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What’s the Difference Between a Transponder Key and a Remote?

As a car owner who has previously lost your car keys, you might wonder why it’s quite so expensive and complicated for a dealer to replace the key and we will take some time answering your question today. But first you need to understand that there are two types of automotive keys, namely transponder and non-transponder keys. Transponder keys are not to be confused with automotive remotes. While an auto remove can lock and unlock your car, they operate independently from the transponder security system. Flat car keys on the other hand solely use the mechanical cuts to turn the lock.

The transponder key forms part of the anti-theft security system of the car, and the word is made up of the two terms transmitter and responder. The plastic head of the key picks up signals from the antenna ring around the ignition cylinder and when that happens, the vehicle will operate. Without it however, the vehicle is secure.

Modern transponders use a challenge and password transponder system, which may be encrypted with a rolling code. In this case, the password will change after every use. Using complex mathematical algorithms, the transponder has to crunch the number and respond.

Some cars still use more simplified chip keys that are equipped by identification numbers that are recognizable by the car. Much like an ATM PIN, this key works with the Vehicle Anti Theft System. Such keys are equipped with a resistor and one of fifteen different preset resistances. A key needs to be made using the correct cuts, turn the key cylinder and it must have the correct resistance (Ohm’s) in order for the car to start. If not, it will shut down and lock you out. During lockout, which lasts around 3-4 minutes, not even the correct key will successfully start the car.

What Happens When You Lose Your Transponder Key?

If you need a new transponder key, it has to be programmed, and a locksmith is best placed to do just that. Professional locksmiths combine years of experience with professional-grade equipment to achieve perfect cuts.

Since a car cannot tell the difference between an original key or a cloned copy, it is important to find out which type of transponder key you will get. There are two types, of transponder keys, namely zero bitted, and encrypted. It is important to find a locksmith who owns transponders from all the different car manufacturers, and has the equipment to create a new key for you.

Likewise, it is important to find out whether you can upgrade to a better type of transponder. Some chips require batteries for operation, and others don’t. By choosing one that does not use a battery, you don’t ever have to worry about a battery going flat or leaving you stranded.

Zero bitted keys are meant to be cloned, as they don’t have a preset inscription. These keys are created by inserting your key into a tool before inserting a blank key into the same tool. This way, they can clone your key onto a zero bitted key blank.

Encrypted keys do have a preset, which is a random encryption that needs to be programmed to your car. The locksmith will take a new key to your car, using a tool which hooks up to the car’s OBD port. He will use this tool to add a new, unique and encrypted key to your system. Some brands require all working keys to be present for a new encrypted key to be added, or else they may fall out of the system.

When you need a new transponder key, it is best to call a professional locksmith to handle it for you.

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