Locksmith Talk - What is a Transponder Key?

The majority of automotive keys can be categorised into two branches:


1. Transponder (Chipped) keys

2. Non-Transponder Keys (Plain flat metal key)


The alternative vehicle key to these is a remote key (although still using transponder chips). These are not to be confused with Transponder keys, transponder keys DO NOT offer remote functionality.


A bit of history about the transponder key first, the word transponder comes from the merge of "Transmitter + Responder" (Transponder!). The idea of the chipped key came into play to reduce the car theft risk, initially cars were stolen with the help of duplicated keys. Adding a transponder chip to the vehicle keys reduced the rate of stolen vehicles by an average of 40%. In addition to this, previous theft methods such as the hot wiring method to steal the vehicles no longer works due to a high percentage of cars released since use the transponder chips within keys.


A transponder key is a key that has a small microchip imbedded within the plastic key head of your vehicle key which receives a code from your vehicles ECU (Engine control unit). The vehicle authorisation codes must match up to the ones on the vehicle key and the key must match the ones on the vehicles ECU otherwise there will be a negative response will result in the vehicle not starting.


A positive to a transponder key is that transponder keys do not have a battery; with it being an embedded chip which is powered by the radio signals that are sent by the car. The radio signals are of a very low strength that they activate the chip only when the key is very near to the dashboard or when it is pushed into the ignition to start the car.


If you just want to lock and unlock the doors of your car, you do not need a transponder key or a vehicle key with a chip embedded - HOWEVER to start your car, you do require a transponder key.


If you are just wanting to lock and unlock the doors of your vehicle you would be able to get a Non-Transponder Keys (Plain flat metal key). The flat metal key, this single or double sided (cuts on top and bottom) key operates solely off the mechanical cuts. When the different size cuts on the key match the different size tumblers in the lock, the key should turn and open and lock the doors. It is always good to get a copy of your key in plain flat metal format and to keep this somewhere safe, so if you do lose your keys you do not have to pay fees that could have been avoided by taking early precautions.


Key replacement can be done from either your local dealership which can sometimes result in being costly or by a professionally trained automotive locksmith. At Train Locksmiths we are able to supply and provide remote keys, transponder keys and cloned keys. For any type of Transponder key replacement (or vehicle replacement), visit us in-store at Train Locksmiths, Prospect House, 32 Bolton Rd, Atherton, Manchester M46 9JY or alternatively contact us through phone or e-mail for free none obligatory quotes bookings@trainlocksmiths.co.uk or 0800 458 5117.