Transponder-based vehicle engine immobilizer systems were introduced for the 1996 model year to the North American market. Within a few years, both domestic and “world” manufacturers had introduced a number of vehicles equipped with transponder-based engine immobilizer systems...
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Transponder-based vehicle engine immobilizer systems were introduced for the 1996 model year to the North American market. Within a few years, both domestic and “world” manufacturers had introduced a number of vehicles equipped with transponder-based engine immobilizer systems.
Transponder-based engine immobilizer systems were developed to prevent vehicle theft, a worldwide problem. For an engine immobilizer equipped vehicle to start and be driven, not only must the ignition key be cut to the proper bittings, but also the key must be equipped with the proper transponder programmed to the vehicle itself. If someone attempted to start the engine with a properly cut key, but not a programmed transponder, the engine would not receive either fuel or electrical or both. In most instances, transponders have their own unique value. There are billions of different transponder values.
In addition, a transponder has to be in range of the antenna coil surrounding the ignition lock in order for the on-board computer to read the transponder’s value. The average read range of an antenna coil varies. However, the normal distance is approximately 1 to 1 ½ inches.
The first transponders were a fixed value type with no encryption or additional security features. Manufacturers include Megamos, Philips, Temic and Texas Instruments.
To program fixed value transponder equipped keys, each vehicle manufacturer has its own specific methods and programming device. It would be a few years until a multifunction programmer was introduced into the North American market.
Some manufacturers enabled on-board programming as an alternative to using a programming device. On-board programming can be for “lost (no) keys” and “adding keys”. Some manufacturers require two programmed transponder-equipped keys in order to add additional keys using on-board programming. Chrysler, Dodge, Eagle, Jeep and others require a P.I.N. in order to program transponder-equipped keys to their vehicles. Some vehicle manufacturers incorporate a time delay before transponder-equipped keys could be programmed. Each vehicle manufacturer has a limit for the number of programmed transponder- equipped key values, often 6 – 8 keys for the number of programmed transponder equipped key values. However, there is no limit to the number of keys that can operate the vehicle as long as they have the same value. This is when cloning becomes a good option.
The first clonable transponder-equipped key blanks were introduced in 1998. They were developed to clone some of the fixed value transponders including Honda and Mazda. Aftermarket key blank manufacturers introduced the original cloning machines.
To make additional keys, only one operating transponder-equipped key was necessary. To clone a fixed value transponder key, a cloning machine and compatible clonable transponder key blanks were all that were required. The vehicle did not have to be available. Over the next few years, just about every fixed value transponder equipped key could be cloned.
As these clonable fixed value transponder equipped key blanks were being introduced, vehicle manufacturers were developing encrypted transponders for not yet introduced vehicle models. These transponders would provide a higher level of technology and security. The first vehicles equipped with the engine immobilizer systems using the encrypted transponder were introduced for the 1999 (Chrysler) and 2000 (Ford) model years.
Important: Transponders and electronic keys are not backwards compatible. This means a first generation encrypted transponder cannot be used to operate a vehicle whose engine immobilizer system is designed for a fixed value transponder or vise versa. A second generation (Philips Crypto) transponder and electronic key cannot be used to operate a vehicle whose engine immobilizer system is designed for a first generation transponder or a fixed value transponder. In addition, transponders are application (manufacturer model and year) specific and are not interchangeable. A Texas Instrument fixed value transponder is not interchangeable with another manufacturer’s fixed value transponder.
More than 160 models of vehicles use the Philips Crypto transponder chip technology. Philips Crypto cloning equipment enables you to clone keys for approximately 400 vehicle models.