Types of Car Keys

Different cars come with different car keys.

Some more sturdy and reliable than others, they are the primary safeguard solution against vehicle theft. An experienced locksmith recognizes at least six types of car keys – how they are crafted, what tools are involved in making replacements, and how dependable they are.

Here’s our cheat sheet to help you understand each:

VAT Keys

VAT stands for Vehicle Anti-Theft and guarantees utmost security.

More than a specific type of car key, VAT is an upgrade that can be added to the blade of any key. The technique relies on custom-made chips with unique codes that prevent VAT keys from being duplicated by a third party. This is their blessing and their curse.

The problem with VAT keys is that they cannot be replaced if stolen or lost. Transponder machines can only replicate the chips used in factory issued transponder keys, and locksmiths are usually helpless when it comes to retrieving chip codes from records.

Smart Car Keys

Smart tech is everywhere, including in both cars and car keys.

Being safe and convenient, this type of car keys allows drivers to access their vehicles remotely, to open and close doors or even start ignition. But just like VAT keys, they are quite difficult to duplicate – the only tested and proven method is complicated code duplication.

Valet Keys

There’s no headache with valet keys, as they can be easily replaced.

Some valet keys have a remote open and lock option like smart keys, but that’s not their distinctive feature. This unique type of car keys is common among professional drivers. It is intended to be used by valets to open, start, and park other people’s cars.

Unlike master keys, valet keys don’t give access to other locks within a vehicle. They can unlock the driver’s door and start the car, but they cannot open glove compartments, trunks, or deck locks. Being pretty simply by design, they’re easy to duplicate too.

Laser Cut Car Keys 

In locksmith lingo, a laser cut key is also known as a sidewinder key.

It can be recognized by laser-cut patterns and ridges on both sides. Sidewinder keys are very secure and cannot be replaced or duplicated by just about anyone. The process is complex and requires a special internal cutting machine that only locksmiths can operate.

Transponder Keys

Transponder keys are currently the most popular type in the industry.

They also rely on coded chips to add another layer of security around a vehicle, but they’re not as problematic as VAT keys. Instead of fitting into a lock hole, they open the door and start the car after the vehicle’s unique code matches the transponder key microchip.

Due to this unique code-chip match, transponder keys must be duplicated or replaced using special tools. They give registered locksmiths access to code databases provided by leading car brands, after which a new chip can be made and installed into a replacement key.  

Mechanically Cut Keys

The days of good old mechanical keys seem to be gone for good.

Though less experienced drivers are still using them, these keys are notoriously risky in terms of car security. They can be replaced and duplicated by a basic cutting machine from Home Depot, which officially renders them useless as a vehicle security solution.

As a locksmith, you’re allowed to play favorites. But when it comes to car security, some keys are simply better than others. And if you’re in need of any car locksmith services, reach out to 24/7 London Locksmith today!

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