Key programming

If your car, van, SUV or pickup truck was manufactured after the mid-1990s then it will most probably have an engine immobiliser/immobilizer, which is operated by a key containing a transponder chip.

This innovation has made vehicles more secure for many years now - if the immobiliser/immobilizer doesn’t get the right signal from the transponder chip, it won’t unlock, which makes it more difficult for thieves to steal.

But transponder chips aren’t infallible and sometimes they stop working. While this is rare, if it happens to you it is incredibly frustrating - you have the key to the vehicle but can’t go anywhere in it.

To rectify the situation, the transponder chip will require programming - and your local auto locksmith can do this at a reasonable price.

What are transponder keys?

In simple terms, transponder - a portmanteau of ‘transmitter’ and ‘responder’ - keys have two main parts, a processor and a transponder microchip. When someone tries to start the car, the processor sends a radio frequency, which usually consists of 32 digits. If the car identifies with the sequence of digits, it will fire up - if not, it won’t.

There are three types of transponder systems currently used by car, SUV, pickup and van manufacturers. There is the fixed electronic code, where every key has its own permanent electronic code written onto it; the rolling electronic code, where every key is given its own unique electronic code that is changed each time the engine is started. Finally, there is cryptographic electronic code, where the transponder’s memory is protected by encrypted data, and internal algorithms interpret messages sent between the transponder and the ECU.

The transponder key shouldn’t be confused with the remote, which unlocks and locks the doors on your car, van, pickup or SUV.

Why transponder keys stop working

There are several reasons why transponder chips in your key stop working, meaning they will require programming or reprogramming. A common reason is that the transponder chip has been broken - modern keys are hard-wearing but they aren’t indestructible - and that could have stopped it working. It could also be that the battery has worn out - but in that case it is an easy fix.

Why an auto locksmith should be called

Transponder chips are not something that you can program yourself, so you should contact a professional to do it.

You can go to your local mainstream dealership, but they often charge a premium for services such as this and won’t always do it on the day either. However, auto locksmiths program transponder chips for a lot less than a dealer - although they do use the same equipment - and do it while you wait, and at a location of your choosing. An auto locksmith will come out to your home or place of work, but if you contracted a dealer to do this, you would have to bring the vehicle to them.

Auto locksmiths have vast experience of how to program transponder chips for any make and model of car, no matter how old it is, that is on the UK or US roads today. Auto locksmiths are regularly given training to keep up to date with the latest innovations in key technology and new models of vehicles that have come onto the market. They also carry on their vans all the tools they need to program transponder keys, plus a stock of blank keys, in case you need a new one.

How transponder keys are programmed

It is a relatively straightforward task to program a transponder key. The key technician will find the vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number and then, using the same specialist software that the manufacturers have, will program the required data onto the transponder.

If the automotive technician is programming a new transponder chip, perhaps because the previous one has been lost or stolen, then they can also tap into the vehicle’s ECU and reprogram the immobiliser/immobilizer so that the data from the old key won’t operate the vehicle, only the new key - this is especially important to ensure your car is fully secure.

Transponder key programming usually only takes a few minutes, although making a new one will take a little longer.

Cost of transponder key programming

Programming a transponder key is a relatively cheap job, given the work involved - although it depends on the marque and model of the car, SUV, pickup or van you drive, and whether a new key is needed - but it is always worth shopping around to find the best quote. Search the Auto Locksmiths site and get no-obligation quotes from skilled key technicians near you.

Spare transponder key

We would always recommend having a spare transponder key just in case the key you usually use breaks for any reason. Often the spare key that comes with the vehicle is not a transponder, but any auto locksmith should be able to produce a spare for you. Remember, they will come out to you wherever you are and program your key while you wait.

Why you should use the Auto Locksmiths website

There is a huge range of makes and models of cars, vans, trucks and SUVs being driven by people in the US and the UK, but whatever you drive, an experienced auto locksmith can program your transponder key.

Trouble is, there are so many auto locksmiths out there, and finding one that is trustworthy, won’t try to overcharge you and is close to where you live or work can be daunting, especially if it is an emergency situation.

At Auto Locksmiths, we appreciate how difficult it can seem and that’s why we are here - to take all the uncertainty out of finding lock and key technicians. Every locksmith that is listed on this site has been vetted, approved and verified by industry experts, so you can be certain you will be receiving a service from someone who is trustworthy and qualified in programming transponder keys, to get you back on the road as soon as possible.

Get no-obligation quotes from local auto locksmiths now!

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