1-800-UNLOCKS Blog

Can A Locksmith Make A Transponder Key?

Can a locksmith make a transponder key to replace the one you lost or one that is no longer working? The good news is that the right professional can help you. But, first, consider whether or not you have one and make sure you choose a trustworthy local locksmith to replace your transponder key.

What Is a Transponder Key?


Transponder Key – Non High-Security

A transponder key is not an uncommon key as some might believe. In fact, more manufacturers are producing them because they offer enhanced security for the vehicle owner. This type of key has a transponder chip located within it. The chip affords more security by being the only way the car will operate. Here is how they work. The chip and its transceiver communicate with each other. The vehicle’s transceiver is always looking for the right signal. If it does not receive any signal or the transceiver picks up on other signals in the area, it will not work. This means it will not allow the vehicle to start. Simply, without a working transponder key, you cannot drive the vehicle. These chips are set at the manufacturer. They can be maintained by your vehicle’s dealership. However, it is always beneficial to have a backup key available to ensure access to the vehicle. Most often, these keys will allow a person to access the interior of the car if the chip is not working. It is also possible to access the vehicle’s truck. However, a nonworking transponder key will not activate the vehicle’s engine.

How Do Transponder Keys Work?

As noted, the vehicle’s chip and transceiver communicate between each other. For this to happen, the transponder key must be set with the right programming – the same programming the transceiver is set to. If your vehicle came with this type of key, you will need to ensure it is always available and properly programmed. If you lose this key, it can be more expensive to replace than a standard metal key. This is because of the electrical components within it.

Is This the Same as a Remote Headed Key?


Car Remote & Remote Headed Key

It is a common misconception that remote headed keys and transponder keys are the same thing. Remote headed keys work more like a remote you would use for a television. They operate using radio frequency, and they can do significantly less. For example, a remote key will have a key blade on it. The key blade allows you to use the key itself to open the doors. At the top of the key blade is a small plastic top. This is called the remote key fob. The fob works to lock the doors to the car when a person presses the button corresponding with this action. When this happens, the fob communicates through radio frequency with the vehicle to signal the need to unlock or lock the doors. Some will also operate the windows, and even others will operate the vehicle’s alarm system. So, what is different? Transponder keys offer a higher level of security. Because of the electronic chip located in the key (which is also often called a key fob), it provides information sent from the fob to the car to turn on. Remote key heads cannot start the car. Transponder keys can do so – but only when the very specific key is inserted into it or communicates with the transceiver. Because of this, vehicles with a transponder key are far less likely to be stolen – even if someone breaks into your vehicle, they cannot start the car. In cars with standard alarm systems, on the other hand, most thieves can turn off the alarm in a matter of minutes, offering little protection. Because of this enhanced functionality, more manufacturers are moving towards using transponder keys over the standard remote headed key. That is no problem to consumers until the key stops working.

Which One Do You Have?

Both have a key fob, and most have a blade. So, how do you tell them apart? One way to know is to wrap aluminum foil around the key fob. When you do this, and trigger the mechanism to turn on the vehicle, if it does not work, it is a transponder key. If it does work, you likely have a basic remote headed key. This is because the electric signals cannot communicate through the foil. While this method may be an option, we recommend calling an auto locksmith offering transponder key services instead of trying to guess. This ensures you can get the right help for your key problem right away (and you do not damage the key as it is). Keep in mind that transponder keys have a variety of delicate electronic components in them. If you drop it, scratch it, or otherwise damage the chip, you will create an unusable key. This cannot be fixed and will require replacement.

What Happens When the Transponder Key Stops Working?

Many factors can limit the functionality of the transponder key. Or, you may have lost your car key. When this happens, it can create worry – unless you have a second key, you will need to have a new transponder key programmed. Not all locksmiths can duplicate transponder keys or program car keys and fobs. That is why it is so important to turn to a company specializing in them, such as our locksmith technicians at 1800Unlocks.

