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Theft Deterrent System Failure – Transponder Key & Smart Key Issues


My transponder key won’t start my vehicle.  Can you reprogram my key/car or repair my transponder key, remote key, or proximity remote (“smart key”)?


Yes, but only if the key is the issue.  Some transponder keys are very durable and rarely fail and the issue is more likely the vehicle.  However, some transponder keys, car remotes, and car “smart keys” are quite fragile and fail often.

Remote Head Keys, Proximity Remotes (“smart keys”), and other integrated remote keys have much more complex circuitry than most non-remote transponder keys.  Remote keys can have dozens of components, and the transponder components may be integrated with the remote circuitry.  These circuit boards are not often protected from corrosion, debris, or shock.  Most of the time the circuit boards in remotes don’t even have conformal coating, much less the level of protection non-remote transponder keys possess.  These types of keys are very susceptible to corrosion and shock, and fail often.  We can repair many car remotes, car remote keys, and car proximity remotes (“smart keys”).  Call us for more information and pricing on repairs.

Most Non-Remote Transponder Keys have very simple circuity that is sealed within a glass capsule or encased in solid material that protects the circuitry from corrosion, debris that can short the circuit, and physical shock that can dislodge components.  However, some non-remote keys have more complex circuitry that emulate multiple transponder chip types and formatting.  Transponder emulators are often used by hardware stores and general stores to reduce cost of inventory and reduce the training necessary to use more complex programming tools.

Failure rate of sealed non-remote transponder keys is very low and very uncommon.  Sealed non-remote transponder keys often require a fracture in their casing or capsule to fail.  Most non-remote transponder chip failures we encounter are a result of a hole drilled into the key or a key being run over by a lawnmower, or an emulator type transponder key from a hardware or general store.

Theft deterrent failure diagnostics should begin with checking all main fuses.  Beyond fuses, the best way to narrow the search of a theft deterrent system failure is by using manufacture recommended diagnostic computers to pull fault codes (trouble codes) and research those codes in a paid database.

  1. Pulling Fault Codes
    Manufacture recommended diagnostic equipment is always the best solution. However, there are many capable aftermarket general purpose diagnostic computers available. Just know that less expensive diagnostic tools are less useful and may not pull all trouble codes.

  2. Researching Fault Codes
    General internet search engines are not the best place to research fault/trouble codes will often result in inaccurate information. Free trouble code databases may not have all fault codes and may not have useful or valuable information. A good auto mechanic or a factory dealer service department will have access to a useful database.

  3. Troubleshooting with Fault Codes
    Automotive fault code descriptions can help narrow the search of an issue, but they will not always pinpoint the exact solution.
    Example: If the fault code description says something similar to “Incorrect Key” or “Key Not Recognized” then your issue could be any number of electrical/electronic issues other than the key. The issue may be the key, but it could also be any of the following:

• Low Battery Voltage
• Corroded / Loose Battery Connection
• Blown Fuse
• Damaged Relay
• Broken / Damaged Wire
• Loose Ground Wire / Connection
• Corroded Connection (in wiring harness, on a module, or at any other connection      in the vehicle)
• Module not Connected (any module that contains transponder or security            

   information, or any main module that is related to major vehicle function)
• Damaged / Defective Module (any module that contains transponder or security

   information, or any main module that is related to major vehicle function)

If a thorough diagnostic has been performed and it is determined a new key will solve the issue, please call us at 912-354-KEYS (5397) and one of our trained technicians can attempt to program a key.

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