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What to do when transponder key is lost

If you’ve ever lost your transponder key, you KNOW what a headache that can be! Once you’ve realized it is missing, a million thoughts race through your head. Is it really lost or did I just forget where it is? Does a crook now have my key and soon my car? Where did I see it last? How much will it cost to replace? Temecula Locksmith often gets calls from people that have lost their transponder chip key, and don’t know what to do about it. We thought this post would be helpful to readers in similar situations. Good news; all is NOT lost! Whether you live here in Temecula, CA or anywhere else in the world, if you are missing your car’s transponder key, just follow our advice and everything will be just fine!

Wait; which of my car keys are transponder keys?

You’d be surprised how many people don’t know the difference between “regular” car keys and transponder chip keys. Most cars dated from 1995 use transponder keys. They were designed to cut down on auto theft and they work so well that almost all major auto manufacturers now use them exclusively for their new models.

Your key consists of a blade that is inserted into the key slot. This blade is cut with grooves and ridges that interact with the pins inside the lock. The other part of the key is the handle or head that you hold in order to turn the key. Transponder keys have these same parts but they also contain a microchip embedded in the handle. This chip communicates with your vehicle’s computer by sending a signal unique to your car.

If the computer recognizes the signal, the car engine starts. If not, forget about going anywhere! Can you see how this would cut down on car theft? Not only will the wrong key NOT start your car, it’s expensive and very difficult to duplicate the transponder key and this prevents crooks from using a cheap key copy to steal your car.

Keep your cool!

Don’t you hate it when people tell you to calm down? Well, that’s our advice! Replacing your transponder key CAN be expensive, time consuming and frustrating, but it doesn’t HAVE to be! So don’t panic; affordable key replacement is easy to access and easy on your pocketbook and nerves if you know whom to call! Be glad you read this post early on – you probably just saved yourself money, stress and time!

Is only part of your key lost?

How can that be? How can you possibly miss part of a key? It happens with transponders at times. You might have dropped your key ring or the key itself and the chip itself fell out. When you bent over to pick up the key you might not have noticed the chip lying there on the floor/ground.

The key still works enough to let you back into the car or trunk but without the embedded chip that communicates with your car, the engine will NOT start. Usually by the time you notice that the key is not working, it is too late and the chip is long gone or you can’t remember where you dropped it.

Missing the entire key?

Keys are easy to lose; we’ve all done it. They might have fallen into the lake while fishing or the dog might have buried them somewhere in the yard. Keys are dropped by accident in malls or airports and are sometimes stolen right off of our desks and dressers. With “regular” keys you can simply cut a new one off of a spare but with transponders, you will need to have a new key cut from scratch and programmed to match your car’s computer. Car repair shops can’t do this and your typical key cutting source won’t/can’t either. These places include convenience stores, home improvement locations, lumber yards, hardware stores, gun shops, mail centers, and anywhere else you are accustomed to going to have a spare key made.

Avoid the car dealer!

No, we are not “trashing” the competition; we are telling it like it is. Car dealers are typically the go-to source for duplicating and programming transponder keys. One problem though; they are expensive and they used to have quite a little monopoly going on this. There’s another problem – your car doesn’t start, remember? That means a tow charge in order to get your car to the dealer’s service area. Then you have middleman markup charges (they still have to call THEIR locksmith!) and long wait times AFTER you’ve made an appointment!

Buy online

You can buy transponder keys online but Temecula Locksmith does NOT recommend it and here’s why. Craigslist and EBay offer transponder keys for sale, but they almost never work. You also have long wait times until you get your keys and little chance for a refund when they don’t work. You can buy key insurance that covers transponder chips but it is usually so expensive that you could simply pay a licensed, bonded and insured full service locksmith for a new key for roughly the same price!

What’s the solution?

Have you lost your transponder key and now need a new one(s)? Or, are your keys intact so far and you’d like to know what to do “just in case?” The answer is applicable whether you are in Temecula, CA or anywhere else in the country; call a full service automotive locksmith! Doing so will save you towing fees as we come to you! It will also save you hours of service area waiting as most shops offer same day assistance and fast response times.

Best of all, prices for transponder key duplication and programming are significantly better when you use an established locksmith service and NOT your car dealership. Test it out yourself and see. You can do a price check easily and simply by calling 3 different automotive locksmith shops and 3 car dealers. Now compare prices and other charges and see the difference!