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Transponder Keys - Problems

Wait! How can something as useful and convenient as a transponder key have problems? As impossible as it is to believe, it is true; they sometimes do have issues. We know – our Turner Locksmith techs are often called upon to fix them. Surprisingly, there are a few things you can do on your end to make the situation better and you might even avoid a service call!

What is a transponder key?

Everyone knows them by sight and by use, but few know what they really are! Transponder keys are car keys with a computer chip embedded in the rounded head of the key. The blade or inserted part looks pretty much the same as a “regular” car key. The word transponder means to “transmit” and this is what this specialized key does; it transmits a signal to your car’s computer. If the signal is recognized, your car engine starts. If the signal is not recognized, it won’t. This method of cutting down on car theft is so successful, it has been in constant use since the mid 1990’s and transponder keys are not going away any time soon.

Hard to copy and expensive to do so!

This is actually one of the good things about transponder keys. You just can’t borrow one and go make a copy at your local gas station or home improvement store. The computer chip in the head needs to be programmed and only select car dealers and locksmith shops are authorized to do so. The process is expensive, time consuming, and the car needs to be present, as well. Easy to copy car keys in the past made auto theft faster and easier. This is all good until you lose or break your transponder key – then, what do you do?

Broken transponder keys

It’s easy to assume that your transponder key is indestructible; after all, it’s made of metal and looks so durable! But be honest with yourself; how many times have you used that key to rip open a cardboard box or something similar? How many times have you tossed your keys to someone else or onto a table or dropped them on the floor? Have you ever used your key to puncture a hard surface or to pry open a bottle or anything with a lid? We all do it at some point. Keys are handy, sized just right and have a sharp end; perfect for use as a multi-purpose tool! Sometimes this rough handling can break your key or cause it to lose its chip.

Missing transponder chip

It’s a little known fact but if dropped, transponder chips can actually fall out and become lost. Since people often don’t know about this possibility, the chip is not looked for. The dropped key is picked up and while it will still work as a door or trunk key, it won’t be able to start your car anymore.

Broken off keys

Sometimes transponder keys break off in the lock itself. This lock may be your door, trunk or ignition lock, and while this breakage is never deliberate, it still requires getting a new key made and programmed, and sometimes having the broken off part, extracted. This is actually easy to do. Our technicians have seen this numerous times in Wheat Ridge, CO but it actually can happen anywhere in the country. If the steering wheel is leaned upon with a little too much pressure, it can lock in place and during this phase, the ignition key is often not released. In an effort to free the transponder key, it can break off. All that was really needed was a firm twist to the steering wheel to release the key and to drive the car but often, this is not known.

Wrong key insertion

It is not unusual to have multiple drivers in one household (with numerous cars). When this happens it is easy to simply grab the wrong transponder key and try and drive your car with it. Sometimes, the key will be difficult to insert in the ignition and it will be obvious that they wrong key was used. Other times, the key WILL go in, but will not come back out. Often, the key must be extracted professionally or it simply breaks off when too much pressure to release it is applied.

Some solutions

Most of our solutions are free to implement and just involve being more careful and paying more attention to your actions. Let’s start with stuck keys. As mentioned earlier, if your steering wheel locks up, just apply some steady pressure on it and move it back and forth to unlock it. This will allow you to not only remove your transponder key, but to unlock the steering wheel and drive your car; no need for a locksmith or roadside service from AAA!

Dropped keys

If you happen to drop your keys, pay close attention for any missing computer chip. It costs far less to have an automotive locksmith insert it back into your key than to have a whole new one copied and programmed. What’s even more expensive is if you had your auto dealer duplicate or program your new key. Their process is expensive, inconvenient and time consuming. You may even have to have your car towed in to them! Car dealers know that they have almost exclusive ability and rights to do this work and they charge accordingly. If you do wind up needing any kind of transponder key service or replacement, use a local automotive locksmith and save yourself time and cash. No towing and no big financial outlay are needed! In fact, you will save so much money by using a lock professional; you can have a spare transponder key made for safekeeping! For best results keep this key in a safe place where you can access it if needed. A trusted family member, friend or neighbor can also save it for you in the event that you lose yours or get locked out. Also, keep the phone number to a 24-hour automotive locksmith in your smart phone, just in case of need!

Turner Locksmith

24 Hour Emergency Locksmith Service
Dispatch Address: 6289 W 38th Ave, Suite 324, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
Phone: (720) 864-0777