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Posts Tagged ‘Car Keys’

Types of Car Keys

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Auto Locksmith

There’s many varieties of automotive keys, including transponder keys, VATS keys, and smart keys. These car keys are furnished through one of two common automotive key cutting techniques. In this brief blog post, the experts at Top Locksmith will detail the differences between these key cutting techniques, as well as the variety of keys commonly available in the automotive market today.


Mechanical (Traditional-cut) Car Keys

These popular car key types are cut inside a key cutting machine like the ones used for regular home or office lock keys. Up until the late 20th century, this was the only way to cut car keys, but since then it’s less commonly used.


Laser Cut Keys

These keys, known as sidewinder or internal cut keys, are the more advanced of the two automotive key types. They have the advantages of pick and duplication resistance lock cylinders, and are more commonly being used by automotive manufacturers today.


Common Types of Automotive Keys

  • Transponder Keys – These car keys contain a computer microchip in it’s handle that enforces ignition security and prevents key fraud. Transponder keys can be mechanically or laser cut depending on what the make and model of the vehicle is.

  • Smart Keys – These car keys use computer microchips as well as sensors to open cars without the use of a traditional key. All that’s necessary is to have the keys on your person and your car will automatically unlock and start as you approach it closely.

  • VATS (Vehicle Anti-Theft System) Keys – These mechanical keys contain a black resistor on the blade with one of 15 possible values that offer special security and prevention of key fraud. While these keys are often considered to be electronic keys, and the resistors confused for microchips, the keys are in fact devoid of computer technology.

  • Valet Keys

  • These car keys have been modified to allow their owners to operate door locks and car ignitions, but not open locked glove boxes or trunks, and they are often issued with normal smart or transponder keys. From their name, one can tell they are particularly useful in hotel and restaurant valet contexts.

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Programming Car Keys

carkeys programming in DC

When it comes to home security, it never hurts to be prepared. One of the smartest things that you can do is to constantly maintain the possession of a spare key for your vehicle – a tactic that’s not often thought of as an essential precaution.

Transponder Chips

It’s not quite as simple as walking into your local Maryland or Washington D.C. hardware store to get an instant key copy, since almost all cars today are built with transponder keys. These transponders are made up of a small electronic chip which provides a signal to the computer system inside the car, allowing the engine to be turned on. The majority of hardware stores are unable to make duplicates of car keys, since the programming of transponders requires specific professional technology that isn’t readily available to casual consumers. This is why it’s important to have the contact information for a trustworthy and professional local automotive locksmith, like Top Locksmiths.


Duplicating Car Keys

Car key duplicates furnished at hardware stores might be able to open up the doors of your car, but most likely will not be able to start your vehicle’s engine. The only way that the copied key will be able to work in sync with your vehicle’s on board computer is if it gets programmed by a professional locksmith. The professional automotive locksmiths at Top are fully equipped with the necessary technology and computer equipment to match programmable car keys to their respective vehicles. While this is a common procedure, if one seeks it out from someone else besides a professional automotive locksmith, it can be quite expensive for the consumer – since the programming computer program is costly, and there’s also a price attached to the code which is provided by the vehicle’s manufacturer. Trustworthy local locksmiths can provide this service at a fraction of the price that one would get charged at a local automobile dealership.


Depending on the type of key that you’re copying (luxury car keys are usually priced at somewhat higher of a level) you may pay anywhere from 50 to 160 dollars. This is the general price for key copying; so if you’ve lost all versions of the keys you need, a locksmith will be able to make you a copy from scratch – but it may come at slightly higher of a price tag. The best way to avoid this expense is to make copies of your existing keys before you lose them, so that you always have a spare on hand in case you ever misplace or lose one.

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