Transponder Chip Keys – All You Need To Know. How To Program, How Much They Cost & More.

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Q: What are transponder keys?

A: Transponder chip car keys were introduced around 1996 in order to improve the car security system or anti-theft system.

The idea behind the transponder chip keys is very simple: The key had to be coded to the car, so if someone makes a copy, it may turn the ignition, but will not start the car.

In addition, most of the times these keys require a special machine and equipment that only automotive locksmith or dealer carry and therefore make it harder to steal.

Furthermore, some transponder car keys, such as Chrysler and Toyota, also require a pin code, which, once again, can only be obtained by a professional locksmith or the car dealership.

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Q: How does a locksmith program a transponder key?

A: The process of obtaining the pin code, the same as getting the key code, is by the VIN of the car. This information is only available to locksmiths after verification, usually done by sending the key code company the owner ID, insurance, etc.

Some car manufacturers, such as GM(Chevy, Buick, Cadillac) and Ford made it easy to program the transponder chip key yourself with a built-in security system that the owner can use.

However, this is only relevant for older models most of the times(up to 2010, depends on which make and model).

Newer keys, such as remote car keys, cant be coded without a special machine. In addition, also late years transponder keys can only be programmed with this machine.

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Q: Does my car have/need a transponder key?

A: Most cars built after the year of 1999, most chances they have a transponder system in them. Therefore, if you are not sure which key you had, and should it be coded or not, you can choose your make and model from the menu and get all the information you need.

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Q: How much does it cost to make a transponder key?

A: The price of a new transponder is usually not more than $30-$50. However, this doesn’t include cutting the key and coding it to your car. Therefore, the total price should be somewhere between $150-$350, depends on your make and model, location, time of day, etc.

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Q: Can a transponder key go bad?

A: Yes. transponder chip keys have a small electronic chip, usually at the top of the key. It is hidden under the cover. This electric chip, like any other electric component, after a while, may malfunction and therefore you would need to get a new key. The only indication that a transponder key is about to go bad, is if it sometimes does start the car and sometimes doesn’t. Therefore, if you are experiencing problems, you better get a new key asap.

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Q: How do I replace my transponder chip key?

A: Replacing a transponder key basically involves three stages:

  1. Getting the key blank
  2. Cutting the key blank so it will turn the ignition – Usually done by key code
  3. Coding the key to your car.
Therefore, you have three options:
  1. Order the key online and have a locksmith or dealer cut and program it for you.
  2. An automotive locksmith who offers mobile service – This is the most convenient option
  3. Towing the car to the dealer and have them cutting and programming the new key for you.

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Q: Can a locksmith make a transponder key?

A: Yes. An automotive locksmith can make transponder keys on site. The process involves two steps:

  1. Cutting the right key for the ignition
  2. Programming and coding the key to the car’s computer so the chip will function with the car.

Both steps are usually done on site, at your location. We can help you with that.

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Q: Does Walmart make transponder keys?

A: Walmart sells transponder certain transponder keys. What is very important to know is that you will still need to have an automotive locksmith or the dealer to cut and program it for you. Therefore, we recommend contacting a professional locksmith before buying any key from Walmart to make sure they can assist you with cutting and coding the key.

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Q: How do you program a transponder key?

A: For most transponder keys, you will need the help of an automotive locksmith or a dealer to program the key for you. Some older models, mostly GM and Ford, offer the option to program the key yourself. For more accurate information, and to check if you can program your key yourself without any special equipment, please choose your make and model, then choose the key that you need and read the relevant information.

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Q: Can a transponder key be reprogrammed?

A: Absolutely. All transponder keys can be reprogrammed to start the car. However, there a few important things to remember before you do that:

  1. Once you reprogram a transponder key, it basically means that you “erase” your car computer memory. This step must be done before you can actually program any key. Therefore, all other keys you had, or that used to start the car, will no longer work and you will need to recode them as well.
  2. Most chances that you will need to use a special coding machine, which only the dealer or the locksmith has.
  3. Before you can reprogram a key to your car, obviously you will have to cut it to make sure it fits the ignition cylinder.

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Q: Why is my key not starting my car?

A: There may be a few reasons why your key won’t start the car. The most common is that it is a transponder key that needs to be coded to start the car. In the picture above, we can see two keys, that may turn an ignition cylinder. However, only the coded transponder will start the car. For more information click here

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Q: Can a bad key cause a car not to start?

A: Yes. The most important feature of transponder keys is that they need to be programmed to a specific car to start it. Therefore, in a case when someone tries to start a car with a programmed key, after a few unsuccessful attempts, the car’s computer may “shut down”. The reason is, of course, security and prevent unauthorized people to start a car without the right key.

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Q: How much does it cost to program a key to a car?

A: The programming process alone of a key to a car usually costs between $40-$80. You can either have the dealer or a locksmith do it for you. In addition, keep in mind that this doesn’t include the price of cutting the key and/or the key itself.

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