These days almost all vehicles are keyless and work with a transponder key to unlock or lock your door or trunk or even start the engine.
Transponders are a computer chip that tell the vehicle’s computer that the right key is being used and to allow the vehicle to start and operate.
While it is rare for a transponder key to stop working, it does happen. Generally, one of these 2 issues is the problem.
If the power is too low, the transponder might be sending a lower frequency signal that your car does not recognize. Solution: Replace the battery by calling your dealer and finding out what battery to replace it with.
Even if you have only a damaged transponder key left, a good locksmith can take the damaged one get the original key code from their database and produce a new key. As long as the RFID chip has not been totally damaged, it can be removed from the old key and inserted into the new key and connected to a diagnostics port to program the new key.
If you transponder chip is totally damaged you will need to use your spare transponder key or buy a new one from your dealership and get the old one deactivated.
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It will probably cost you some serious money. If you are driving a 1999-2003 Toyota or Honda vehicle, if you lose your last spare key and have to have it replaced, you will likely have to replace the vehicle’s computerized immobilizer (anti-theft) unit as well. Transponders were first added to Toyota and due to frequent theft of higher end models. The transponder keys were assigned to a specific Immobilizer unit at the factory. If all keys are lost, the immobilizer unit will not accept a new set of programmed keys. Now, transponders are standard on the majority of their vehicles.
What’s the solution? Get a duplicate key made if you are down to your last spare key. If you have already lost all of your keys, then the immobilizer will have to be reprogrammed as well as getting a new key.
Some Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle owners have reported that when trying to use a replacement or duplicate transponder key, the car wouldn’t start and the immobilizer (anti-theft) light came on. What’s the solution? Check for damage to the PCM fuse relay in the car’s fuse panel. It may need to be replaced.
If your transponder key is damaged or lost, contact a local automotive locksmith before you go to the dealership, as the dealership will be the most expensive option for replacement.
Usually the dealership gives you a spare transponder key along with the original in case of emergency. You should also get another spare transponder key made in case you lose one. Why? Some duplicate transponder keys are not that expensive and if you keep 3 keys and you lose one, you can program another one.