What Type Of Car Key Do You Own?

What Type Of Car Key Do You Own?

I bet you didn’t know there were more than 5 different types of car keys. This is a topic we get a lot of questions on. “How do I know what type of car key I have?”.  We are the car key experts after all, so at the end of this read you should have a clear answer to this question. You know, in case of an emergency,or, you never know, maybe your life depends on it? Whatever the reason,the point is, it’s good to know. As the famous saying goes, “knowledge is power.”

Let’s get into it then.

1. Mechanical Car Key

A simple metal key with no anti-theft device is referred to as a standard mechanical key. It’s easy to copy and cut at your local auto shop or locksmith. Most owners of these types of car keys, however, will have installed a security alarm and an electronic fob to prevent their vehicle from being stolen. Perhaps you are one of them?

2. Transponder Key

An electronic transponder chip is found in the majority of vehicles manufactured after 1995. The electronic chip in your key transmits a unique code to the computer or immobilizer device in your vehicle. Once the ignition is switched on, if the correct message is sent, your car will start. If you lose your car keys, most professional car locksmiths will reprogram the key and transponder. Most transponder keys will transmit a fixed code each time they are used.

3. Laser Cut Key

Internally cut or sidewinders keys are other names for laser cut keys. These car keys can be inserted from both sides into the ignition. They’re a little thicker, and the shank of the key has their markings or key cuts. Lasers are used to cut the key in an extremely precise and difficult-to-replicate way.Because the machines used to cut these keys are more specialized, the lock cylinders for these keys are more difficult to select. This also raises the cost of replacement.

4. Flip Key

A flip key, also known as a switchblade key, functions similarly to any other car key. The appearance of a flip key versus a regular key is the primary distinction. When not in use, these keys are intended to fold up inside the fob. They’ve recently become very popular due to their smart, compact appearance. Switchblade keys are not equipped with a programmed transponder chip since they are only designed for new car models.

5. Smart Key

Smart Keys, Keyless Entry Systems, and Remote Key Fobs are becoming increasingly common in new vehicles. They aren’t really keys because they are meant to stay in your pocket and don’t need to be unlocked. An encoded infrared beam interacts with the car’s computer in a vehicle with a smart key system or keyless entry system. The car’s owner will generally be able to unlock it by pressing a button. With the push of a button, the car’s immobilizer will be switched off and the ignition will be turned on (if the smart key or remote key fob is within the car). When the owner exits the car and walks away, some smart keys will lock themselves.

6. VATS Key

VATS (vehicle anti-theft system) and PASS-Key are two terms for the same thing (Personal Automotive Security System). Each VATS key has a resistor embedded in the key-blade chip for added security, and each resistor can be one of 15 different values. The resistors are often referred to as a Vats Pellet or a Vats Chip. This car key has a resistor chip rather than the computing microchip used in transponder keys. Replacing the resistor chip in this type of car key can be tricky at times.

7. Valet Key

The valet key is an extra key that comes with other cars. This key has been altered to allow the valet to only open the car doors and start the engine. It prohibits the valet from accessing items in the trunk or glove compartment. To avoid joyriding, some valet keys, especially those for high-performance cars, go so far as to limit the engine’s power output.


Car Keys continue to evolve every day due to new technology, and the types will continue to increase day by day, but for now, we hope we have assisted you to know the different types and, to identify the type of car key you own in case of an emergency. 

Got your answer? You can let us in the comments.

We’re the experts when it comes to matters,car keys, and whether your car key is the basic mechanical key or a Smart Key. Be it Car Key duplication, lost car key programming, among other services, we can do the job. Contact us to find out more on our services.

Until next time, cheers!

Njoki Karingi
[email protected]

Hey there! My name is Njoki and I'm a writer, content marketer, and all-rounded creative. I love to create unique, fun, and entertaining content whatever the time or weather. Friendly, curious, and fun-loving, find me where the adventure is! You can join in!

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