transponder car key

What is a Transponder Car Key Plus Cost to Get a Replacement?

Transponder car keys are specifically designed to prevent the use of duplicate keys to start your car. These keys have codes that must be recognized by your car system before it’ll be allowed to start. If your car doesn’t recognize the code, it won’t start.

As you may have guessed, this invention has greatly reduced car theft since it was introduced in 1985. That’s why recent car models now come with transponder keys. Thanks to this anti-theft technology, hot-wiring cars are now a thing of the past.

Advisably, if you don’t have a transponder key, you should get one now. All you need to do is check if your car model is transponder-equipped. If it is, you can move on to know the cost of getting a transponder key for your car.

If you do use a transponder car key, it’s important to get a spare. If you’re doing that, you’ll need all the information you can get about the associated cost. In light of that, this article will explain more about transponder car keys and how much it’ll likely cost to get a set for your car.

Transponder Car Keys Explained

The concept of transponder car keys came into existence to reduce car theft. Formerly, cars were stolen using duplicate keys and hot-wiring techniques. But the programming on transponder keys makes it difficult for thieves to start your car.

A transponder key is also known as a “chip key”. They have signal-encoding circuits on the inbuilt chip. Chip keys successfully protect cars from theft in two ways.

Firstly, no matter how hard you try, if the coded signal isn’t correct, the car won’t start. Secondly, the keys are quite difficult to duplicate because they have to be programmed. This has resultantly reduced the issue of car theft drastically.

Origin of Transponder Car Keys

The history of transponders can be traced to the Second World War. The technology was first used to recognize friendly planes on the radar and communicate with their pilots. That’s where automobile manufacturers adopted this technique.

Related Article: Simple Tips on How to Find Lost Car Keys

Transponder Car Key Operation Pattern: How It Works

The cost of getting a replacement or spare transponder is a function of the complex operation of these keys. A transponder system comprises two primary components.

It includes a processor and a microchip (transponder) located in the head of your car key. The key has to be inserted and turned in the ignition cylinder for the car’s computer to identify it.

Your car’s computer then transmits a radio signal to the transponder circuit. The circuit is powered by a radio signal, so it doesn’t need any battery. Typically, the circuit works with a computer chip program to respond by sending a coded signal.

This coded signal is then sent back to your car’s computer. If the circuit fails to respond or if the code is incorrect, the engine won’t start.

If the wrong key is used, recent cars won’t move due to an automatic immobilizer feature. This level of security is why transponder keys are used in modern cars.

What is an Immobilizer?

An immobilizer also plays a significant role in enabling transponders to carry out their job. It’s a theft-deterrent system that stops your car from starting if the code doesn’t match.

Immobilizers only allow your car to start when the code it receives matches the key. Every transponder-equipped vehicle has an immobilizer.

Cost of Getting or Replacing a Transponder Car Key

The average cost of replacing transponder keys in Canada ranges from $150 to about $500. Bear in mind the complexity of the key design will determine whether you’ll end up paying more for a new transponder car key.

All cars manufactured in Canada since September 2007 come with anti-theft systems. Consequently, every car manufactured since then works with transponder keys. Typically, the original cost of getting the keys is included in the purchase price of the vehicle.

Unfortunately, we sometimes misplace everyday items and car keys aren’t left out. Also, as a result of wear and tear, car keys can spoil too. This gives rise to the need for replacement.

How much to replace my transponder car key?

The exact cost you’ll end up paying to replace a transponder car key is a function of factors such as:

These factors make it somewhat impossible to have a fixed price for getting a transponder car key. Also, different geographical locations have different price-fixing determinants. For example, expecting the same price for car key replacement all over Ontario is impossible.

Don’t be scammed! Run from prices that are too good to be true. A $10- $15 price range to replace a transponder car key is ridiculous. Don’t waste your money and time.

Basic Car Key vs Transponder Car Key

There is a difference between a basic car key and a transponder key. Transponder car keys have chips and are programmed to start the car securely. While a basic car key is just “basic”. It doesn’t have a chip and it isn’t programmed.

It’s cheaper to have a locksmith fix a basic car key for you because of its simplicity. All a locksmith has to really do is carve a key to fit your car ignition. However, this key will not have the ability to start a transponder-equipped vehicle. Although, it’ll be able to unlock the doors of some car models.

On the other hand, transponder car keys are more expensive to replace. This is due to the programming and chip on it. It has to be fixed carefully and correctly. If not, it won’t be able to start the car. The fob is an additional expense to consider. Electronic fobs can cost as much as $50- $90.


Does my Car Use a Transponder Key?

