In the old days, if you ever lost your car key, you would have a spare key that you’d easily had made at the local locksmith, hardware store, or dealership. However, nowadays, losing your keys has become much more problematic than it used to be in the 1990s ~ in other words, before computer chips. A traditional car key, with its unique grooves and cuts, was just like a house key, so you could get it duplicated inexpensively.
The downside to a regular car key back in the day was of course that, because it was easy to copy, it was also relatively easy for a car thief to steal your vehicle. Cars are much harder to steal today because of advances in transponder key technology. A transponder key, even though it’s more expensive, is undoubtedly worth the peace of mind it affords you.
But what should you do if you’ve lost your transponder key?
What type of transponder key did you lose?
Inside your transponder key’s plastic head is a chip, which sends a singular signal, which goes to the receiver in your vehicle, instructing it to start. The main difference between a standard key and a transponder key is that the chip inside your transponder key must be programmed. For most cars today, an electronic key fob (also called the remote) is an integral component to the key set. It’s important that you protect your transponder key, because, depending upon the complexity of its design and on your automaker, the replacement of a lost electronic fob is typically very expensive. The fob has to be suitably programmed. There are some dealerships that will do it for free, but most will charge you an arm and a leg.
For some automobiles, the transponder key and the fob are an all-in-one unit. Also referred to as a laser-cut key, the shank is a little thicker, and has fewer carved-out grooves. Laser-cut keys are also referred to as “sidewinder” keys, because they have a winding-shaped cut on the shank. The laser-cut key’s built-in chip needs programming. It’s harder to get a spare key made anywhere, except at your dealership. It’s more expensive, but your car is more secure.
A switchblade key is another sort of key that has a transponder chip inside. A switchblade key has a shank, which folds into the fob when you aren’t using it. Press a button, and it will pop out. This key has either a laser cut or regular cut. One benefit of a switchblade key is that you can buy the parts separately. If you’ve truly lost your key permanently, then both components need programming.
A smart key is not actually a key ~ not in the normal sense of the word. It’s only a fob. You either stick it in the dash, or you keep it on your belt buckle, in your pocket, or in your purse. Just get into the driver’s seat, and you can start or stop your car by pressing a button. A smart key is ultra secure, since it has rolling security codes. That means it’s continually randomizing the right code, a major feature which prevents a potential car thief from hacking it with a code grabber. Replace your smart key at the dealership.
Have a spare key made.
Are you constantly losing your keys, arguing with your teenager or spouse over who lost whose keys? Save on transponder key programming by making a third spare key. Since you likely already have two keys (which you should have received when you purchased your car), a good number of models and makes will let you program a third key. First off, hire an automotive locksmith to cut you a third key; then you can read your owner’s manual and program it yourself.
The following procedure will work on many American-made automobiles. But before you spend your money, consult your dealership or ask your local automotive locksmith professional to see if these steps will be effective on your specific vehicle. If you’re anywhere in Riverside, California, track down a dependable local locksmith, such as a staff mobile automotive locksmith specialist of Riverside Locksmith.
- First, insert one of the two working keys, and turn the ignition to the “on” position for about three seconds (don’t start the car).
- Now, do the same thing with your second key.
- Finally, insert the new third key. Turn it to the “on” position for another three seconds. This will successfully program your extra key.
Do It Yourself
One thing you can do to get into your automobile is, you can get only the standard key, but not the transmitter. This is less costly, and you’ll at least have a key that will get you inside your car. This is handy if you lock your car keys inside your car. The programming element, which does the remote unlocking and locking, is a luxury, since it’s not really required for gaining entry or for driving. You can program this part by yourself by following the instructions in your owner’s manual. Or, hire an expert automotive locksmith technician to do it for you.
Don’t ever lose your transponder key again!
No matter how you slice it, a transponder key is expensive. The best way to prevent misplacing it again is to prepare ahead of time. Don’t tempt fate! If you have only one car key, it’s better to have a spare key made right now, than to get stressed out about it in the future, when you’ll end up in a crisis, spending much more than you ever wanted to.
Should you decide to program your transponder key, you’ll need:
- proof that you’re the owner, with two types of identification
- your vehicle’s chassis number
- the code on the manufacturer’s original code card, which originally came with your vehicle
If you can’t find that code, hire an automotive locksmith professional who will carry out the reprogramming correctly to get you back on the road again. A reliable professional will be qualified to help you, usually at a lower price than what the dealership will charge.