Q: What is a transponder chip?
A transponder chip is a small electronic chip embedded in the plastic head of the key, which responds to a signal sent out by the engine management system every time you turn the key in the ignition. If the response from the transponder chip is not correct, or it doesn’t reply with the message the engine management system was expecting, then the engine won’t start. If you have a key with no chip, or a chip that is not coded correctly, then it will open all the locks on the car, but the engine will not start.
Q: How do I know if my key has a transponder chip?
A: After 1995, a European Directive came into place enforcing the use of immobilisers on cars from new. This means most cars manufactured after 1998 have electronic chips in the heads of the key to disarm an immobiliser. You can’t always tell whether your particular key has a chip or not, without using special equipment. Some keys have a red or blue tab in the top, and some have just a plain plastic head with the chip embedded inside. The chances are that if you have a car built after 1998, it will have a chip. Some manufacturers, such as Volkswagen started bringing this technology in from as early as 1996.
Q: Why are transponder keys so expensive?
A: Unfortunately the transponder chips required are not cheap, and an older car will often have a transponder chip which is just as expensive as a newer car. This means, that our transponder keys start from £30 and go up to £45. This is not expensive compared to many dealerships, and includes cutting to suit the locks on your car, and our keys are supplies with the correct chip for your car, ready for programming.
Q: Where can I get my key programmed?
A: We can programme some keys if you are able to send us your original in the post. Alternatively if you are local to us, we can programme your key for you. There are also various independent garages nationwide who will programme your key for you, you don’t necessarily need to go back to a main dealer.
Q: How much will it cost to get my key programmed?
A: The cost of programming varies depending on the car, and where you go. For example a main dealer is likely to be more expensive than an independent garage. We charge from £25 to programme your remote, or £45 to program your transponder. This is normally done at our workshop, but in some cases can be done by post.
Q: Is programming the transponder chip the same as programming the remote central locking buttons?
A: No! The remote central locking on your car key operates on a different circuit to the transponder chip, and needs to be programmed separately to the transponder. Instructions on the Internet to ‘program your key’ are usually just to program the remote central locking buttons and will not affect your transponder chip in any way.
Q: Where can I find my key number?
A: This varies depending on the year, make and model of your vehicle. Please contact us, and we will do our best to help you locate it.
Q: Do you use original key blanks?
A: Unless otherwise stated, we do not use original key blanks, we use high quality steel key blanks manufactured by JMA or Silca. If you would like to source an original blank, we would be more than happy to cut it to your vehicle for you.
Q: Can you supply blanks with a plastic head?
A: Some blanks have a plastic head as standard, others have it as an option, and it is not available for other applications. Please contact us if you would particularly like a key blank with a plastic head.
Q: How should I take a photo of my key?
A: Lay the key flat on a surface, and take a photo from directly above. We use the image to identify the blank, and read the depths of the cuts. Therefore, the image needs to be in focus and clear to allow us to do this. If you are unsure whether a photo you have is clear enough, send it to us and we will get back to you.
Q: What if the key I buy from you doesn’t fit?
A: We will work with you to understand why, and if necessary supply you with another key which will fit. If we are unable to supply a key which fits we’ll provide you with a full refund.
Q: What do I do if I’ve lost my keys completely?
A: In the first instance, contact us. There are a number of possible solutions, and these will depend on the model and age of your vehicle.