Car Keys Types Explained

Today, we’re talking about car keys.
What types are there?
How transponder key works?
And why do they have to be programmed to your car in order for your vehicle to run?

Car Keys Types Explained

Section 1

Mechanical Key

mechanical key

Well, if you’ve been around as long as I have, you know about the old, standard car keys.
Basically, just a metal key. Nothing fancy on it. Good old fashion mechanical key.

You cut this key. You take it out to your vehicle. You turn the ignition. The car would run. But things started to progress over the last few years.

Section 2

Transponder Key

Transponder Key

After that mechanical key, they came out with something called “the transponder key.”
You can get a good look at that here.
Now, it has a plastic head on it, and in most cases, inside this plastic head is an inductor. And what happens is there’s a little handshaking that goes on, back and forth between your car and this key.
Your car puts out a magnetic shield, which goes to this key, which returns a little bit of current.
And based on that current value, your car will decide to run or not run.
Now, how does the car know what to expect? Because this key needs to be programmed to the vehicle in order for the vehicle to run.
You hook up to the car’s computer unit.
You tell it what value this key is going to return. You put the key in the ignition.
The car will start and run for you.
This is called a transponder key, and this is what brought about the need to program keys to cars.

Section 3



Next, is a basic car remote.
So, the remote used to be separate from the key itself Now, in some cases, this also had to be programmed to the car by hooking up to the vehicle’s computer, but in a lot of cases, in the old days, you can actually go through a series of steps to program the remote to the car so that the car would recognize the remote and lock and unlock your doors.

Section 4

Remote Key

Remote key

Well, the next thing the car manufacturer did is they combined those two units into a key remote combo.
Now, you’d think, “Oh, this is great.” Right? Everything can get done at once. But, no. What they really did is they took the transponder circuitry from the key.

They took the electronic circuitry from the remote.
They put into one unit, but they didn’t combine them. So, even today, a lot of cars that you find, you can program the head of the remote to the vehicle yourself without hooking up to the computer.

But in order to get the key to start and run the car, then you gotta hook up to the computer to get it to recognize the key.
So, a lot of times, what we have is customers will buy one of these online.
And they’ll say, “Hey. Here are your programming instructions.” They program it, and they go, “My remote works, but my car won’t start.” That’s when we have to come out and program the chip in the key to the vehicle in order for the vehicle to run.

Section 5

High Security Key

High security car key

Security became a concern at one point, and they came out with high security, laser cut key ways.

And basically, instead of the key cuts running along the edge of the key, the key cuts ran up and down the middle of the key, making it more secure.
However, it made it much more difficult to duplicate this key. And if you ever lost all of your keys, coming out and originating a key for the car was also much more complicated.

So, the expensive part of this key isn’t the key itself.
It’s no more expensive than a typical transponder key, but it’s the laser cutting of this key that makes this key very expensive, because you need an expensive machine in order to do the laser cutting of this key.

Section 6

Smart Key

Kia smart key fob

And nowadays, really the last step of evolution that’s really occurred is the smart fob.
So, if you’ve got a push button car… You’ve got a proximity fob.
You approach the car touch the handle and it’s unlocks the doors.
You sit in the car. You press the button, and the car starts.

“Oh, no. Now, I’ve got to go to the dealer to get my car key programmed.” No. No, you don’t.

Luckily, locksmith tools and equipment can handle this for you as well.
This type of key also equipped with an emergency key in it.
It’s a metal cut key so you can open the door in case the key or the car battery is dead.
A lot of times, that key is included so that if you ever have to get your car towed, you can unlock the transmission so that the car could be towed.
But, the remote part of it in almost all cases, this has to be programmed to the vehicle by a professional.
Your local Vancouver locksmith can handle that for you.

So, those are really the types of car keys that are available, all the way from the early mechanical, to the current fob keys, smart key systems where you push the button to start the vehicle.

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