How do electronic car keys work?

Written by geoffrey st. marie
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How do electronic car keys work?
Electronic keys run on a valuable chip found within a "plastic" shell. (Car key image by Corneliu C from

The traditional form of car key is called a master lock key. It works simply by being placed into the ignition, thus disengaging the steering lock. Electronic keys work slightly different, using new technology to communicate with your vehicle.

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An electronic car key works because of the chip inside it. Since this chip is a "passive chip," it does not require any battery to power it. When you put the electronic key in the ignition of your car, the vehicle's computer recognises the specific code embedded in the chip.


Electronic keys have the potential to offer two functions--access to your vehicle and security. Rather than buying an expensive alarm system, electric keys are typically made with a panic button that turns your car's horn on. Whether in your home or alone in a car park, this considerable noise may go a long way toward protecting your person or your property.


If any damage occurs to the chip, in all likelihood, you will not be able to start your car. Due to the sensitive and privileged information in the chip, you will need to go through the car manufacturer to replace the key.

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