How to Clone a Transponder Key

by Susanne Koenig
key image by Yuri Tuchkov from

Transponder keys are automotive keys specifically designed to deter theft. Each transponder key has a chip in the plastic cap that emits a unique electronic signal to a receiver in the car's ignition. If the signal isn't clear or is from the wrong key, the car will not turn over. Transponder keys are programmed by the manufacturer of the car for one specific vehicle. This is why special professional-grade equipment is required to clone a transponder key. It must be able to program the key electronically with the correct signal. You can copy a transponder key, however, with the aid of a professional.

Step 1

Call your dealership if you need a copy of your key and ask for a price quote. Then call an automotive locksmith and ask her for a quote.

Step 2

Order a key from the provider with the price that best fits your budget. An automotive locksmith will often charge less and deliver the key to you directly if need be.

Test the new cloned transponder key in your car. If it was programmed incorrectly, it will not start and you will need to have the vendor re-program it with the right frequency for your car.


  • Some keys can be programmed using your ignition. Check your owner's manual just in case. You will still need a professional to cut your key for you.


  • Be sure the locksmith use has a good reputation, either by seeing if she belongs to the Better Business Bureau or via a recommendation from your mechanic. You also can find a locksmith through professional associations. Make sure the locksmith is certified and licensed to work in your state.
  • Many transponder keys can be purchased online. Just make sure either the dealer or the locksmith of your choice will program a key purchased through an online vendor. Most will not for proprietary and security reasons, especially those who work in large urban areas.

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