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What are Transponder Chips?

Transponder keys provide you with an extra level of security to your car. They contain an electronic micro-chip which is built into the head of the key (which is why they’re sometimes also referred to as “chip keys”). Short for transmitter and responder, a transponders purpose is to prevent theft. Most cars made after 1996 will have car keys that contain transponder chips.


You probably use your car key a number of times each day, so it’s only natural that you might be wondering how an earth it works. Let us help…


Car Keys

The history of the Transponder Chip


Transponder car keys have been traced back to before the Berlin Wall, in Germany. The number of cars stolen rose from 30,000 in 1989 to a whopping 141,000 in 1992. The ultimate change came in 1993, when the Allianz Insurance Group made German car manufacturers adopt the transponder chip keys. By 1998, other countries had also adopted the new system.


How do Transponder Chips work?


When used, a transponder chip gives off a signal to your car's receiver. If the signal matches, the vehicle will start. If it doesn’t, then the car simply doesn’t start. If a vehicle requires a transponder key, it won’t work without it. Each transponder is unique and therefore only works for a specific car.


If a transponder car key isn’t programmed correctly, the car doors and boot may still open but the engine will not start without the correct programming.


Do I have a Transponder Key?


You can use the following ways to safely determine (without damaging the key) whether you have a transponder chip in your car key.


Auto Locksmith Database: A professional auto locksmith, like ourselves, will have access to a large database that holds vehicle key and transponder information.


Key Identification: Most car keys will have letters or numbers imprinted on them. An auto locksmith can use these letter/number combinations to identify whether your key has a transponder chip or not.


How long does Transponder Key Programming take?


Just a few minutes (and whilst you wait!). However, this does depend on whether you are duplicating a key. A Transponder car key can be programmed whether you have the original key or not.


We always say, prevention is better than cure. Which means, to always make sure that you have a spare car key to hand (or rather, somewhere safe). Rather than waiting until you’ve lost your car keys, to avoid being in a sticky situation, get a spare programmed now.


Here at County Auto Keys, we are able to come to you, wherever you might be in South Wales or Bristol, with the right equipment to get the job done whilst you wait.