Optimal Locksmith Pro: Common Transponder Key Problems

Since 1995, vehicles are required by law to have an immobilizer system. Part of this includes a computerized security mechanism which can only be activated using a transponder key.

Emergency Locksmith

A combination between the words transmitter and responder, a transponder key relies on a small microchip embedded in its plastic head. Don’t confuse these with automotive remotes, though: the keys have many more functions. Auto remotes, by definition, only serve to open and close the door, whereas your transponder chip is supposed to operate the entire vehicle. As a matter of fact, many transponder key models are actually fitted with auto remotes themselves.

While we’re on the subject of keys, it’s also important to remember that not all keys are transponder. Flat metal keys operate solely through the mechanical cuts, and are recommended alongside your transponder as well (it’s always a good idea to have a spare key for your vehicle in case your primary one malfunctions).

But how do transponder or chip keys work? Basically, the chip fitted into the head of the key emits a special radio frequency that matches a pre-programmed ignition code. The door will only open, and the car will only power on, if it receives the right signal from the key – meaning that it is very difficult to break into a car with this type of mechanism in place.

Needless to say, these types of keys offer an invaluable amount of security. With that said, there is always the off chance you may face an occasional glitch. So here are a few problems to look out for, and what to do in each situation.

  • You have a dead or dying battery

This is by far the most common transponder key problem around. Not all transponder keys are operated by microchips and batteries – but if yours is, read on.

Initially, identifying if your issues are the results of a flat battery can be tricky. If you need to press a button multiple times to get the door to work, you could be dealing with either a dying battery or a programming glitch. The best way to figure out which is the most likely culprit is to use an alternative key – if that works, the problem is definitely with the battery.

  • If you’ve lost your transponder key

As much as we try to take care of our valuables, there’s always a chance that things will get lost. Especially when it comes to small components like keys, which can easily fall out of your pocket, or even get misplaced while you were going about your day. Remember what we said earlier about having a spare key on your person? That tends to help in this scenario. A locksmith will have all the specialist equipment to duplicate it for you, so you won’t need to fork out an extensive amount of cash getting one from your dealership. If you don’t have an extra copy and you need to replace your transponder key, a locksmith can do that as well.

What you’ll need in this case is your car’s chassis number, which should be listed in your car’s registration documents, and the transponder chip code which would have been given to you upon purchase. If you don’t have the latter, the automotive locksmith you have hired will need to reprogram either the vehicle’s transponder system or just the ECU unit (in some cases, only the latter is required).

  • Your key is no longer transmitting the right signal

Like we said, a car with a transponder system won’t work unless it receives the right transmission. So for this scenario, you will need to reprogram your key to match the car’s code (in some cases you may need to reprogram the car’s system itself, like in the point above). If you can still access your car, quickly rev your engine on and off eight times in less than ten seconds – this should prompt the car to reprogram the key for you. No luck? You’ll need to get the pros to reprogram it for you.

  • The chip has been damaged

If replacing the battery and reprogramming the transponder show no improvements, you are likely dealing with a damaged chip. In this situation, you may actually need to buy a new transponder key. While locksmiths tend to be the cheaper alternative, this is one of those situations where you should consider going to the dealership itself – that way, you will be able to deactivate the old key so that nobody can access your car. This is a matter of preference, though: a locksmith will help you in this area too.

How can a locksmith help with my transponder key problems?

We’ve already touched on many of the services you can get from a qualified auto locksmith professional. Not only will they provide you with affordable solutions, but they can also help you 24/7 during emergencies. Just to be on the safe side, it’s always best to keep a few locksmith business names handy before you need to call them for an automotive emergency – be it with a transponder key or with any other part of your car’s security.

You should always hire a locksmith that is locally-based, and who has an address you can physically verify. It’s always recommended that you consult with an expert in person: this is a service most professionals offer to their customers free of charge. Things you should always double check include:

  • License and insurance information
  • Client references in the area
  • Full cost breakdown of the services you are looking for
  • A price quote for after-hours services (most locksmiths tend to charge extra for these)

Take the time to shop around and don’t hire a Fort Lauderdale locksmith who pressures you into making a hasty decision.

Optimal Locksmith Pro is always here to help car owners in Fort Lauderdale, FL. We specialize in all things transponder as well as offering an array of automotive services. Our licensed and insured professionals are more than happy to consult with you about your issues, and will gladly answer all questions you may have prior to taking our services on board.

