A transponder key is designed with a chip capable of disarming a vehicle immobilizer whenever the key is used for starting the engine. Most cars manufactured after 1995 are made with transponder chips.
Transponder keys that come with vehicle remotes are different from remote keys. In simple terms, remotes are used for locking and unlocking the doors of vehicles. Depending on the design, some are built directly into the key, whereas others are separate and known as “fobs.” Remotes such as these are made to operate independently from a transponder security system.
Reason Transponder Key Programming Cost is High
One reason the cost of programming a transponder key can be relatively high is because this type of key has a tiny embedded microchip in the plastic head of the key. This chip receives a signal from the vehicle, usually coming from an antenna ring located near or around the ignition cylinder. Now, in order for the transponder key to work, the computer built into the vehicle has to receive a proper response. Otherwise, the computer will prevent the vehicle from operating.
Today, there are transponder systems that have challenge and password protection. These systems use a rolling code that is encrypted, which overall enhances security. The programmed number is what allows the key to work. For instance, once you put the transponder key into the ignition, within a millisecond a random number is transmitted. As long as the correct number is validated, the engine will start.
Another reason that transponder key programming costs can be high is that this type of key must have proper cuts in order to turn the cylinder, and it needs the right resistance. Otherwise, the engine will shut off. Without this, even a transponder key with the proper code will not work. Usually, this shutout period only last about four minutes, but it is extremely frustrating and inconvenient.
In order to program a transponder key, the services of an automotive locksmith generally are needed. This individual will possess the required skills and expertise and have special equipment required to complete the programming. The other option is programming this type of key using On-Board Programming, which is something you can do, but because it can be a little tricky, most people prefer to have a professional locksmith handle the job.
Different Types of Transponder Keys
As far as transponder key programming costs, keep in mind that not all keys of this type are the same. For instance, there is an encrypted and zero-bitted type of key. Costs can also vary based on the locksmith, since experience and equipment used differs. Although there is generally a higher cost to have these keys programmed compared to more conventional car keys, it is more cost-efficient to have a locksmith do the work than a dealership.
Again, there are numerous factors involved when it comes to the cost of programming a transponder key, but at a minimum, you can expect to pay $75, and maximum, around $200. Typically, a locksmith will charge a low service call fee and on top of that add the cost of labor, as well as any hardware needed for the job