Does My Car Use A Transponder Key? Start Here

car keys

We receive several calls a day from customers here in Citrus county who have lost their car keys and are unsure whether their vehicle uses a transponder key system. It is for those people and millions more who may need this information that we have compiled this list and posted it here.

Manufacturers use a variety of systems when making their automobiles. Your car can use either a regular old fashioned key, a transponder key, a VATS key ( Vehicle antitheft system), Sidewinder keys, or FOB remote. It is our goal to list all manufacturers in alphabetical order. We will list make, model and year to help you indentify which key your automobile may use. We are adding notes to specific year, make and models as some vehicles require special requirements in order to make the key.

VATS keys were one of the first anti-theft type systems on the market. They were introduced as early as 1986. You can easily spot a VATS key because the “chip” is clearly visible in the key blade. This type system was the forerunner to the transponder key system used today.

automotive key using vats system

The transponder key system we use today is also designed to prevent automotive theft by using a computer chip hidden in the plastic head of your key. This chip sends a signal to the vehicles computer and when the right key is inserted, the vehicle will start. If a key that is not programmed to that vehicle is tried it to will send a signal to the computer and the vehicle will not start. The following short video explains in a little more detail a transponder system and how it works. Be forwarned though, the voice over in this video leaves something to be desired.

A Sidewinder key is a type of transponder key. It differs from a normal transponder key in that the cuts in the sidewinder keys are milled. This makes a sidewinder key harder to duplicate as the mill machines used to cut such keys are very expensive and not readily available. This also makes the price to replace a key very expensive to the consumer as the locksmith owning the machine that is capable of making sidewinder keys has spent over $10,000.00 for the machine.

You will see some vehicles listed that say Dealer key or dealer pin required. This means that you will need to obtain a pin code or the key blank itself from the dealer in order to have the key programmed. We here at 1 Able Locksmith will get these from the dealer at our customers request when needed, but some locksmiths prefer you go yourself to the dealer to obtain them. This is not an easy task if your keys have been lost to your only form of transportation. There are also some models that require a master key and the red learning key in order to be able to program a key. Vehicles requiring this type of system are not an easy or cheap fix if one or more of the neccessary components are missing. Should a red learning key or master key be missing, the entire immobilizer unit must be replaced. The new red learning key and the master key will come with the new immobilizer but the keys will still need to be cut to the igniton. This is a huge hassle for consumers and quite an expensive problem to resolve, so if your vehicle uses this type system be sure to keep that red learning key and master key in a secure spot! These systems will also be noted under the year and make of the vehicles having these requirements.

There are literally thousands of automobiles on the market today so this will be an ongoing process to get them all listed. If you do not see your automobile within these categories and need help right away, please feel free to email me at


We thought you’d like to know….

Stay safe Citrus county!


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