing the Springfield area with a variety of locksmith services, including mobile service, automotive replacement keys, commercial and residential re-keying, the change and installation of locks, and ignition service and repair. So if you’re in a jam, give us a call at 417-865-9393 or click here to contact us online. We would be happy to help!