Duplicate Car Keys With Chips – How To Go About Getting One Made

by Conner Mckay

Unlike the old days where keys were made out of metal, modern-day keys are different. Today’s keys are equipped with digital code. The keys communicate with cars via these codes remotely. Copying old keys would mean getting one made with the exact look. Here, it is all in the codes. To duplicate car keys with chips is also much harder than old metal keys.

Many manufacturers today have turned to these transponder keys, or better known as chip keys. Each key gets a unique code and that code is programmed to the car connecting the car and key. The benefits these chip keys provide have persuaded most modern car manufacturers to turn towards them.

The sophisticated technology behind these keys comes with a problem of its own. It is hard to copy them. To duplicate car keys with chips there is a long list of procedures that need to be followed. This makes it harder to get a transponder key replaced thus increasing the cost as well. Though people find this as a problem, it is balanced out with countless benefits you gain from this technology.

Before looking at how to duplicate car keys with chips, we need to understand the story behind them.

History Of Chip keys

When did these transponder keys first start to surface? Well, the history of chip keys dates all the way back to World War 2. Initially, the radio technology used in these keys was used in aerial combat. Military forces used this coded message process to discern friendly planes on their radars from enemy infiltration. This technology is so cutting edge it is still being used to this day.

After its success in World War 2,  Germany employed this technology because they had a problem with car thefts. To combat increased car theft, this technology was paired with keys. This drastically reduced car thefts in Germany.

In 1985, the key was first introduced to the US. GM was the first US auto manufacturer to produce a chip key for the 1985 Corvette. Even in the US, the birth of the transponder keys was due to car thefts. In the 1980s, Corvette thefts were on the rise, which forced the manufacturer to turn to technology. After the introduction of chip keys, Corvette thefts in the US saw a decline. This attracted a lot of manufacturers to start manufacturing vehicles with chip keys because of the stats seen previously.

How Does A Chip Key Work

To keep it simple, a chip key is a key that works with the use of radio waves. The automotive transponder system consists of four components. These four components include the chip key, the antenna ring or induction coil around your ignition, an immobilizer, and your car’s Engine Control Module also known as the ECM.

When you insert your transponder key into the ignition cylinder and turn it, this is when the process starts. The antenna will start sending radio waves in bursts. These radio waves are absorbed into the transponder chip. Lastly, the chip will send out its own frequency that is unique to the car.

This is the identification code that is absorbed by the antenna ring and sent to the ECM. If the ECM successfully recognizes the key or in this case, the code provided by the key, the immobilizer will disable and the engine will be allowed to start.

Pros And Cons Of Chip Keys

The technology that goes into a chip key is much more complicated than older metal keys. Also, it offers more convenience for the owners. On the other hand, there are some people who do not like the way technology advanced. They disagree on the fact that transponder keys make life easier. And they have their reasons. This is true as well. The transponder keys, just like the advantages they have a set of disadvantages that comes with them.

The Advantages

Added Security

This is one of the biggest advantages chip keys can offer. As we talked about earlier, the reason why the technology was applied to keys was due to the increased number of thefts. And we practically know that chip keys make cars harder to steal.

Assuming if someone were to steal your car, a thief would have to rewire your car in order to take your car. This is pretty much impossible. If anyone does have the skills to do so, he won’t be stealing cars for a living.

We have all seen people hot-wiring cars in movies. That is actually possible. Another security feature that is added to modern cars or to be more specific, cars that are equipped with chip keys, will automatically shut down if someone attempts to hotwire your car. Meaning they will not be able to start the car under any circumstances.

All of these things make it more difficult for someone to steal your car. Obviously, you cannot do anything if someone steals your keys. This is why it is advised to keep the keys on your person whenever you step out of the house. Lost car keys are a threat (unless you learn how to find an AirTag) because you don’t know what happened to them. For all you know, someone else might have it.


This is another advantage that chip keys can offer. If your hands are full, it would be more convenient for you to unlock your doors without actually needing to pull out your keys.

Having a keyless ignition makes it possible for you to avoid searching for your car keys. As long as you have it with you when you get in the car, that should do the trick. This can save a lot of time. Yeah, it just takes a matter of seconds, but if you do not have a transponder key, the difference adds up. If you were in a hurry, you surely would appreciate those few seconds that saves time.

Car Keys

There are many more scenarios where the convenience that a chip key can give you can make your life much easier. Parents who have to take care of children would know the value of chip keys.

The Disadvantages

This is the flip side of the coin. Just like the advantages, there are some disadvantages that are worth mentioning.