If you’ve locked your keys in the car or lost them, you need a replacement. The next step is to know if your car uses a transponder key or not.

Providing the locksmith with this information will enable them to assist you better. Here’s how to tell if your vehicle can use a transponder car key.

Refer to Your Car Owner’s Manual

Once you get your car manual, head to the ignition section. There, you’ll find information on “transponder system activation”. Once this is spotted, it’s most likely your car is transponder enabled.

Another way to tell if your car uses a transponder key is through the year of manufacture. If the manufacture date is after 2007, chances are you have a transponder car key.

Ask a Locksmith

Professional and experienced locksmiths have databases with vehicle keys and transponder information. Most locksmiths already have the answer to your question.

Security Light

Every car that comes with a security light most likely has a transponder key. The security light can either be in the form of a key, lock or letters. It may be a tiny light on your dashboard or the center console.

Once you turn on your vehicle, the security light comes on and blinks. The light goes off if the right transponder key is used. Otherwise, the security light will keep blinking or flashing.

Identifying your Key

Most car keys these days have codes imprinted on them. These codes can either be numbers or letters. Sometimes they can be alphanumeric. Regardless of the format, they’re unique identification codes.

If your key has a unique identification code, it’s a transponder key. It’s an easy way to know if your vehicle is transponder-equipped.

Also, transponder car keys have a bigger plastic head and are mostly bigger than a mechanical key. These are little signs you can look out for on your own.

Can a Non-Transponder Key Start a Transponder- Equipped Car?

Starting your car with a non-transponder car key will typically throw a theft code into the computer. The theft code can only be cleared using dealer equipment. There’s a fee to be paid for this service.

To avoid this expense, disconnect your battery before testing your mechanical key in the ignition. Once you’re done, insert your transponder car key in the ignition but don’t start it. Do this before reconnecting the battery.

By so doing, once the car system boots, it will recognize your transponder key immediately. This will stop it from triggering the theft code.

Related Article: What to do If You Lock Your Keys in the Car?


Depending on the complexity of your car’s transponder key system, the cost of getting replacement transponder keys can be as high as $500. However, it’s an expense that’s well worth it.

It can’t be compared to the amount you’ll spend trying to get back your car if it’s stolen. The importance of transponder car keys to the safety of your car can’t be overemphasized.

Also, losing your keys is a situation that can happen to anyone. You don’t necessarily have to go into panic mode.

Car Key Replacement CA has got you covered. Our car key replacement experts have access to the equipment necessary to create new transponder car keys for your vehicle.

What’s more, we offer speedy same-day car key replacement services. Get in touch with us today!

car key replacement

Can I Replace Lost Car Keys Without the Original?

Replacing a lost car key without the original will require a high level of expertise. Hence, the reason for the high cost of car key replacement.

In theft cases, we advise you to inform your auto locksmith immediately. Your auto locksmith will reprogram your car key identification number to your new keys. This way, your car won’t operate with the former keys.

But, in cases where you lose the keys, there may not be a need to pay the cost of reprogramming. But, there’ll be a need to replace your lost car key without the original.

In this article, we’ll explore how to replace your lost car key without the original. Please read carefully.

How to Replace a Lost Car Key Without the Original

Replacing lost car keys without the original is a different kettle of fish. Normally, when replacing lost car keys, auto locksmiths consider the availability of the original keys.

But, in rare cases where the original car keys are lost, they have to consider other factors before replacement. If you have to deal with this situation, here’s what you have to know:

Be ready to verify car ownership

An auto locksmith will require you to provide the following before proceeding with the car key replacement.

  • Vehicle identification number(VIN): The VIN is like your fingerprint, it’s unique to your car. You can find the VIN on the dashboard at the driver’s side or on the engine bay. For some car models, you can find the VIN in the user’s manual.
  • Key Identification Number: Providing information about the key identification number during car key replacement is usually optional. In cases of theft, the key identification numbers help your auto locksmith reprogram your car. This way, old car keys will not work with the car. You can find the key identification number on the car’s manual.
  • Personal identification: To show ownership of the car, your auto locksmith will demand to see your name, photo, address and a means of identification.

Your car model and type of key

Cars come in different models. And, as you may well have guessed, different models come with different types of car keys. A more sophisticated car will mean a more sophisticated car key.

When replacing lost car keys without the original, an auto locksmith will consider the type of car key. There are generally two types of car keys:

Remote car keys

Remote car keys are the most common. Before now, cars used non-remote keys, so it was easy to change car keys and steal cars. However, this is not the case for cars with remote keys. Cars with remote keys function differently.

