Transponder or Computer Chip

Car Keys & Remotes


A Little Car Key History and How We Can Save You Time, Trouble and Money.




A Little History

Every car since the introduction of the Ford Model T to the brand new Tesla, requires the driver of these automobiles to use a key to start the engine.

Keys and locks for every car basically remained and functions the same for decades. Automobile keys were limited to how many unique keys could be created and different from each other. This means that one could buy a set of keys and know that at least one of them would work. Hot-wiring, picking or pulling the ignition locks were done with great speed by auto thieves and cars were stolen by the thousands.

Model-T Key

Yes! We still stock these today.

The steering wheel lock was implemented in the 1960’s and was thought to be the answer to reduce these occurrences. Locks got slightly stronger but car thieves just got smarter. By the 1980’s, vehicle thefts were at epidemic proportions. After paying out millions of dollars in claims by the early 1990’s, the insurance companies demanded that the auto manufacturers do something about this problem. Without a cure, they claimed that the insurance rates would be so prohibitive and the result would be that a new car would simply be too expensive to own and operate.

Enter the Transponder

In 1995 the car companies responded. The use of a Transponder Key was introduced. These keys are basically a regular mechanical key coupled with a very small radio transmitter inside a ceramic wedge or glass tube. The chip is so small that you can’t see or detect it as it is buried inside the plastic or rubber head of the key. These keys are often called “Computer Chip, Smart, Immobilizer or Programmable” keys. Combining the words “Transmitter and Responder”, to form the word “Transponder”, these keys communicate with the car’s on-board computer or, as it is known, the Engine Control Module (ECM). A minute radio signal, operating in the frequency range of 125 kHz, “talks” to the ECM and if recognized, will allow the car to start. This communication occurs in less than a second when you turn the key. Drivers are not aware of this process when they start their car. 

The use of this technology has drastically lowered the percentage of car thefts and it seems that this form of theft prevention will be with us for a while. That is some great news! Now for the bad news. These keys can be very expensive. The average transponder key at the car dealership is about $150.00 with the necessary programming fees. Some keys can cost well over $300.00. Almost extinct is the $3.00 car key.

If the Service Advisor at your car dealership tells you that they are the only option that can create duplicate or replacement keys for your car, they are either mistaken or you may have been mislead. In most cases we can perform this exact same service. Our customers have other options other than paying top dollar for replacement keys. A-1 Lock and Safe has the ability to duplicate or copy your keys for around half the rates of what the car dealerships charge. By setting an appointment with us, we can generally have you in and out in a matter of 10 to 15 minutes. There is no need to leave the car at the dealership for several hours any longer. Our professional staff will insure that we have the proper keys and remotes before you arrive so we can assure you that your request will be fulfilled promptly. Some Roadside Service Companies will let us do this work for you at a reduced price or in many cases, for free. As you can see, it is time-consuming and costly to get transponder keys. Can you imagine if you only had one key and you accidently lost or broke it? Your situation will be much, much worse.

Remote Keyless Entry

Remote Keyless Entry (RKE) fobs, or simply, “Remotes” work in a similar manner as a transponder key and of course, we stock and replace these too!

These keys actually do take batteries unlike the transponders mentioned above. And the most common problem is simply a dead battery. We always carry fresh batteries on hand and we’re glad to install them for you in your remotes.

Please give us a call and we will be glade to explain this in much greater detail.

  • Is your Honda key hard to enter the door or ignition lock or difficult to turn?
  • Did your Toyota, Chrysler product or Mercedes ignition fail to turn with the proper key?
  • Is your Ford Focus ignition causing you to cry?
  • Did you lock the keys in your BMW and no one else could get them out?
  • Did your Lexus key break away from its plastic case?


These and many other questions are easily answered here.  We get many, many complaints about the above problems and we have years of experience repairing and resolving these issues.  We take care of these quickly and as always, you will find our rates to be very reasonable.  We will cut a new key set to factory specs or replace the plastic housings or shells if necessary.

Key Making Machine

We have the same equipment car dealerships use!

You may be aware of keys which are known as “Sidewinder Keys” or “Laser Cut Keys”.  The name implies that Hi-tech laser cutting equipment must be used to cut these keys and only a car dealership with a tremendous budget can afford to buy the equipment to produce these keys.  Don’t let the name fool you.  There are no laser beams cutting your keys.  These keys are cut with the same machinery that we have.  It is true that a good key cutting machine is expensive and we have invested a serious amount into them, which translates to an accurate, reliable, and working key for you.

If you are driving an older car, we stock many door, trunk and ignition locks. Let us do this work for you. Your car mechanic may be able to do a lot of this work, but we specialize in this area and already have the parts in stock. We are going to be much less expensive. In short, we know what we are doing! We have been doing this for decades. IF your car requires two keys to open and start your car, those days are over. We can pair one key to operate the doors, ignition, and trunk. Your mechanic or car dealership CAN’T do that.

Locked out of your car?

Lock outs? We excel at this. Scratch and damage free openings for the cab or trunks on almost all cars. BMW lockouts is our specialty.

Burglarized or vandalized locks?

We stock parts and pieces that even the dealer or your mechanic can’t get.

Car lock smith encinitas, ca
Lost a car key?
club lock on steering wheel

Lost a key to your Club (secondary steering wheel lock), locking wheel, lug nut or trailer hitch lock? Who ya gonna call?
Broken Keys stuck in the lock. The removal of a broken key takes patience, skill, and special tools.

Guess what? We have them.

All of the above problems can be traumatic, especially if you are in a hurry or are visiting from out of town. We are here to help you. The above problems are easy for us to resolve. This is one of the reasons we have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. (BBB Locksmith Encinitas) Don’t tow your car to your mechanic or to the dealer… let our mobile fleet come to your aid quickly and get you back on the road.

We can help with any lock problems,
call us FIRST with ANY questions.


  •  Lost or Broken Key Replacement

  • Car and Trunk Lock-Outs

  • Remote Fobs Replaced

  • “Laser Cut” Chip Keys Made

  • Broken Key Extractions

  • Lug Nut and Steering Wheel Locks

  • Sidewinder Keys

  • Worn Out or Vandalized Lock Replacement

  • Auto Locks Rekeyed to New Keys

  • Remote Fob Battery Replacements

  • After Market Alarms Disconnected

  • Tool Box and Cover Keys Made

  • Smart Key Programming

  • VATS-PATS Immobilizer Keys