Transponder keys, which incorporate
a small radio frequency device, are now being used by almost all the
auto makers on an ever increasing number of models.
Cars with this feature use keys which
have a small “chip” in the head of the key. When you turn your key
in the ignition, a digital code is transmitted from the key to an
antenna around the lock. This digital code may have several billion
or trillion possibilities. If you try to start a car using a key without
the correct code, the car electronically shuts down. Thieves can no
longer force and break to steal.
This greater security has a price. Expect to pay a lot more for a
transponder key. Even though all these keys function with radio frequency,
the procedure for originating and duplicating varies greatly by model.
Some new keys may be programmed with simple on-board steps, or by
using a programming device to clone the digital code to a replacement
key. Most other models require connecting special diagnostic equipment
to the car’s computer. In some cases, a vehicle specific PIN code
is required for the process.