How Does the Transponder Key Work on the Modern Car?

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The first car models did not have keys, and to get them started, you’ll need to follow several complicated steps. It usually begins by reaching for the rotary switch which will turn on the ignition.The next step will involve cranking up the engine. By 1910, the first car keys became available, but their function was only to lock a car’s ignition system. Turning on the engine remained a separate process.

Over three decades later, Chrysler introduced a car that could be started by inserting a key into the ignition switch. From that time on, vehicle keys underwent further innovations, and their main purpose was to provide protection against car theft. Many motorists these days have access to more sophisticated car keys, such as transponder keys.

What is a transponder key?

During the 1990s, laser-cut car keys became particularly popular in the auto industry as they were challenging to replicate and, as such, provided more security for the modern car. At the turn of the century, transponder keys were introduced, initially in Europe, before they eventually made their way to American shores.

A transponder key is an electronic device used in vehicles to help prevent theft and improve security. It contains a computer microchip that sends a unique signal to your car’s ignition system, allowing it to start. This signal is generated by the key and verified by the vehicle’s computer, ensuring that only the correct key can start the engine.

History of Transponder Keys

The history of transponder keys, sometimes called by several other names like a chip key or transponder key chip, can be traced back to the 1980s, when automotive manufacturers began to develop more advanced security systems for vehicles. General Motors is credited with introducing the first chip key in 1985 when it designed VATS or Vehicle Anti-Theft System to stop the rising incidences of Corvette thefts.

In 1996, Ford Motor Company introduced its version of the transponder key. Other major car brands followed soon after, such that vehicles produced in the last two decades are likely to be driven by transponder keys.

How do transponder keys work?

The transponder key transmits a unique signal to the vehicle’s ignition system. The signal contains information about the key’s identity. When the key is inserted into the ignition, the vehicle’s computer system sends a request to the transponder chip, asking for its unique information. If the details transmitted by the key match the information stored in the vehicle’s computer system, the car will then start.

Apart from the key and your car’s computer, two other important components are involved. Firstly, there is the battery inside the key, which generates the power so the signal can be sent from the transponder key chip to the car’s computer system. Secondly, the antenna, which is usually located near the ignition, receives the signal and transmits it to the ignition.

How To Program a Transponder Key

Programming transponder keys is usually done by your dealer, although a professional locksmith company can also do this for you. In most cases, the process involves the following steps:

1. Connecting a diagnostic tool to the vehicle’s computer system.

ADL-Car Computer

The diagnostic tool communicates with the car’s computer system (usually located under the dashboard near the steering column) and programs the car key transponder.

2. Entering the programming mode in the computer system.

To enter the programming mode in the computer system, turn the ignition on and off in a specific sequence. The sequence will depend on the make and model of the vehicle. For this information, you can refer to the owner’s manual.

Remember that you should not start the engine when the key is in the ignition and switched to the on position. The ignition system has to be in a position where your car’s electrical system is switched on. Once electric power is in the system, the ignition can be safely placed in the off position and the key removed.

3. Programming the transponder key.

ADL-car key

Programming the transponder key involves the key transmitting information to your car’s computer system. The information includes the key’s identity and the code that generates the signal. Your car will be in security mode at this stage, with the dashboard lights turned on. The programming process is complete when the dashboard lights switch off, although this will still have to be tested to confirm.

4. Verifying the programming that was entered.

After programming the key, you need to verify that the programming was successful. You can check that programming was successful by starting the vehicle using the new ignition key transponder. If your car responds, the programming is considered successful. However, some vehicle models may have additional programming steps, while others may require specialized tools or equipment. Given this, it’s best to consult the owner’s manual or get a professional locksmith to do the programming for you.

Key Takeaway

Car keys have come a long way since first being introduced, and these days, some keys can be used remotely, even from a distance, to start a car.

While these advancements make driving easier and more convenient, they also serve as anti-theft devices. Indeed, this is the real reason the transponder chip and other similar devices were invented in the first place. Thus, if you want an added layer of security for your car, having a complex car key system is something you should consider.

However, installing a transponder key system can be challenging, and it’s hardly a good idea to try installing them yourself. For the best results, ask a reliable locksmith company to do the work for you.

Get expert locksmith services from Alexius Denver’s Locksmiths.

Installing a transponder key system is integral to most cars’ security systems. However, the installation process can be complicated, so it is better to leave this to professional locksmiths who have training in this area and know what they are doing.

One example of such a locksmith is Alexius Denver’s Locksmiths, a reliable locksmith company that has the resources and the expertise to quickly and efficiently install the transponder key security system. Contact our professional locksmith in Denver to discuss your unique requirements for keeping your precious automobile investment safe and secure. Call us now, and let’s discuss how we can help you.

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