What is a Chip Key?

The formal term is really "Transponder Key." In 1995, the first transponder keys (bottom left) appeared in the U.S and they are referred to as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device). These are NOT the same as GM VATS/PASS keys (top left) which contain a visible pellet and were introduced on the Chevy Corvette in 1985. 

When you turn your key in the ignition, a digital code is transmitted from the key to an antenna around the lock. This digital code may have several billion or trillion possibilities. If you try to start a car using a key without the correct code, the car electronically shuts down. Thieves can no longer force and break to steal the vehicle. This greater security also has a price. So expect to pay more for a transponder key.

How are Transponder keys Programmed?

Some Transponder Keys may be programmed with simple on-board steps, or by using a programming device to clone the digital code to a replacement key. Most other models require connecting special diagnostic equipment to the car’s computer. In some cases, a vehicle specific PIN code is required for the process.

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