A Look Inside Your Transponder Car Key: How Does It Work?
Have you ever seen a bulky car key and wondered how it works and why it is so large? These are known as transponder keys, and actually offer quite a few benefits. Our Mesa auto locksmiths at US Key Service have banded together to give a simple breakdown of a transponder key and why everyone should have one.
What Is It Exactly?
A transponder key, short for transmitter and responder put together, is aptly named. Some people prefer to call it a chip key, due to its built-in electronic micro-chip inside the broad head of the key. Whatever you choose to call it, the basic purpose is to eliminate theft and provide an elevated level of security for your vehicle. It essentially works by sending a coded message to the vehicle it has been specifically created for, to unlock the engine and allow the car to start. Once the key is inserted into the ignition and turned, the engine will not start until the coded message has been authenticated. Unfortunately, while this complex security process is fantastic for anyone trying to steal a car, it makes replacing lost car keys in Mesa a tricky job, even for the most advanced Mesa car locksmith.
What is the History?
How did the creation of transponder keys begin? Well, the history of the key goes all the way back to the time of World War 2. Initially, military forces used this coded message process to discern friendly planes on their radars from enemy infiltration. This was so effective that it has withstood the test of time, and is being used in modern aviation today.
After making its start in World War 2, the coded message process was translated to combat increased car thefts in Germany. Additionally, GM was the first US auto manufacturer to produce a chip key for the 1985 Corvette – Corvette thefts were on the rise and as a result of the transponder key, were dramatically decreased shortly thereafter. After its effectiveness, the transponder key began to be produced by all major car manufacturers.
How Does It Work?
Basically, the automotive transponder system consists of four components: the chip key, the antenna ring or induction coil around your ignition, an immobilizer, and your car’s Engine Control Module (ECM). Once the transponder key is inserted into the ignition cylinder and turned, the antenna ring will send out a radio frequency burst, which is absorbed into the transponder chip. The chip will then send out its own radio frequency, the identification code, which is absorbed by the antenna ring and sent to the ECM. If the ECM recognizes the code, the immobilizer will disable and the engine will be allowed to start.
The security light on the dashboard will turn off once the security code is recognized; however, if that light blinks instead of turning off, that means the identification code is not recognized and the engine will not be allowed to start. At that point, if you are not trying to steal the vehicle, it is time to contact your local Mesa emergency car locksmith for help programming a new transponder key. If the key is not the issue, perhaps you need a professional mechanic to replace a worn out car ignition in Arizona instead.
Does It Require a Battery?
An added benefit of the transponder key is that batteries are not involved, unlike remote key fobs. This means that you will never have to worry about the key battery dying suddenly, and leaving you stranded in need of Mesa car lockout services. Rather, the embedded chip and security system run solely on low-strength radio signal that are activated only when the key is near the dashboard, or inserted and turned in the ignition cylinder. Additionally, know that the transponder key is not required for locking and unlocking the car doors, but simply for starting the vehicle.
What If I Need a New Key?
If your transponder key becomes damaged, lost, or simply stops working, it is time to visit the expert Mesa mobile auto locksmiths at US Key Service. In the past, these keys were extremely easy to duplicate, so any locksmith could make a new key for anyone, and cars could still be stolen with little hassle. However, these transponder key replacements have become a much more complex and difficult process, not to mention quite costly. Once the key is cut and created, you need to take the additional step of getting the car key programmed to match the code inside your ECM. This is where the extra expense plays in.
However, remember that you are ultimately protecting your luxury vehicle or trusty family rig from being stolen and leaving you completely without a car to get from Point A to Point B. With a little perspective, the added cost of getting a transponder key replacement really does not seem so bad in the big picture.
Overall, transponder keys have come a long way, and have proven their effectiveness throughout history time and again. For help with any transponder key repairs, replacement, or reprogramming, visit one of our US Key Service locations throughout Mesa, Phoenix, and the surrounding areas. Our experts are extremely knowledgeable, highly skilled, and friendly to all. We can help with basic services, specialized services, and will replace your lost transponder key with ease. Give us a call or visit us today to learn more!