They say you should never stop learning until you kick the bucket, and we have something that should entertain and enrich your mind. Smart keys, laser-cut keys, switchblade keys and transponder keys have been around for a while to the point where they are no longer a luxury, but just how much do you know about them?
In this article, we share some super fascinating things about them.
Smart keys aren’t keys in the typical “mechanical” sense. Instead, they’re fobs that are either inserted in the dash or, in more advanced units, they stay in your purse or pocket. The driver turns the vehicle on and off with the press of a button mounted on the dashboard (i.e. push-button start).
A smart key’s main security method is its ability to use rolling security codes. The car’s computer makes out the code given off by the smart key and verifies it before firing the engine up. Mercedes-Benz was one of the first automakers to use this technology, but just about every vehicle brand offers a smart key bundled in their high-tech packages. Toyota, for example, makes it available on many models.
You may tell a laser-cut key apart from a basic key because its shank is slightly thicker and has less grooves. Laser-cut keys are typically referred to as sidewinder keys as a result of the shank’s distinctive cut. The machines required to cut such keys are a lot more expensive than your usual key-cutting machine and are less likely to be found at all locksmiths or hardware stores.
Laser-cut keys usually come with transponder chips and require programming by the dealer or a locksmith, preferably one who’s a member of the (ALOA). All-in-one laser-cut keys are becoming increasingly popular, but as we said, these keys are pricier and typically need to be replaced at the dealer. Prices may range from $150-$250 including labor.
Switchblade key shanks fold into the fob when they are not in use, and then come out with the press of a button. They can have a basic cut or a laser cut. One advantage of the switchblade key is that its parts can be purchased individually. If for some reason your key is damaged and no longer works, you may buy the shank separately for about $60-$80. But the more likely scenario for most people is that the entire key is lost, in which case you’ll need both the shank and the fob into which it folds, increasing the cost to $200 and $300 after factoring in the programming of both components.
Around half-way through the 1990s, the world’s major car manufacturers began placing a transponder chip in plastic heads of keys. The chip gives off a signal to a receiver in the vehicle’s ignition. If that receiver detects that the wrong key is in the ignition, the car won’t start. We checked the price of a basic transponder key on a late-model Ford truck and the dealer quoted $160 for the key and an extra $75 for the fob.
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