You’ve possibly got your car locksmith’s number in speed dial mode on your mobile and rely on him blindfolded in your hour of distress. But have you ever wondered as to how do car locksmiths create your much-needed replacement car key and most importantly, complete the task of car key programming in the least possible time? Read on to learn more about the art behind the programming of car keys of different car brands — right from the equipment required to the skills involved.
Over the years, automotive technologies have traveled a long way, and one of the areas that have undergone a sea change is the ignition system. The traditional mechanical keys have been replaced by keys comprising integrated chips that need to be programmed into your car in order for the vehicle to start.
What do Car Locksmiths actually do?
Auto locksmiths program FOBs and car keys by interfacing to the vehicle’s computer by way of the OBD port, which is typically located below the steering column. This software is available commercially and allows car locksmiths to program new FOBs/remotes/keys and enables the vehicle to recognize the replacement key and at the same time, ensures the removal of old remotes/keys/FOBs so that they cannot be used to start the vehicle.
Different Types of Car Keys or Car Key Identification
A majority of newer vehicles have 4 types of remotes and/or keys.
The first category comprises keys that have a plastic head that comes with a programmable chip that is embedded in it to start the vehicle. There is also a blade to unlock/lock doors as well as insert it into the ignition. The second type comprises a key/remote combo with a programmable chip that is embedded in the key head’s casing which contains a remote that unlocks/locks trunks and/or doors. Thirdly, key FOBs are remotes that have buttons for the trunks/doors, but there is no visible key to start the vehicle. These cars use a push button and override keys are typically tucked away inside the FOB. Lastly, Proximity FOBs simply need you to come close to the vehicle to unlock doors and start your car.
How does an Auto Locksmith Program Car Keys or FOBs?
If you’re unable to self-program your car keys because a self-programming process does not exist or you do not have the requisite number of operating keys or the software/computer/tools required is extremely expensive, you will need to find a reliable and experienced car locksmith. You can also opt to go to a dealership but the costs involved will be higher.
A majority of Asian and American automobile manufacturers usually share the programming protocols involved with car tool manufacturers to enable these companies to develop the requisite hardware and software needed to program car keys. An auto locksmith purchases this equipment so that he/she can make a replacement car key and/or offer car key programming services of various car brands.
The Work Involved
A car locksmith connects his/her computer with the suitable software into the OBD port to program a vehicle’s key, FOB, or remote. Various companies offer computers and software for programming that support different models and make of cars. There is NO system that programs all the models and makes available, and an auto locksmith incurs a considerable amount of expense to procure these tools required to service car keys. The programming software enables a car locksmith to add as well as remove keys from the vehicle.
But there is a rider involved.
The software or computers do not allow a car locksmith to program keys throughout the day. Often, a “token” system is in place that only permits the computers to program a car key only when a car locksmith uses a pre-paid token. An auto must purchase tokens for car key programming, and every attempt at programming requires a token. This is a cost that an auto locksmith has to incur for each car key programming that he attempts.
Additional Cost You May Incur
Certain vehicles require the addition of a Skim Code when a car locksmith makes an attempt for car key programming; this skim code can be procured by paying a cost through the dealership. You can also acquire the skim code by providing the dealership with the title yourself. Usually, this is considered to be information owned by you, and you won’t be charged as you are the vehicle’s owner. But the information needs to be received by you in person and can save you some money associated with getting a replacement car key.