There was a time when to open and start a vehicle required a relatively simple car key. The only security feature was the profile on the key blade. However, car thieves got better at their craft and Detroit responded with more sophisticated keys, in particular, electronic keys. Today we have many different types of car keys to contend with and a many people get confused when trying to understand the technologies involved. Hopefully, this article will help you sort it all out.
Old Style Metal Keys
The old style keys were simple. Each key had a unique profile on it that was used to open up and start a car. Need a new key? Simply go to a hardware store and get a new one made for a few bucks. Life was simple then.
Around the mid-1990s, the major car manufacturers began placing a radio transponder chip in the plastic head of the key. The chip emits a signal to a receiver in the car’s ignition. If the receiver detects the wrong signal — meaning that the wrong key is in the ignition — the vehicle will not start.
You can tell a laser-cut key apart from a basic key because the shank is slightly thicker and has fewer grooves. Laser-cut keys are often referred to as “sidewinder keys”, due to the distinctive winding cut on the blade. The machines needed to cut these keys are more expensive than a standard key-cutting machine and are not as likely to be found at every locksmith or hardware store.
Smart keys aren’t keys in the traditional mechanical sense. They are fobs with transponder chips that are either inserted in the dash or, in the more advanced systems, they just stay in your pocket or purse. As the sales team at Hoover the Mover of South Carolina explained to us the driver simply turns the car on and off with the press of a dashboard mounted button when a smart key is sensed on the person. Real simple for the customer to use and secure too; a smart key’s uses rolling security codes to prevent theft.
By the way, Prepare Now!
Modern keys are expensive, some are very expensive. As the saying goes, “the best defense is a good offense” so get a spare set now. If you do it now, on your terms, you may save yourself a great deal of stress.