The Extra Weight

A small disadvantage but still worth mentioning. The extra weight that a key that a chip key puts on your key ring could be displeasing for some. This is especially true if you have some other key you use attached to the same key. Whenever you use the other keys, the added weight of a chip key could get irritating.

Many people prefer their keys to be lightweight and slim enough to slide into their pockets comfortably. Chip keys are relatively bulkier in nature. This is one of the faults that people pick out, saying it is uncomfortable to have it in your pocket or it just does not feel good.

Extra Cost

Having a car with keyless ignition is definitely going to cost more than a car with standard ignition. The added benefits that come with a chip key are well worth the extra price for some. But for others, not so much. Though the extra price is not bannered when purchasing a vehicle, the extra price is hidden somewhere with the overall price tag. It does make sense for the extra work that goes behind this advanced technology, and for the sake of our convenience, it’s priced slightly higher.

Another problem that could bite your wallet is if you lose your key. Unlike standard keys, the work that goes into making a chip key is much tougher. Replacing chip keys or making duplicate car keys with chips are much higher than before. This is why you should be careful with the way you handle your car keys. Misplacing them could end up costing you a lot.

The cheapest chip key or replacement could cost at least $40. This price could climb up to $100 or higher.

Ignition Switch Failure

This is more common with chip keys rather than standard keys. With standard keys, as long as you are careful and not rough with the ignition, your ignition should be fine. With chip keys, electrical malfunctions can cause ignition switch failures.

Ignition failure

This can happen without notice. With chip keys, replacing the ignition is cheap compared to the price of replacing an ignition switch when you have a car that uses a chip key.

Requires More Care

A transponder key literally uses an electronic chip, thus the name chip key. Unlike standard metal keys, chip keys are more fragile. Unless you bend a metal key, nothing bad is going to happen to it. With the chip key, a drop or if you trample it that could cause it to break.

Another problem with chip keys is that it is affected by the elements. This includes dust, dirt, and water. These could easily ruin your key. With standard keys, in the worst-case scenario, you end up with a rusted key. Even with a rusted key, it might still work, plus your key ending up as rusted and usable is extremely unlikely. The same is not true with a chip key. If it is messed up, there is no way that you will be able to start your car with that key.

For these reasons, your chip key should be more careful.  You can’t just throw it on the table or the kitchen counter once you go home. It is best to practice hanging it on a key holder or storing it in another safe manner.

How To Duplicate Car Keys With Chips

The work that goes to duplicate car keys with chips is much easier than replacing a key that you do not have. Even if your key is damaged beyond repair, it could help the process of duplicating one.

The actual ‘key’ part of a chip key is, you guessed it, the chip. The microchip inside your key could help in the process of duplicating a new one. If you already have the key with you, copying it is a lot cheaper than if you lose your key. This might be a factor that convinced you to get your car key duplicated. It will also prove to be useful in emergencies. Locking your car with the keys inside is also a hassle.

There are two methods of duplicating car keys. Let us take a look.

On-Board Programming

Since the theory behind a chip key essentially makes it a computer, it is not as easy as you think to program it. Programming a key should ideally only be done by an experienced locksmith professional. Other than the specialized tools that are required to get the job done, the person who does the duplicating should have the decent experience to actually make a working key.

The programming method that goes behind copying a car key differs from car to car. One of the programming methods that are highly effective is onboard programming. As it connects through the OBD port of your vehicle, it does need a working key to be available.

An OBD port is simply a space that is uniquely designed for connecting the OBD reader to it. This is the port that your mechanic connects the car to his equipment, which allows him to get information about your car.

Syncing Two Car Keys

This is much easier as the entire job is done by a computer. One key is placed on one side of the machine and a blank key is to keep on the other. The computer reads the code in your key and programs the blank key as an exact copy of the code. The machine finally syncs both the keys, so that they can access the same car.

If you do not have an original, replacing a car key is much harder. So duplicating your key while you still have the original could prove to be highly useful. It could save you a lot of money in case of an incident.

Where To Duplicate Car Keys With Chips

So now if you considered getting your car keys duplicated you might have another question. Where do I get it duplicated from? there are a few options that are available.


There are many websites claiming they can send you a duplicate key. Upon first glance, they would also be cheaper. So what is the deal with them? Are they legit? Is getting a new key just that simple? The answer is yes and no.

They will send you a key once make the purchase. But will it work? Not exactly, as it is a blank key. Programming is another job. This is a common thing that happens at most independent car key shops.

