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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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