The Different Types of Car Keys

The Different Types of Car Keys

Types of Car Keys

It’s hard to believe, but a little over 100 years ago, there was only one type of car key, and it didn’t have the same functionality as the car keys we know today have. In 1910, the first car key only controlled the ignition’s electrical circuit, which made it impossible to start the car when turned off. Once the switch was on, motorists still had to crank the engine to start the car. Now, with the simple twist of a key or press of a button, a car roars to life. Furthermore, there are so many types of car keys that it’s hard to keep track of. To simplify it, let’s go over the different types of car keys. 

Different Types of Car Keys

Mechanical Car Keys

Most cars made before the transponder key used mechanical keys, also called traditional keys. Mechanical keys are regular keys, like ones you would use to unlock your home or business. Nowadays, the only purpose drivers have for a mechanical key is to unlock their car without the presence of a transponder key or otherwise, or to unlock the trunk on an older model car. These keys are often not very secure since many copies can be easily made using a standard blank key. 

Mechanical Car Key
Source: Key Prof

Transponder Car Keys

Transponder keys are probably one of the most common car keys after they replaced mechanical keys. The shapes and sizes that transponder car keys come in vary. These types of car keys became popularized in the 1990s and since then have remained a staple in car key manufacturing. The electrical part of the transponder exists in the head of the key, where the electrical components communicate with the car to validate it. Transponder keys require programming, so a locksmith or dealership will be required to ensure it works properly. 

Transponder Car Key

Laser-Cut Car Keys

Laser-cut car keys are similar to transponder car keys, except they’re more secure. Like transponder keys, they were popularized in the 1990s, have a head where the electrical components are, and have a transponder chip. Unlike transponder keys, however, they were commonly used for luxury cars and are thicker than normal keys. Both sides of this thicker key feature the same laser-cut grooves, allowing the key to be inserted on either side. This also makes them more difficult to replicate. Oftentimes, locksmiths can make laser-cut keys for a lot less than dealerships will charge. 

Laser Cut Car Key
Source: Keyless Shop

Remote Car Keys

Another type of car key is the remote car key. This key resembles laser-cut car keys. However, instead of a transponder chip component, remote car keys are powered by a battery and feature buttons that unlock the vehicle and deactivate alarms. The remote portion of the key allows users to utilize these buttons at a nearby distance. The key blade is still necessary to insert into the ignition and start the car. 

Remote Car Key

Smart Car Keys

A step up from remote car keys, smart car keys are the newest in car key technology. Smart keys, like remote car keys, work when you’re nearby your vehicle, but unlike remote keys, smart keys can start your car without needing to be inserted into the ignition. Most cars that utilize these car keys don’t even feature a traditional ignition. For this reason, they do not need a key blade to the car key as they are completely reliant on the fob. These keys are sometimes costly to replace or repair and, if lost, could mean the entire locking mechanism in the car needs to be replaced due to the security risk. 

Smart Car Key

Tibbe Car Keys

One of the most secure and uncommon car key types is the Tibbe car key. Making its debut in the 1980s, Tibbe car keys are typically used by Ford and Jaguar. The key is instead a cylindrical shape, making it extremely difficult to duplicate, yet this also makes them a popular choice for those looking for more security. To replace this key typically means ordering a new one and having a locksmith or dealership program the chip to the car. 

Tibbe Car Key
Source: Keyless Shop

Need a Hand?

If you need help rekeying a key or need an extra set of keys, look no further than ASAP Locksmith. We service the Greater Houston, TX area with residential, commercial, automobile, and emergency lockout situations. Contact us at (832) 626-3991 or book a service with us online today. 

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