How to Copy a Key With a Chip in it

by Susanne Koenig

Over the years, automakers have tried many different ways to prevent auto theft. In the past, hotwiring made keys useless by bypassing the ignition and setting it off manually through the ignition wires in the steering column. A great advance in addressing this problem was the "transponder" or "coded" key, which emits an electronic signature that gives the ignition permission to start. So it's not only a key, it's a password of sorts, with each coded key having its own particular signature. For that reason, you cannot copy them like regular keys. You must program them for your car's particular frequency.

Call around to see who has the best price on your key. Dealerships often charge more than automotive locksmiths. Another option is to purchase a key online. An online key will not arrive programmed, however, and you will still need a locksmith or the dealership to program it correctly. Before you buy a key online, call around to see if the dealership or locksmith will program a key that comes from another stock than its own. For security and proprietary reasons, most will say no.

Call to order your key if you are not purchasing it online and need the copy immediately. Ask the dealership or locksmith how long it will take to have the key ready. It usually takes about four hours because the dealership or locksmith must locate the key in its inventory, then code and cut it.

Test the copy in your vehicle to ensure it starts your ignition. If it doesn't work, ask your provider to ensure the key is programmed correctly and if it has new batteries installed. All transponder keys and keyless entry fobs use a standard watch battery that dealerships sell for a minimal charge.

Tip

  • check Some cars will allow you to program a copy of a transponder key (purchased online). Consult your owner's manual, because most cars allow up to four copies of a key to be made using the ignition and specialized instructions.

Warnings

  • close Ensure that a locksmith is an authorized vendor for your type of car. Car companies franchise the right to code and copy their keys.
  • close Look for a locksmith who is associated with a professional organization to avoid being scammed. Many companies who advertise in the phone directory are not state certified or licensed locksmiths. The Association of American Locksmiths has a search engine on its website to find certified and trained locksmiths in your area.

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera key image by vashistha pathak from Fotolia.com