Cars have become safer to use and more secure against theft risks with time. Recent makes and models are generally equipped with effective anti-theft features, but they weren’t so common a couple of decades ago. Cars produced in the 1990s are still pretty common on the roads, so what keeps them from being stolen? Say hello to transponder key programming!
If you’ve got a 90s vehicle in your garage, you probably own a transponder key. In this article, we’ll get into the details of how transponder keys are and how they’re programmed — let’s get started!
What Are Transponder Keys?
Transponder keys are traditional car keys with an added security measure known as a transponder chip. It adds a few more layers to owner verification to limit your vehicle’s access to authorized people who have transponder keys. It does this by sending a unique signal that communicates with your car’s transceiver.
The car only starts if the signal gets verified — which means if someone tries starting the car even with a duplicate key, it won’t work without the correct key signal.
Older vehicles only require the right key to start, but transponder systems add an electronic layer to the security. Even if someone has the exact same copy of your key, the engine won’t start without the proper corresponding signal. However, they might still be able to open your trunk and doors.
Does Your Car Have a Transponder Key?
The average car owner doesn’t know if their car has a transponder key or a traditional one. If that’s you, have a look at your car key. Is there a thick plastic covering on top? If so, there’s probably a transponder chip inside.
You can also verify if your key has a transponder by opening up the key’s plastic casing and finding the chip. However, try not to scratch or damage the chip as that might make the key useless for starting the car.
Another way to tell if your car has a transponder key is to check if a simple key duplicate can start the vehicle. If so, your vehicle doesn’t have a transponder system. However, be gentle when starting the car with a non-transponder key because it might damage the ignition if the vehicle has a transponder key.
You can also reach out to a vehicle locksmith near you to see if you’ve got a chip inside your key. They’ll let you know if you’ve got a transponder key and do the programming for you (if need be). Speaking of which…
How Long Does Transponder Key Programming Take?
Programming transponder keys requires programming tools this autopropad, and only requires a few minutes. All you need is the vehicle or just the key, and a blank key can quickly be programmed to start your car! Even if you don’t have the original key at hand, automotive locksmiths can cut you a new copy using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
Can You Do It Yourself?
Car owners can sometimes program their own transponder chips as long they have the necessary basic knowledge and the right tools. However, it can be a pretty tricky task if you’re doing it for the first time without professional guidance. The programming process is slightly different for all vehicles, and you might not have access to the right tools.
We’d recommend contacting your local automotive locksmith to avoid the programming hassle, especially if you’ve never done it before. All the best!