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Articles Presented And Written By Robert N Simmons Jr. (Owner) To Help Educate Customers And Potential Customers.  Check Back Often As New Articles Are Added On A Regular Basis!

What Are “Chip” Keys?

There are two types of “Chip” keys:

1) VATs / PASSKey Systems:
There is some confusion as to what is a transponder and what General Motors produced which are known as VATS keys (Vehicle Anti-Theft System) or PASS-Key (Personal Automotive Security System). GM first introduced this system on the 1988 Corvette. The way this system works is the ignition key has a "chip" on it, which unlike a transponder is easily visible on the blade of the key. When you attempt to turn the ignition ON, the resistance of the chip is measured and compared to the value stored in the VATS decoder module. If they are the same, a signal is sent to the ECM allowing the vehicle to start. If the wrong resistance is read, then the signal will not be sent to the ECM thus not allowing the vehicle to start. The module will shut down for 2 to 4 minutes. During this time, any attempts to start the vehicle will not work. If the ignition switch is turned during this time, the timer will restart even if a key with the correct resistance is used.

2) Transponder Key

Transponder keys, which surfaced around 1993, are automotive ignition keys with signal-emitting circuits built inside. Transponder keys hide the circuit in the plastic key head so many people are unaware that they do in fact have this anti-theft feature. How this system works is when the key is turned in the ignition cylinder the car's computer transmits a radio signal (or challenge code) to the transponder circuit. This circuit has no battery; it is energized by the radio signal itself. The circuit typically has a computer chip that is programmed to respond by sending a coded signal back to the car's computer (response code). If the circuit does not respond or if the code is incorrect, the engine will not start. Some vehicles will “turn over” but not start while others will start for 2 seconds then stall.  Other vehicles will not engage the starter at all.

This is why chip keys are popular in modern cars and help decrease car theft.

A Simmons Locksmith can cut and program 95% of all Transponder Keys for A LOT less than the dealer.