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When You're Having Problems With Your Transponder Key, Here's What to Do!

How does a transponder key work?

These days, transponder keys are basically standard for most cars. They make it more difficult for anyone to steal your automobile. Although it’s more expensive than a traditional key, a transponder key is worth the peace of mind you’ll have.

If you’ve used a transponder key - also called a transponder “chip” key - then you know how effortless it is to use than a regular key. These specialized keys are ignition keys that make it much easier to get in and out of your car, because you can unlock the doors without putting the car key in the lock mechanism; you can open the trunk remotely; you can activate and deactivate your car alarm; and, with some transponder keys, you can actually remotely start up your car.

A transponder key has a chip inside, which sends out a distinctive signal to your vehicle’s computer, a unique frequency aligned to your automobile only. When the signal is received, the mechanical part of the key releases the steering lock so you can activate the ignition.

Problems, however, can sometimes come up. Here’s how to get out of a jam when it comes to challenges with your transponder key.

Is your transponder key lost?

Losing your car key is a bigger problem than it used to be. Back in the day, with a conventional key, you could get a spare key duplicated for almost nothing, at any local locksmith company or hardware store, or even at your dealership. But a transponder key is something else. If you’ve permanently misplaced your transponder key, replacing it is expensive. Depending on your car’s make and model, and on the intricacy of the key’s design, the price for replacing your electronic fob will range from rather costly to exceptionally pricey. Some dealerships will reprogram your key fob for free, but most will charge a lot.

Was your transponder key stolen?

When you bought your vehicle, you were given two transponder keys. Of course, you can retrieve your other transponder key from a family member or friend who has your spare copy, which will get you back on the road for now. But bear in mind that since your transponder key is aligned to your vehicle only, a car thief who locates your key could easily steal your car. Therefore, you ought to get a replacement now, and reprogram both of them.

To get a transponder key copied, replaced, and reprogrammed, find an automotive locksmith specialist, or go straight to the dealership. In many instances, a locksmith will charge you less than your dealership will charge. If you’re in Surprise, Arizona, bring your questions and concerns to a reputable locksmith company. For example, the mobile staff automotive locksmith specialists of Surprise Secure Locksmith offer free consultations, and they’re available 24/7.

For some cars, the transponder key is an all-in-one unit, which includes the fob. It’s also called a laser-cut key. The shank is slightly thicker, with fewer carved-out grooves. It’s also called a “sidewinder” key, because of the winding-cut feature of the shank. The dealership will probably need to program the laser-cut key’s built-in chip.

A switchblade key is a transponder key with a shank that folds into the fob, which you pop out with the press of a button. A switchblade key has either a laser cut or a basic cut. One advantage of a switchblade key is that you can buy its components separately; yet if you’ve truly lost your key permanently, you’ll need to program both parts.

A smart key really isn’t a key at all - not in the customary sense. It’s simply a fob, which you either insert in the dashboard, or keep in your pocket or purse. You just sit behind the wheel, and just by pressing a button, you start up or turn off the engine. A smart key gives you extraordinary protection because of its rolling security codes. Continuously randomizing the correct code, it prevents a car thief from hacking it with a code grabber. If you’ve got a smart key, your car dealership will be capable of replacing it.

Did your transponder key stop working?

  • There could be a minute foreign object lodged in the ignition. Don’t attempt to take it out yourself, because you could easily damage the ignition irreparably. So, hire an experienced automotive locksmith professional instead, who is able to remove any foreign object from the ignition with the necessary precision, so you won’t need to replace the entire switch.
  • Another typical reason your transponder key may not be working is that there’s a manufacturer’s defect, which has been there since the beginning. If your vehicle is still under warranty, you can get the problem corrected at no cost. If it’s not under warranty anymore, then you’ll have to call an automotive locksmith.
  • Another possibility is that your transponder key can’t communicate with your automobile’s computer, because the chip has somehow lost its programming. You can get it reprogrammed, or, you can get a whole new transponder key with all-new programming. In either case, your car dealership or an automotive locksmith will be able to do it.

Do It Yourself

If you need to reprogram your transponder key, depending on your vehicle, you can take care of it yourself.

The following measures below will work well on a good number of American-made automobiles. But before you spend anything, ask your dealership, read your owner's manual, and/or consult with a local dependable automotive locksmith company to find out whether this procedure will actually be successful on your car:

1.      First, insert one of your two functioning keys. Turn the ignition to the "on" position for about three seconds (don’t start the car).
2.      Then, do the same thing with your second key.
3.      Finally, insert the new third key. Turn it to the "on" position for three seconds. This should properly program your extra key.

Surprise Secure Locksmith

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Dispatch Address: 16682 NW Point Pkwy, Surprise, AZ 85374
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Phone: (623) 498-8694