Another problem associated with buying car keys online is that there are cases where your key might not be programmable. Different cars have different types of codes and programming them differs as well. Most of the French cars, including Peugeot, Citroen, Renault, and Nissan, are not easy to program. Getting an online key to work is a difficult task to accomplish.

Most companies sell keys according to the brand of car you own. But some cars like BMW cannot be programmed this way. So buying a blank key online for a car like BMW is a complete waste.

Even if you do buy a blank key, that is just half the job and half the payment. You are going to have it programmed by the dealership. This going to cost a bit of money as well. So, don’t be fooled by the low prices on the website.


Talking about dealerships, you can get a key duplicated there as well. Rather than buying a blank key and getting it programmed, this is much more convenient and cheaper as well.

A huge advantage you get by getting the job done at a dealership is that they specialize in your car.  The dealership also has the capabilities to program the chip on-site and may even be able to make a key without having an existing key to copy the new key from.

Some dealerships keep records of the cars they sell. This includes the keys and codes as well. If this is the case, you lucked out. You wouldn’t even need the original key to get a copy.

This method is ideal if you have lost your key. In this case, you do not have an original to duplicate. If your dealership has kept the records of your car they will be able to hook you up with a replacement.

Dealerships still remain as one of the best options to get car keys duplicated. But sometimes they tend to cost a bit on the higher end.

Local Lock Smiths

Gone are the times of key cutting, keys are programmed these days. This might give you the idea that locksmithing is a trade that is obsolete in the car key department.

This is not true. With times changing and technologies advancing, locksmiths took their business to the next level as well. Even though all the locksmiths might not offer this service, this is becoming common day by day. Many locksmiths are adapting so that they can program chip keys.

Locksmiths keep programmable, chipped car keys in stock and can make a new car key that works with your car’s computer system. These types of keys are what online stores sell you. Without the programming though.

A locksmith should be able to cut a new key for your car and program the chip for you. This will depend on the technology he has access to.

Visiting the local locksmith is indeed an option to get duplicate car keys for cheap. Even with the common misconceptions, the locksmithing trade is not outdated.

Cost To Make Duplicate Car Keys With Chips

Before you even think about duplication, you need to have a physical car key in your possession. Without one now, you are not duplicating it, you are replacing the key. Replacing a car key generally costs more than duplication. As the name suggests, duplication is a copy and paste process. Replacing is building a new car key from scratch to match your car. This is much harder and costlier.

The normal key that you use is almost free when comparing to a transponder chip. While you can get a key cut for less than $5, a transponder key is going to cost over $100.

The cost depends on the type of car you own as well. Generally, economy class cars are going to cost between $80 – $150 for a replacement. Meanwhile, luxury cars are known to cost more. For example, a BMW or some models of Cadillac have more advanced keys. In some cases, they even go beyond the chip key category. For these luxury brands, a key replacement could cost around $1000. For those select few models, it is known to cost as high as $5000.

For a duplication process, getting your key replaced by a local locksmith should be cheaper than a dealership. Both use the same technology for duplication. They have a variety of blanks that can be programmed when required. This spans over dozens of brands. The quality of the product is often similar since the same technology is used by both of them.

Does Your Chip Key Contain Batteries

This is a concern that most car owners have. They stress over the possibility of their chip keys running out of power because of the batteries dying out on them. So is it true? Do transponder keys contain batteries?

The good news, you do not have to worry about batteries. The chip inside a chip key is powered by the car itself. Radio signals that are sent by the car power the chip.

Facts about Transponder Keys and Car Security

  1. Most cars made in the last 20 years have transponder keys as part of their anti-theft security measures.
  2. Transponder keys use microchips to transmit a low-level signal that is read by a remote receiver to unlock or open.
  3. Transponder keys are more secure as they help deter car theft by rendering hot wiring or breaking the ignition lock ineffective.
  4. Locksmiths can help with remote keys and can replace remote car keys and program new ones at a fraction of the price.
  5. Getting a key with a microchip copied costs significantly more than traditional rekeying.
  6. Programming a transponder key takes special equipment and skills that only a locksmith or car dealership has.
  7. It is not easy to unlock a car with transponder keys if you accidentally lock the keys inside the car.
  8. If you lock your keys inside your car, you can try to unlock them using a straightened coat hanger or by moving the rear seats through the trunk.
  9. In non-emergency situations, most local police are no longer able to respond to car lockout calls.
  10. To prevent locking yourself out of your car, you can avoid using door handle locks, hide an extra key, or upgrade to a transponder key or car with a keypad or proximity device for keyless entry.

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