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Does my car have a transponder key?

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These days almost every vehicle comes with a transponder system which instantaneously answers the question in the title. Nevertheless, there is always the chance to see a transponder system in a vehicle in which you didn’t expect it or even not see it in a vehicle in which you thought it would. So how can you tell whether your car or the key has such a system or not? The following sections shall be all about figuring out the answer to that question precisely.

Ford and it’s early vehicles

We shall kick off with a little history about the transponder technology and why much of our focus shall revolve around Ford vehicles and keys. That’s because Ford was the first automotive company to make use of the transponder technology in their vehicles. The early vehicle fleet of Ford, mainly between 1996 to 1999, consisted of transponders as optional equipment and that too on a very limited number of models. From 2000 onwards, however, the in-home transponder system of Ford – PATS (Passive Anti Theft System) became standard and mandatory equipment on all their vehicles which is the reason why Ford has more vehicles with transponders on the road than any other manufacturer.

The start of this trend initially applied only to passenger and consumer vehicles. But with time, even most of the transport and carriage trucks and vans from the assembly line of Ford now come with their proprietary transponder system.

This brief history only cements the chances that your Ford car key most certainly has a chip. But even still there’s not 100% surety of that fact.

How can you tell if a key has a chip?

  • The best way to tell whether your vehicle key has a chip in it or not is to make use of the hit and trial method – you do one thing and if satisfactory results turn up then well and goodCar Keys 1. Otherwise, you just remove that possibility. In this case, you may do so by simply starting with a non-transponder key and see what happens! Mind you though that this method is bound to make things difficult if your vehicle does have a transponder system because if it unlocks with a non-chip key, you can easily conclude the absence of a transponder system. But if that doesn’t happen, the on-board computer shall read it as a theft attempt and probably make your little experiment, something to take home as a lesson and also that your vehicle has a transponder system and needs a key with a chip to open it.
  • There are other methods also to know if your Ford key has a chip in it or not, but those methods are a little cumbersome and a lot less fun than practical experiments such as in the previous method.
  • One such way is to check out some free vehicle references by different manufacturers. You can pull these references straight from the Internet or from your local distributor. Chances with these references are always 50-50 though because it is not possible to cover every new vehicle out there and even more so; to cover every aspect of said vehicles. But given that they are free of cost, it sure cannot hurt to give them a try.
  • If free manuals were of no help, then you can also seek the help of magazines and manuals that you have to purchase. The chances of finding the answer to your question in such magazines is definitely more than finding it in the free ones mostly because if you are paying for something that has a free alternative, you obviously expect to find more quality in it and that’s what these manuals do. Again, however, know that even such manuals are not cent percent accurate. Everyone is human, everyone has a limit, and in the process they can also miss out on some things or some information. If the free manuals have a 50% chance of success, then paid manuals give you almost 80% chance of finding what you’re looking for.
  • One sure shot way of getting the right information on your vehicle key is to directly contact the dealership or the salesperson through which you went because that is their day job. They are around vehicles day in and day out and would most certainly give you the right information about the presence or absence of a chip in your key.
  • We’re not quite sure why you would want to take this step just for the sake of information or even if you would take this step. You can always contact a locksmith, give them the make and model of your car, and they should be able to tell you if your Ford has an electronic transponder system in place. You surely would have to pay them some amount for the same and that’s the reason why taking this step would be illogical?

You can of course contact a locksmith if you lose your key and find yourself locked out of your vehicle and also if you don’t have a duplicate key. But please don’t go losing your key deliberately just to know if your vehicle comes equipped with a transponder system.

Miscellaneous Information

As we said before and are stressing it again; if your Ford vehicle is a model designed after 2000, there are two scenarios-

  • It is a passenger or a consumer vehicle in which case its key is definitely equipped with a chip.
  • It is a larger vehicle such as a truck or a van in which case, chances are still high of it having a transponder system in place albeit the reverse case scenario is also possible. The chance of having a chip-based key for such vehicles is almost 75%.

Also, the thing with chip-based keys is that they are required for starting the car, but to unlock the car, some models also have a regular key. So don’t go assuming that if your car is being unlocked by a standard key, it does not have a transponder system. Try firing the car up with it and then you’ll know for sure.

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