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Transponder Keys

Transponder Keys

Transponder Keys

Many vehicles manufactured after 1995 utilize transponder key technology. A consumer will be very hard pressed to find any vehicle not using a transponder system if they are looking into purchasing a new vehicle today. The transponder chip disarms a vehicle immobilizer when the car key is used to start the engine. Many locksmith clientele are shocked to hear the price of transponder keys because even for a simple car key without any buttons; the key must be cut correctly to turn the locks, and also programmed correctly to disarm the immobilizer. Car keys with chips must be programmed using cloning machines, on board programming equipment, or programming procedures.



The process of key identification is similar in most automotive transponder systems. Once a key is inserted into the ignition lock and turned, the induction coil that is mounted around the ignition lock sends out an electromagnet field of energy. The windings in the transponder chip absorb that energy and power the electronic chip to emit a signal. The induction coil reads the signal and sends it to the vehicle’s ECU to recognize the signal. If the signal is recognized as being already in the computer’s memory, the signal is accepted and other electronic components in the vehicle are set into motion to allow the starting of the vehicle. Without the programmed key, the vehicle will reject the wrong signal, or lack of signal, and not allow the vehicle to start.


Locksmiths everywhere are trying hard to keep up with this changing industry. Each vehicle model year introduces new challenges in technology. Transponder keys have started using sidewinder or side-cut key blades, which provide additional security, but also another hurdle for locksmiths who provide duplication services. Some vehicle manufacturers have limited their release of information to aftermarket programming companies, making the job of programming even more difficult. Locksmith supply and tool companies can provide much of resources needed to work with transponder key technology. Products such as key programmers, cloning machines, transponder keys, and key blanks are all available at

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