key testerIt is now standard practice for cars to be fitted with transponder keys. For those that are unaware, transponders work by a transmitter in the keys communicating with the device near the ignition. Without this communication, an immobilizer will activate and the car will fail not start. Therefore, both the physical key and the functioning transmitter must be present for the car to turn over. This practice has become popular was a way to protect the car from being hot-wired.

Of course, while transponders are a useful tool they can also cause problems if damaged or wiped. The cost of replacing a normal key is relatively low, but this price increases drastically when it comes to replacing keys with transponders. Generally, the price can be anywhere from $50 to $300. This is obviously an expense that many are not willing to absorb if presented with another choice. Locksmiths are increasing their abilities to meet this demand and some can now offer reprogramming service. What this entails is reprogramming the damaged key, or programming a blank one, so it can once again talk to the car’s receiver.

There are a few tools now on the market to assist in reprogramming transponders. The AD 100 Pro Car Key Programmer, designed and manufactured in the UK, is compatible with over 60 car manufacturers. Made by Advanced Diagnostics, this handheld device is designed to be easy to use. Another model is the MVP Pro Car Key Programmer. It is made by the same company but may be more compatible with businesses that provide reprogramming service less often. The difference is that the MVP works on a ‘pay as you go’ basis. When purchased, it comes with a batch of ‘tokens’. Each time a key is reprogrammed it counts as one token, and once they have all been used the locksmith can then purchase another batch. Both devices are light and portable for roadside assistance, with large display screens that guide the user through the process. Additionally, they are both compatible with remote and smart keys and have software that can be upgraded as new cars come onto the market.

Another tool used by locksmiths are remote control testers like AD35 from Advanced Diagnostics. AD35, commonly used with remote control keys, can assist in diagnosing transponder keys for not just cars, but also trucks and boats. It works by reading the signal from the transponder and displaying it on an LCD screen as a numeric frequency. Since the frequencies used differ not just between manufacturers but also from country to country, an AD35 can save a lot of time, especially when reprogramming imported cars.

Often times, immobilizers have a pin that must be used in order to reprogram transponder keys. Traditionally the owner of the vehicle or the manufacturer would supply this information. Devices such as the AD36 VAG PINCODE Reader can now do this, saving time and effort and making it a valuable addition to the locksmith’s tool box.