gm key

Can a locksmith program a transponder key, or can only a dealer do it?

“A transponder key is an electrically programmed key that is linked to the computer inside of a vehicle. The chip inside of the key is read by the antenna signal around the ignition cylinder. The computer will respond to the key’s signal, and depending on whether or not the programming is compatible will determine the vehicle’s ability to operate.” -LPI Team


In most cases a locksmith is able to program a transponder key, but there are rare cases when a locksmith won’t be able to do it, usually because of dealer restrictions. In order for a locksmith to program the key they will need to have the necessary equipment. The more equipped the locksmith is, the more cars they will be able to cover.


How do you know if your key is a transponder key?


  1. Is the top of the key covered in plastic? If so, it is likely a transponder key (Although this is not true in all cases)
  2. Check the owner’s manual.
  3. Security light
  4. Often times a security light is shaped as a lock, a key, or in the letters SEC. This light is usually located somewhere on the dashboard. The light should flash every time the vehicle is started. If the programming in your transponder key is compatible with the computer of the vehicle, the light will go out.
  5. What is the make, model and year of the vehicle? Call a locksmith with this information, because a locksmith likely has the correct data base.


Why is a transponder key necessary?


  • Security (Anti-theft)
  • Dealership requirements



Transponder keys are designed to keep a vehicle from being hotwired. Dealerships use these keys in order to provide higher security to their customers.


Do you need to have a key in hand in order to have a new one programmed by a locksmith?

It is often assumed that because the key is programmed directly to a vehicle, only the specific dealership can replace a missing key. This isn’t true in most cases though. You don’t need to have a key in hand when requesting locksmith services. In most cases a locksmith will be able to program a new key using the vehicle alone. By contacting an LPI locksmith instead of a dealership, you will save quite a bit on service costs.


What if your key was stolen? Is it reprogrammed when a new key is made?

This type of service is available, however when a key is programmed to a vehicle it is not possible to reprogram the key itself. The computer inside of the vehicle is what needs to be addressed. The system will have to cleared, making all existing keys previously programmed to that vehicle, no longer operable. This is the best means for security of a vehicle. If you have questions, give LPI a call. They would be happy to assist you.


How long is the programming process, and are key cutting services included?

To program a transponder key, the process usually takes under 30 minutes. Yes, key cutting services are included.

Thank you so much for reading! Give us a call for any locksmith needs you may have.

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