Replacing the Key Fob

When you work with our locksmith technicians, we will be able to provide you with a new transponder key system. It is important that only an approved key fob that comes directly from the car’s manufacturer be used. Each company makes a unique system. Each one has its own code and algorithm that must be met to ensure there is no damage to the vehicle. As certified locksmith technicians, we can do this for you. We will need to use your vehicle identification number in order to obtain the proper information from the manufacturer. This ID number is very important. It is how the manufacturer helps to prevent duplication of your key by someone looking to steal it. One of the steps we need to take is to learn what type of transponder key you have. There are two basic types. The first, and perhaps the more common option is an encrypted key. It is made with an encryption that matches your vehicle. In this case, we will use a tool to connect to the OBD port located on the car. Our automotive locksmiths will then set a new encryption. It will match the new transponder key with the vehicle. The second type is called a zero bitted key. This type of key does not have a preset inscription. This means we will need to use a special tool to create the new key as well.

What If the Transponder Key Is Not Working Properly?

There are some situations in which you still have the transponder key, but it does not work properly. There are various reasons this can occur. Most of the time, we can make repairs as needed to get it to work properly. We may need to replace the key in other cases. In all situations, it is essential to allow only an experienced professional to handle this work for you.

Why You Need a Professional Locksmith for Transponder Keys


Locksmith Car Key Programmer Cloner

No matter what the problem is with your transponder keys, only allow a licensed and experienced technician to handle the transponder keys. We are available to help you to do so. By using an experienced and licensed professional, you reduce the risk of complications that can be costly to repair. As noted, many manufacturers will require a certified professional to handle your transponder keys. If you are using anyone else, you could damage your vehicle warranty. You can avoid that by turning to an experienced and trusted professional like those at 1800unlocks.

Want to Provide Access Without Engine Access?

Some vehicle owners want to have a backup key just to open the doors or truck. You can have a duplicate key made of just the key features. This will allow you to access the doors to the vehicle. Remember, this will not start the car. For those who want to prevent this risk, never lose your transponder key. Whenever you have questions about your vehicle keys, turn to a specialized automotive locksmith. This is the best way to get the results you need without risking damage to your car.

How to Get the Help You Need Now

If you are in need of a new transponder key, or you need help with one not working properly, call 1800unlocks now. Our team will be able to learn what type of transponder key you need and obtain the information necessary to get a solution in place right away. For help with car key replacement and making transponder keys, use our website now. Simply input your zip code, and you’ll be able to find the certified locksmith nearby capable of helping you with your transponder key.
Call A Verified Locksmith Today

1-800-Unlocks is a peer-reviewed directory of professional locksmiths. When you call, you’ll be connected with a vetted locksmith in your area.

Sam Wilson
Author: Sam Wilson

I am a licensed locksmith and the owner of 1-800-Unlocks. The goal of our locksmith directory is to provide a safe place for customers to find a local legitimate locksmith and avoid the pitfalls of being a victim of scamming locksmiths.


  1. I need a transponder key

    1. Sure Omar, we can help. Just send us a contact form request at https://1800unlocks.com/contact/

    2. Have a 2002 dodge caravan lost the keys called a locksmith he came charged me 300 when he 1st tried the key with out hooking the box up to the van it worked right away . 30 mins later he tells me the key wont work now because tje battery is almost dead get a new battery leave the key forward foe an hr and it will program well the lighys and everything work fine car juat wont turn over had a new battery put in 2 weeks ago also so it can’t be the battery please any suggeations?

  2. I have my factory transponder but I think it is defective

    1. Hi Cody, one of our locksmiths can figure that out. They’ll need to test the key to be sure.

  3. I lost the transponder keys to my 1999 firebird is there any thing yall can dp

  4. We bought our Jeep about 3 yrs ago ( not from a dealer ) an it only came with 1 key an no fob . An today out the blue my Jeep won’t register the key I’m not sure if it’s a transponder key

    1. Hi Corey, What is the year and model of your Jeep? You might need a locksmith to come out and re-program that key. Or possibly supply a new one.

