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Since original 1990s “read only” transponders have a life expectancy of many thousands of cycles, a metal key blade often wears out long before the chip. Thus, “less chip” transponder blanks and the original chip can keep the first generation of transponder keys operating today.
By Jerry Levine
In the mid-1990s transponder-based anti-theft systems were introduced into North American vehicles. Many of these vehicles are still in operation today. For daily drivers, the metal blades of these keys are wearing out to the point of difficulty operating the ignition and/or door locks.
In the past, an original or a “spaced” duplicate key could be cut and the customer would be on his or her way. A “spaced” duplicate key was made by raising the customer’s key slightly higher in the key machine vise jaw to compensate for the material lost as a result of use.
However, with a transponder-equipped key, this was not an option because the transponder could not be moved to the new key blank. The cost of replacing a transponder-equipped key is significantly higher when compared to a non-transponder equipped key. For this reason, many people will keep using their one transponder-equipped key as long as possible and will not consider getting new keys until “oops” the key will not operate the locks.
Depending upon the vehicle and the anti-theft system, there were originally three choices: machine programming, on-board programming or cloning. Each choice included having to purchase a new transponder-equipped key blank. Today we have more choices.
Starting several years ago, Jet Hardware introduced their line of “LC” (Less Chips) transponder- equipped key blanks. The “LC” key blanks did not come with a transponder chip, the idea being the customer’s transponder-equipped key would provide the transponder chip. The Jet Hardware “LC” key blanks are designed to accommodate the original transponder. Since the “read only” transponders have a life expectancy of many thousands of cycles, a metal key blade would wear out long before the chip. Also, if a transponder equipped key blank was mis-cut, the Jet Hardware “LC” key blank could be used with that transponder, making the mistake less painful.
Jet Hardware “LC” key blanks are available for the following:
Lexus (short) TR48-PHT-LC
Lexus (long) TR49-PHT-LC
A version of the replaceable blade transponder key concept was introduced with several styles of the “battery equipped” electronic keys. These key blanks were sold in three configurations - a complete key blank, electronic head or blade only. Should the blade become inoperable, it could be replaced. Should there be problems, the electronics could be replaced. These “battery equipped” key blanks are available from Bianchi, Ilco, Jet Hardware and STRATTEC.
IMPORTANT: All of the battery equipped electronic keys do not have identical transponders. Always use the key blank manufacturer’s information in order to determine their key’s compatibility with the vehicle make(s), model(s) and year(s).