What is an automotive transponder key?


Most of us take our car keys for granted. You put the key in the ignition, turn it, and the car starts -- it's simple. But there's a lot going on that we don't see every time we turn our car key. In most cars, an electronic signal is being exchanged that allows us to start the vehicle. Without it, we'd be sitting immobile, key or no key. 

The transponder technology

The technology behind this process is simple. They key fob of a modern car key contains a small RFID chip called a transponder, which can send electronic signals. When you turn the key in your car's ignition, the vehicle's engine control unit (ECU) sends out a pulse of energy, activating the chip. Upon activating, the chip transmits an authorisation signal, a unique alphanumeric code that identifies it as the transponder for that vehicle. Once that signal is received, the ECU releases the immobiliser that prevents the car from starting. 

Effects of transponder keys

Transponder keys make it much harder for a thief to steal your vehicle; it's no longer possible to simply make a copy of the mechanical key or to hot-wire the car. That's why immobilisers became mandatory for new cars in Australia in 2001. Of course, car thefts still happen -- thieves may break into a target's home to steal car keys, for example, or take them from a victim's pocket or purse. But research has shown that these systems reduce car theft significantly. 

Replacing a transponder key

If you've lost a transponder key, or if it's been damaged in some way, most locksmiths will be able to replace it for you. Car remote replacement is a standard function for locksmiths with automotive experience, and your locksmith will be able to tell you which makes of car they support. You can also get a replacement key from your auto dealership, although you may find this service a little more expensive than just getting a new one from a locksmith. 

Adding an immobiliser to an older vehicle

Most cars built since the late 1990s have immobilisers -- they were common even before they became compulsory -- but if you drive an older vehicle, you may still want the added security of a transponder key system. After all, older vehicles are prime targets for car thieves, according to the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council. A reasonably-priced immobiliser system will make your car more secure and increase your peace of mind. 

Even though transponder keys are an important part of our automotive security, most of us forget they're even there. Replacing one may seem like a challenge, but it's all in a day's work for your locksmith. 


20 April 2017

Locks, Keys and Safe: Updates on Crime and Hacks

Hi, my name is Max. I have been around the locksmith industry since I was a little kid, and as I got older, I begin investigating crime and hackers. In order to have the safest and most secure locks and safes, you need to know what criminals and hackers are doing. You need to know about the threats so you can identify the best ways to secure your home and office. In this blog, I plan to explore facts, news and cutting edge research about locks, keys and safes. I also plan to look at the dark side of things and discuss how criminals and hackers are currently getting past security. Ultimately, I hope this info helps lead you to the safest locks.