Transponders: Applications, Programming, Cloning and Retrofit

Locksmiths can provide a range of automotive services, from lock repair and on-board programming to cloning and transponder key device programming.


The transponder based anti-theft (engine immobilizer) system was introduced into the North American market for the 1996 model year. Today in 2012, two manufacturers supply the majority of transponder technology for the North American market: Texas Instruments and Phillips. Texas Instruments fixed...


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Transponder key cloning has made a major step with Bianchi introducing clonables for BMW and Volvo models. With the introduction of clonable keys for these vehicles, a previously untouchable market has become available for locksmiths. According to some reliable sources, this is only the beginning.

The most important difference between cloning and programming is that a limited number of programmable transponder-equipped keys/fobs can be recorded into the vehicle’s on-board computer. In contrast, an unlimited number of cloned transponder-equipped keys/fobs can be created. Each cloned value is read and accepted like the original programmed transponder.

Most ampoule and chip transponders are molded into the head of the key blank. The plastic encapsulates the transponder protecting it from the elements. The position of the transponder within the head varies depending upon manufacturers, models and years.

Important: Do not mistake a clonable transponder key for a programmable transponder key. A clonable transponder normally does not have a preset value. Programming this transponder will result in a problem, as the on-board computer cannot recognize it.

Some of the clonable and multi-vehicle programming devices can be upgraded to the manufacturer’s most up-to-date models. For more information, contact the device manufacturer.

A cloning machine can do more than just clone. A cloning machine can be used to identify a customer’s transponder-equipped key to know beyond a doubt the proper transponder for the customer’s vehicle. Insert the customers’ key and press the button to read the transponder. Most cloners will indicate they type of transponder. Some will indicate the readable value.

 

Chipless Transponder Key Blanks

The concept of chipless transponder key blanks offers locksmiths the ability to continue to use a customer’s transponder in a new key blank or blade. Retrofitting the damaged, worn or mis-cut keys’ transponder eliminates the need to either program or clone a new transponder. Chipless transponder keys can save customers’ money.

There are two styles of chipless keys. The first, similar to the original bow-shaped key blank, has a slot that accommodates the transponder within a cradle. The cradle is normally loaded from the top and having a poke hole in the bottom of the head to push out the cradle. This style is available from Bianchi, Jet Hardware and JMA. Bianchi calls this the Slide-Cap Type or the Shell Type. Jet Hardware offers their chipless keys with the suffix -LC. Many of the JMA automotive and motorcycle key blanks are available chipless.

JMA offers the option of ordering a chipless key blank with a transponder of choice. As an example, before aftermarket key blanks were introduced, you could use the Lexus long blade key blank with a JMA TPX2 Texas Instruments Encrypted clonable chip for the first version of the Kia Amanti. This configuration allowed locksmiths to clone a customer’s key, eliminating the necessity of purchasing the key from a dealership.

The second style is a removable transponder carrier that slides into an electronic key head. Transponder heads with carriers or carriers are available from Bianchi, Ilco and Jet Hardware. The Bianchi TKXX chipless head is the head and insert that contains four transponder slots in specific locations. The head is similar to the TK100 and works with the Bianchi horseshoe blades. The Ilco Electronic Chipless Head and carrier, part number EH3C, has the same overall shape as their Texas Instruments and Philips 2nd generation Crypto Electronic Heads. The carrier has four pockets that accommodate different shape transponders in specific locations. The carrier slides into the Electronic Chipless Head and then attached to the modular key blade. Jet Hardware offers the ETH head with removable transponder drawer to be used with their 2-piece keys. The drawer has different size pockets that accommodate different types of transponders in specific locations. The ETH head is the same basic shape as the Jet Hardware SCH heads.

Important: Always cut and test the mechanical operation of the blade before assembling.

 

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or the following manufacturers:

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