This type of car key has a chip that emits signals designed to be recognized by the engine’s ignition system. Failure to recognize these signals will lead to the car not starting. Remote car keys do not only control the car’s ignition system, but they also control the car’s security alarm system.

Because of the functionality of remote car keys, car manufacturers program them to the vehicle. What this means is that each remote car key is unique to each car. Typically, replacing lost remote car keys without the original will require a high level of technicality.

Common examples of remote car keys are:

  • Basic keys: They are the basic remote keys programmed with your car. Basic car keys are not difficult to replace even without the original car keys.
  • Keyless fobs: These are basic keys with fobs in them. They do not contain keys but instead emit signals that control the car. They can be difficult to change without the original key.
  • Switchblades: Switchblades have keys folded into a handle. When you press a button, the key pops out. Unlike other car keys, switchblades have replaceable parts. Hence, it is easier to replace them.

Non-Remote car keys ( Transponder Car keys).

On the other hand, non-remote car keys do not require any signal recognition. Hence, there’s no need to program them to your car. For this reason, it is easy to replace lost non-remote car keys without the original.

car key replacement without original

Choose a replacement option

There are several replacement options to consider when replacing lost car keys without the original. Some are more affordable and will deliver a replacement key speedily. Here is a  list of cost-effective methods of replacing your car without the original.

  • Auto locksmiths: Employing the services of an auto locksmith is the most effective method of car key replacement. An auto locksmith replaces car keys, the ignition system and whole locks. Auto locksmiths are more trained to use different methods for different locks. For this reason, they have different equipment for all car key types and models.

Not only do auto locksmith replace locks, but they also:

  • Copy and cut car keys
  • Change and repair damaged locks
  • Program remote keys
  • Repair broken keys
  • Roadside assistance services: Roadside assistance services are quick and cost-effective. However, unlike auto locksmiths, roadside assistance locksmiths do not have comprehensive access to equipment. So, without the original car key, they don’t have the capacity to replace lost car keys for some models.
  • Car insurance provider: Car insurance providers are another option when replacing lost car keys without the original. However, not all car manufacturers provide insurance for car key replacements.
  • Local garage: These are usually the last resort on the list of car key replacement methods. Local garages are affordable and quite reliable when replacing lost car keys with the original.

Some local garages have the equipment to get spare car keys without the original, others do not. If you get lucky, your local garage may have equipment that works for your key type and car’s model.

Relate Article: What to do if You Have a Broken Key in Your Car Lock

Cost of car key replacement without the original

Replacing car keys when you have the original costs less than when it is lost. When you have your car keys, all you need to do is duplicate them. The cost of car key duplication ranges from $100 to $500 depending on the sophistication of the car key.

On the other hand, the cost of car key replacement without the original ranges from $350 to $100. However, this pricing is a function of several factors including:

  • Key type and car model
  • Method of car key replacement
  • Location
  • Time of the day
  • Time of machine used for replacement

Wait for Replacement

Getting a spare car key when you have the original takes an hour or less. On the other hand, getting a spare car without the original will take a longer time frame.

Depending on the level of expertise of the replacement company, the available equipment and location, you may spend days waiting to get a replacement car key. Averagely, car key replacement (from an excellent car locksmith service) without the original takes 12-24 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Replace a Car Key Without The Original

Here’s what you need to know:

Are there other car key replacement options?

Yes, brand dealers also replace lost car keys without the original.

How does the time of the day affect the price for car key replacement?

Most car key replacement services have working hours. For some replacement services, they may charge more after closing hours.

How does location affect my car key replacement price?

Different places have different costs of living.  If the cost of living in your location is high, you can expect this overhead to reflect in the cost of car key replacement.

Do I need to worry about towing my car to an auto smith?

There is no need to tow your car if you are locked outside. Auto locksmith services have emergency services to cater for that. You can also try roadside services if any is within your reach.

Related Article: Car Key Stuck in the Lock: How to Fix it and Cost

To Wrap It Up

The first thing to do after misplacing your original car key is to inform an auto locksmith. An auto locksmith will ensure there are no cases of theft after losing the original key.

Furthermore, when replacing a lost car key, it is essential to expect a variance in how long it takes. For car keys with more sophisticated designs, the auto locksmith may need an extended timeline to deliver a replacement set. However, for basic car keys, getting a replacement set is a speedy process, even without the original.

We emphasize the need for a professional car key replacement service provider. A professional auto locksmith will have all the equipment to duplicate all car key types irrespective of the model. In addition, they can seamlessly create spare keys without their originals.

To enjoy professional services like this, choose Car Key Replacement CA. We have the tech and experience to replace all types of car keys — without the original. Contact us today!