  5. I have 2 uncut transponder keys that I need cut and programmed. I only have 1 original key for my vehicle. Can this be done by a technician and what are the eatimated costs?

    1. Hi Robert, yes this can be done. It all depends on the year, make, and model of your car. The price will also change if you go to the locksmith’s office or if they come to you. In any case, all our locksmiths are family-owned and have their own pricing. If you use the zip code lookup on the website homepage, you can find the nearest locksmith.

  6. I’ve lost the only key to my 1990 Chevy Corvette. How expensive is it to replace it?

    1. Hi Bryan,
      It sounds like the locksmith will have to come out to you. All our locksmiths are family-owned and have their own pricing. If you use the zip code lookup on the website homepage, you can find the nearest locksmith. They’ll be happy to answer your question.

  7. Hi! I purchased a 2002 Chevrolet 3500 Express School Bus that the whole ignition and steering column has been messed up. I’m going to replace the stuff missing but it is going to take a little time. I put a battery in and now it tries to start. I have since found out that it had a chipped key that was lost and is the reason that all the stuff was tore out of it. I’m needing I guess a transponder chip with and ignition that will also fit into the door lock. Is this something you all are able to do?

    1. Hi Denise,

      Thanks for contacting 1-800-Unlocks. Yes, a locksmith can help. Please email us to let us know your zip code. Please use the contact form https://1800unlocks.com/contact. Or message us on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/1800UNLOCKS/

  8. I lost a fob to a 09 Camry. Doors are locked, no entry available. Have new fob, needs programmed. Do you provide onsite service foe a HYQ14AAB fob?

    1. Hi Rodney,
      Yes, we can definitely help. We have professional auto locksmiths all over the Country. Please use the contact form https://1800unlocks.com/contact to let us know your zip code, and we will find you the best locksmith. Or message us on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/1800UNLOCKS/

  9. Hello there. I just got a new flip key fob that needs to be cut and programmed . I only have 1 working key can you program the new flip key fob with just one key??

    1. Hi Mr. Marc, the locksmith would need to have all available keys that currently work the car on-hand. If we cut and program the new key without the currently working key on-site, that key could potentially get erased from your onboard computer. If you have no working keys, yes we can add the 1 key in. You’ll need the locksmith to come to you. What is your zip code? You can search for a locksmith, then navigate to the closest locksmiths listings. On the listing, you will find their local phone number. I hope that helps! If you need more help just dial 800-865-6257. If we don’t have a locksmith partner in the area, you’ll get redirected to customer service instead of the local locksmith, but we can provide you with the number to a legitimate local locksmith that we would trust.

  10. Lost master keys to my 2005 Lexus rx330, only have valet key, and a blade from a broken master. Can you make and program a master for me?

  11. A locksmith attempted to make a chip key for a 1993 Buick Le Sabre. After several hours of trying, he gave up. What would keep him from being able to program the chip?

    1. Hi Gloria,
      I just checked and I do see that car does require programming because it is a ‘transponder’ key. It’s actually something called a VATS. If the locksmith was using incorrect equipment, it could have failed. With VATS keys you must interrogate the car to determine which number VATS key you need. For example, you might need a #15 VATS key. So you must find a locksmith that can interrogate the car and then they musth ave the correct VATS key in stock. Then, they just need to cut the key and it should work. The locksmith must also make sure the car has a fully charged battery. I hope this is helpful. What is your zip code?

  12. I have a 2001 honda accord I lot tje key and called a mobile locksmith I was unsmder the impression the key was programmed but the car still didnt start he said have a mechanic or electrican come look at it then he would come back and he left a friend came to JELP using the same reader heused and said it reads error cause. A box under the steering colom is broke if that were true then the locksmith shouldn’t have .ade me think he did his job when I called back the next day he said he never said it was programmed that he just cut the key and charged me 220 can soemone help

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