Most cars today come outfit with electronic keys fit with transponder chips – it’s a common security measure that is now the standard in the industry. However, many older, more vintage cars rely on typical mechanical keys for successful operation. Here’s a guide from the automotive lockout experts here at LocksmithMAN on the difference between transponder keys and non-transponder keys.

What Exactly are Transponder Car Keys?

Transponder keys transformed the security standards of the automotive industry after they began being used in the year 1985. General Motors introduced the – then luxurious – transponder key in their Corvette of that year. Transponder keys – like typical keys – use metallic blades with a specific sequence cut out inside it in order to fit the car’s ignition. However, transponder keys hold a small chip inside their plastic gap. This chip receives a radio frequency signal from an antenna ring in the car’s immobilizer, and then sends its own coded frequency back to the antenna. This antenna will then transmit this code to the car’s computer, which will disable the car immobilizer, allowing it to start. This entire process occurs in a simple matter of seconds.

 

Transponder keys were invented as a solution for the issue of car theft. Stealing a car became as simple as touching two wires together to make the car start – a process colloquially known as ‘hot wiring.’ With transponder keys, even if a car thief can get past the door locks of your car, they will not be able to start it – because there is no radio frequency code being transmitted to disable the immobilizer. Transponder keys ALWAYS need to be programmed to match the code in the car’s system – otherwise, they are useless to start the car. Professional automotive locksmiths, like those here at LocksmithMAN, can easily cut and program transponder keys to match your vehicle – as well as deleting old key codes from your car’s system, in case you have lost your original set of transponder keys.

 

What are non-transponder car keys?

Before the invention of transponder car keys, the majority of cars used typical metallic cut car keys. Non-transponder keys can still be high security – as they are usually double cut on their top and lower half, making it almost impossible to start the ignition without them – even with criminal picking tools. However, their lack of an immobilier-connected system will allow for the chance for criminals to start the engine if they hot-wire the car or manage to turn the ignition. Hot wiring is the most common method of car theft – and non-transponder keys can be easily copied by automotive locksmiths. 

 

It’s not possible to upgrade your non-transponder key to a transponder key, as if you have an older car model, it’s likely it doesn’t have a built-in immobilizer system. Make sure not to spend the extra money buying a new transponder key blank if you’re just looking to replace your lost non-transponder car keys. This concept is true vice-versa as well – don’t accidentally buy a chipless key if your car utilizer a transponder system, as you won’t be able to start your car. You can count on the automotive transponder key copying and programming experts here at LocksmithMAN to instantly provide you with perfectly operational transponder keys.

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