Transponder keys have become a component of every single car key for every single car on the market, without exception. The way a transponder key works is that it emits a radio signal at a specific, unique frequency that is picked up by your car’s software components. The car’s software needs to detect both the presence of the physical key and the presence of the transponder key programming to unlock the car – this prevents people from being able to steal your car by just copying your physical car key.
However, the fact that your car needs to detect the correct radio frequency from the transponder key before the engine will turn on also creates several issues. The most obvious of these is that, if you lose your car key or need additional car keys, you won’t be able just to get a copy made at a local locksmith. Instead, you will need to go to an approved dealer to get a new key with the correct transponder chip. Car companies restrict transponder cloning technology to dealerships for several reasons: not only does it prevent this technology from being stolen or used by unscrupulous locksmiths for criminal purposes, but it also allows dealers to charge exorbitant fees for creating cloned transponder keys.
The whole transponder key idea feels like a racket at times – for one thing, how often do people steal cars by copying the physical keys? If a thief can take your physical key for long enough to copy it, he would probably just use it to steal your car right then and there. Not only that but a thief who steals your actual, physical transponder key would still be able to steal your car with it just the same! The only way to get around this would be to implant the transponder in your body, but society hasn’t reached that point, at least not yet.
Not only that but the transponder keys themselves can break, which can prevent you from accessing your car and leave you stuck in a remote location. This happened to my poor old mother – her transponder key stopped working when she was two hours away from home on a trip, and her car simply wouldn’t start. Nothing wrong with her car at all – all that happened was that she had dropped the key in a puddle, and the transponder electronics had gotten fried! That could never have happened with an old-fashioned key.
So how do you get around the transponder key issue if you don’t want to pay through the nose for a new transponder key from a dealership? There are several ways. One of these is so simple that it is almost hard to believe – you just duct tape one of your actual car keys under the steering wheel of your car, and then get physical copies of the key made. The reason this works is that the transponder doesn’t need to be attached to the same key that you insert into the ignition – the transponder on your actual key will still work for that purpose as long as the transponder key is nearby. So you can just duct tape it there and forget about it – no more giving money to the dealership cartel for problems they created. It might even be a good idea to duct tape your spare key there as soon as you get a new car, so that you’ll never be without a valid transponder. Then, you can get as many key copies made as you feel you need, for a fraction of the cost of a dealership.