Now you know a bit more about your transponder keys, you will be able to make a wise decision when it comes to resolving some of the most common issues.

What to Try If the Key Is Stuck In Your Car’s Ignition

Automotive Keys

When it comes to automotive security, you can usually trust the locks, keys and security features that came with your vehicle to be reliable and durable. These have been especially designed to provide its users with the best possible protection, but nothing is ever immune to damage. Even simple lock and key issues may cause a bit of trouble, and that is why automotive locksmiths such as Optimal Locksmith Pro are here to provide you with trusted help with all security-related matters.

A common issue automotive locksmiths in Fort Lauderdale, FL, attend to is assisting car owners with keys stuck in the ignition. It is something that can happen to anyone, at any given time, and some car owners may feel at loss of what to do when they encounter themselves in this predicament.

Even if you have never been in this situation, you could can probably imagine the frustration felt by those who have. Simply put, a key stuck in the ignition will make your vehicle inoperable. If your key gets stuck when the car is turned on, you won’t be able to turn it off or drive away; if it happens when the car is turned off, you may be stranded until the issue has been resolved. In either stuck key situation, locally-based locksmiths will be able to get to you, and help you out, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We hope to ease the stress you may experience by providing you with all the information that you need to know about handling a key that is stuck in the ignition. Consider this your step-by-step guide to getting through this frustrating problem, no matter when you find yourself in this situation. Knowing in advance what to do, and what to expect, will prepare you in case you ever find yourself in a car with a jammed key.

So, let’s take a look at what you should do in this sticky situation.

Before you contact a locksmith, see if you can solve the issue yourself. Sometimes a stuck key can be released through some basic troubleshooting, other times key extractions and ignition cylinder replacements may be called for.

Emergency Locksmith

Here are some of the different steps to take prior to requesting automotive lock and key assistance.

Basic checks

There are situations where your key may get stuck while the car is turned on, or with the car turned off. So here is what to do in each individual situation:

If your car is turned on, you should:

  • Check the gears. If the car is in drive instead of park, it will not let you remove the key or turn the vehicle off.
  • Check the dashboard to see if it matches your gear lever’s transmission. Shift it back and forth to the correct one if needed, and see if you can extract they key then.
  • After these checks, try to bring the car back to park to see if the issue persists.

If your car is turned off, you should:

  • Check the key position. Aged cylinders can mean that your key becomes stuck.
  • Move the steering wheel back and forth while gently trying to remove key from lock position.
  • Check for a dead battery. A sure sign you may have a dead battery is that the dashboard has lit up. Dead batteries will lock the keys into the ignition as the car won’t be able to correctly identify the chip being inserted.
  • If you have some lube, try loosening the key with it and see if you can remove it then.

If none of these troubleshooting tips have helped, then it is definitely time to contact a locksmith.

While waiting for assistance

So you contacted a Fort Lauderdale, FL, professional and told them the issues you are faced with. You can expect the assistance from a locally-based automotive locksmith to be quick and easily accessible. They will always try to get to customers as soon they possibly can, but while you are waiting we recommend that you do the following:

  • Make sure key is kept in lock position to avoid battery drainage
  • Use a spare key to manually lock the vehicle if required

Hiring a licensed and insured locksmith is always the best resort for lock and key issues, as it will save you time and money. Especially when it comes to handling keys stuck in the ignition, automotive locksmiths will promptly tend to all issues and will save you the hassle of getting your car towed into an expensive mechanical garage.

What to expect from your automotive locksmith

When the locksmith arrives, they will fully inspect the issue at hand. An automotive locksmith will go through all the common troubleshooting techniques, paying attention to batteries, dashboards, or any signs of damage. This will enable them to provide you with a full diagnosis of the problem.

Sometimes all they will have to do is extract your key for you. Other times, they may need to replace a worn out or damaged ignition cylinder, or provide a fix for a faulty component. Regardless, a reliable locksmith service provider in Fort Lauderdale, FL, will have all the tools and components on hand to readily perform any required fixes.

Before they begin the repairs though, you can request them to explain exactly what they will do and a full price quote to go along with their services. Reputable locksmith businesses will provide consultations and price quotes at no cost to their customers.

Remember, locksmiths are on-call to handle urgent matters 24/7, so you should be able to get assistance from them any time of the day. In order to be fully prepared for anything that comes your way, keep the contact details of your trusted locksmith service provider in an easy to access place so that you can get help the moment you experience an issue.