Smart Keys

Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to go digging through your pockets or through your purse in order to find the car keys? Especially if its raining outside, you can’t find your keys and all you want to do is jump into your car before you are soaking wet; what a leisure that would be. Luckily for car owners, its a convenience that is available today. While its availability is not currently standard in vehicles, more and more manufacturers are incorporating these types of systems into their cars. These are commonly referred to as “Smart Key” systems. Smart key systems will vary from vehicle to vehicle, but they all have the same underlying principle behind their use; consumer convenience.


Smart keys are usually in use among higher-end luxury vehicles. The pioneer of these smart keys was Mercedes Benz with its use of its “Keyless Go”. This system

Push button ignition switch

allowed Mercedes owners to keep their key fobs in their pockets when unlocking their vehicles. When approaching, receivers within the body of the vehicle pick up that the key fob is nearby and unlocks the door. The same principle applies when wanting to start the engine. When the car senses the key fob inside the vehicle the driver can simply push a button to start the vehicle without putting any key in the ignition.

Other manufacturer’s systems have adopted much of the same functionality, though each has its differences and their own signature features. Another common feature is a smart key with the ability to memorize a user’s comfort settings, with the settings corresponding to each users own smart key. This includes external mirror tilts, steering wheel placement, and positioning of the drivers seat and floor pedals.

Probably one of the most compelling additions to a smart key’s repertoire is a users ability to program the vehicle to perform a series of functions from the push of a button. For instance, imagine you are inside your home brewing yourself a cup of coffee. You realize that you should probably start the car and give it time to warm up the cabin so that you’re comfortable on your drive to work. So you reach for your key fob, push the engine start button, and the car cycles on the heat as you programmed it to do after remote start. You just sip on your coffee as you continue to wake up and get ready for the day.

While these sleek features may peak the interest of any car consumer, don’t get too excited as you can’t have them all. These advanced smart key systems are not fluid among manufacturers, as each system has its own unique set of features it offers.


Smart keys aren’t just for the consumers convenience, but also the security and safety of the vehicle. Instead of key fobs that send out one consistent unique code to match the car, smart keys use rolling codes. This technology makes it so that car thieves using devices to pick up your key fobs unique code are no longer enough to get into your car. The vehicle picks a random code each time the unlock button is pressed and then the smart key produces the correct code on its end. The use of rolling codes goes far to keep your car secure. While there is no way to guarantee a vehicles security in the long run, you can safely bet that car producers will continue to implement new security features.

Smart keys can control a lot of your vehicle, making it even more important to keep your keys accounted for than before. But now there is the added need to keep your smart key’s battery charged. Thankfully most of these keys will notify you of a low battery, whether its through your vehicles console LCD screen or a low battery LED light on the fob. But in case you don’t heed the low battery warning, smart keys will have a mechanical key inside the smart key fob. This way you can start the vehicle even if your smart key is dead.

What about smart key replacement?

Getting a smart key replaced is a lot costlier than an ordinary key, even if that ordinary key has a transponder chip in it. Many of these manufacturers systems are proprietary, and most auto locksmiths wouldn’t have the capability to replace a smart key. A vehicle owner equipped with a smart key will have to go through the dealership, and will have to pay the full price that accompanies.

Transponder Keys

If you’re going to fret over the expense of forking over a good amount of money for a car key replacement, you might as well know why you are spending so much. Society puts a high price on security, and it is no exception when it comes to car keys. The high cost of replacement is often related to the sophistication of the car Free image courtesy of (Transponder Key)key, hence the term “Smart Key”. These types of keys go a long ways in thwarting attempts at grand theft auto.

So if you are the proud owner of a newer vehicle, chances are that you are also the owner of one of these Smart Keys. These keys have a transponder chip that is placed inside the key (typically inside the large plastic fob) that sends out a signal to your vehicle. Your vehicle is programmed to only accept a unique signal, and will not start unless it detects that signal. All this to ensure that it is indeed you (or at least your key) starting the car.

So next time you find yourself in need of a replacement transponder key, realize that is not just the key and the cutting that you are paying for, but also the necessary programming that matches your key with your car. It may seem like a high price to pay for a key, but it is a good line of defense against would be car thieves.