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The Keys To Your Chariot

A car key in contact

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Your Chariot – Automotive security and Transponder Keys.

In years past the odds of someone else’s car key being able to fit your car were not that great. Today the odds of the key to a newer car fitting your car are very great. The newer technologies being employed have however made even getting a duplicate key to your car expensive and in some cases challenging.

Automobile security has changed dramatically in the last several years. We have gone from the era when there were only 2000+ key combinations used for every car of the largest auto manufacturer, to transponder controlled ignition systems, that change electronic codes each time you start your car. From the 30′s to the 60′s it was somewhat common that you might know someone whose car key also fit your car. Today just to obtain a duplicate key for your car, can be difficult and expensive.

What are transponder controlled systems and how do they work?

The technology, it may surprise you is really quite old. A “transponder” is in essence a combination radio frequency receiver and transmitter. It transmits a radio signal or binary code that can be picked up by another receiver, if the codes or signals match, then some action is allowed.

Transponder technology has been used for many years, and is still used today for aviation control. When a pilot needs to be positively identified in a radar environment, air traffic control will give him a specific code, that he will dial into his transponder, the transponder will continuously transmit that code, which will be received by the radar, a labeled “blip” will appear on the air control radar that shows exactly where that aircraft is.

 The miniaturization of electronics now allows a transponder to be placed in the head of your car key, this transponder transmits a specific code that is received by a receiver in the dashboard of your car, if they match, you can start your car.

Some of the problems with current transponder systems include;

  • No standard system – at last count there are five different manufacturers of these systems – how and who they allow to produce duplicate or replacement keys seems to differ with each system.
  • Some will allow only the manufacturer of the car to service any part of the system – this usually results in severe time and expense penalties.
  • Some will only allow the auto dealers to service systems or provide duplicate keys – again the result is more time and expense.
  • Some will allow locksmiths to service systems and provide duplicate keys – there usually is no time delay involved, because specialized electronic equipment must sometimes be used, it will still be more expensive than the consumer may expect.
  • Some systems do not require the use of specialized equipment, but may require that 2 or more original keys and the car be present to allow “programming” duplicate keys to the vehicle.

Because of the difficulty of explaining these systems, and the expense that can be involved, some dealers and /or salesmen are reluctant to discuss these systems. It is imperative that you know if your vehicle is equipped with an ignition security system, how it operates, and what is involved in obtaining duplicate keys. You may have to demand that you be given this information.

The benefit of these systems is that having duplicate keys, does require that they be programmed to the car, by some method. The likelihood of someone obtaining an unauthorized duplicate is very remote.

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