What is a Transponder Key?

A transponder key is a car key with an inbuilt computer chip located in the head of the key. The chip is required to deactivate the engine immobiliser.

Car Immobiliser

A car immobiliser is an electric security device fitted to most new cars that prevents the engine from running unless the correct transponder key is presented. This prevents a car from being hot-wired.

Car Transponder

Transponder is short for transmitter and responder.

Today’s automotive transponder systems consist of :

  • the transponder key
  • the key reader (located around the ignition barrel)
  • the vehicle’s computer (Engine Control Unit – ECU) and
  • the immobiliser.

Once a programmed transponder key is inserted into the ignition cylinder and turned to the ‘on’ position the car reader sends out a burst of energy through radio frequency.

The transponder key will receive that signal and send back the identification code to the car’s reader. The car reader sends that ID code to the vehicle’s computer (ECU). If the ID code matches, the immobiliser will disable and the vehicle will start.

Does my Vehicle have a transponder chip?

Since 1995 most cars have an engine immobiliser which means almost all new vehicles come with a transponder key.

This has been mandated across the globe and rolled out since 1998.

A good indication of whether your vehicle has a transponder key is whether there is a black plastic head to the key. If there is no plastic head and your car was manufactured before 1998 there is a good chance that its not a transponder key.

If you are ever unsure you can contact the dealer or a trusted locksmith. We are always happy to help customers out in identifying transponder keys

Do I have to go to a dealer to get a transponder key?

Gone are the days when only the dealer was able to supply transponder keys. A trusted Automotive Locksmith will be able to assist you.

Going to an automotive locksmith will also guarantee you a saving.

Tas Mobile Locksmith can supply and program up to 95% of aftermarket transponder keys.

If an aftermarket transponder key isn’t available, Tas Mobile Locksmith can order a key directly from the dealer and carry out the reprogramming. You are still guaranteed a small saving.

How do I get a copy of my transponder key?

You can contact the dealer directly or a trusted locksmith.

Tas Mobile Locksmiths carries all the equipment needed to duplicate most transponder keys.

Coping a transponder key is taking the original key, and copying the data onto a new transponder key.

It will be an identical match to the original key allowing both keys to start the vehicle.

Whilst it sounds straight forward, different types of transponders have different methods of coping the data.

Getting a copy of your existing transponder key is both cost and time effective.

What happens if I loose all my transponder keys?

The process involved if you loose all your transponder key is far more complex to the copying process.

The automotive locksmith may need to unlock the vehicle, reset the security alarms and ascertain the keycodes using specialist diagnostic equipment.

In some cases the vehicles will need to be pulled apart so the lock technician can access the car’s computer. This process is extremely labour intensive and adds to the cost dramatically.

It is highly recommended to always have a spare key as it will save you hundreds of dollars.

What does a transponder key cost?

The cost of a transponder key varies on the make and model of the car, as well as whether you are looking for a plain key (no remote) or remote key. Further to this, the cost fluctuates dramatically if you don’t have a key to copy from, compared to when you do.

To supply, cut and program a plain transponder key will cost between $120-$260. This key will open and start the vehicle but doesn’t have remote key access.

To supply, cut and program a remote key will cost between $275-$600. This key will open and start the vehicle and will have the existing remote functions of the original key.

These prices are based on the owner having an existing copy of a transponder key.

If the vehicle has no keys at all the cost to supply, cut and program the first plain key will cost between $275-$1200. The second key can cost from $165-$265.

To supply, cut and program the first remote key will cost between $385-$1300. The second key can cost from $275-$600.

We highly recommend getting the second key, always ensuring you have a spare key to your vehicle will save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.

If you do end up finding the keys to your vehicle, your trusted locksmith will be able to program the transponder keys back in.

The cost of setting up the equipment, software and training for modern automotive work is considerable. As vehicle security is ever-changing, so is the equipment.

Tas Mobile Locksmith prides itself on changing with the times but this does come at a price. This is a reflection on why the overall cost for new transponder keys is so expensive.

ZipPay to pay for car transponders

We understand that these costs sometimes come as a surprise and therefore you may not be financially prepared. To assist our customers we recently partnered with ZIP pay. This allows our customers to purchase their new transponder keys interest-free for up to 6 months. We believe this will assist our clients in ensuring they always have that spare key.