I sometimes feel like a nay sayer with many of the articles I write, however, I feel like I need to inform the general public of situations where they could be taken advantage of.
My topic for this article is remotes and “chip” keys.
First I want to clear up a few things on what a chip key is. They can and are called many different things by vehicle owners, manufacturers and dealers including some four letter words when priced by the consumer who just wants an extra key and didn’t even know their key contained a chip. Some terms you may have heard are transponder, chip, immobilizer, smart key, computer key, security key, anti-theft, PATS, Sentry key and there are many others. Irregardless of what they are called they are a key with a transponder in them. Below is a key we stock that you can see right through the head of the key. It happens to be a Ford key. And to the right of that a close up of a transponder. Many people are unaware that their is a transponder in their key because it is house in plastic and not visible.
What is a transponder? The word Transponder itself is a combination of two words; transmitter and responder. Occasionally abbreviated TPDR, TR, XPNDR or XPDR. When you put your key into your ignition and turn the key. An antenna either on, around or near your ignition transmits a signal to your key. They key then needs to “respond” back with the appropriate signal to let the car know its ok to start.
What is the purpose of a transponder? Simply put, to make your vehicle harder to steal. Forcing the ignition will not allow the car to run like it would on many non transponder vehicles. There are other systems that deture this as well, but I’ll save that for another article.
|Clear Ford Key Showing Transponder|
|Transponder From Inside a Key|
Transponder keys are not to be confused with VATS (vehicle anti-theft system) keys. These have what is called a chip in the blade of the key, however, its not a chip its a resister pellet. Still a security feature, but a whole different type of system and much easier to bypass.
And now that we have the basics out of the way we can get to the main subject of this article.
Chip keys are expensive. And many people try to by them off the internet to save some money. Here are some things to think about when buying off the net:
Many times when having a chip key made for your vehicle the largest part of the cost is the programming. Or when you have lost your keys all together a key will need to be originated which would also consider into the price. I’ve had customers buy their keys off the internet and then have me cut and program them only to find out it would have been cheaper to just have me do the whole job.
Are the keys you are buying new? It is a fairly common to do what is called re-chipping or re-blading keys. This is to take the chip from a key like a miscut or used key, which is usually the most expensive part and put it into a new shell or put a new blade on the key. Where this is all fine and dandy in some keys the chips are not reusable and will not be able to be programmed to your vehicle. One type of chip that comes to mind are the ones used in Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth and Jeep. These can be reused if the chip is “virginized” using special equipment, however, 9 out of 10 of these sellers don’t even have this equipment, as a matter of fact many locksmiths don’t.
What is the return policy? Am I going to be able to contact the seller if I have a problem? Like anything else you get a bad one every once in a while. And this won’t be known until it comes time to program the key.
Is the seller knowledgeable enough to know which key your car needs? A few vehicles have more than one option on the same year for different chips and it cannot be told until comparing the keys. And what’s worse is the wrong chip can be put into what appears to be the right key.
Many people want some kind of guarantee on their key, however, most locksmiths won’t warranty a key not bought at their shop. And for good reason. Would you want to be responsible for someone elses mistake?
Feel free to contact us with any additional questions you might have.
Steve’s Lock Out sells and programs chip keys and remotes in the Parsons, Kansas area. Feel free to drop by for an estimate at 1806 Main.
This is Steve signing off.