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Transponder Chip Keys: What They Are & How They Work

We understand that losing your car keys can be stressful, more if the vehicle uses a transponder chip key or any other kind of high-security key. It is important to understand the functionality of transponder keys so that tackling them during technical difficulties can be an easy task.


What are they?

Transponder keys which are short for transmitter and responder, have an electronic microchip built into the head of the key, and that is the reason why individuals call them chip keys. The main object of transponder key systems is to eradicate auto theft, and thus is it significant to your car’s security system or even anti-theft system.

The transponder chip technology programming was devised during World War II, but it was unpopular until the 1990s. Cars with transponder chip keys have an antenna coil in the ignition and once the key is placed inside, the ignition coil creates an electronic magnetic field. The transponder chips in the plastic head of the key connect with this electronic magnetic field, authenticating if the key is accurate. If the transponder chip does not receive the correct code, the immobilizer will not allow the car to start. These keys act as an anti-theft device that won’t enable the car to begin unless there’s a key in the ignition.


How do they operate?

The sole purpose of transponder keys is to offer extra security to the car. They have a small computer chip embedded which is used to authenticate the original car key and the duplicated car key. When it is plugged into the ignition, the Engine Control Unit sends a coded signal to the key for its operation. These keys do not have batteries but an embedded chip that is powered by radio signals sent by your car. These radio signals have low strength so they activate the chip only when the keys are very near to the dashboard or when it is pushed into the ignition to begin the car. They are range limited and only function in the frequency range area of 125 kHz. Every transponder key is unique, sends a coded radio signal and is specially programmed to a specific vehicle.


The vehicle’s security light will go out once the transponder key has been recognized. But if in a situation, the security lights begin blinking, it means that the car’s computer isn’t recognizing the code signals from the chip key and the car won’t begin operating. In that situation, it is best to call for a professional locksmith so that he can program the new transponder key for your use.


In case you ever lose your set of transponder keys, there’s always an option of getting a new one, but that won't ever solve a problem. So, in this situation, it is best to always have your current transponder car key re-programmed by a reliable professional locksmith like us. We at Cheetah Locksmith specialize in programming ignition keys and can effectively offer advanced machinery for key programming services.

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