The evolution of car keys

Car keys have evolved over the years, Watford Car Keys have put together a short history of the development of car keys.

Basic flat steel keys

The first car keys were just basic flat steel keys, single-sided, much like domestic house keys. which were easy to duplicate and obviously had no electronic security in them.

Watford Car Keys – evolution of car keys

Double-sided steel car keys

Then came double-sided steel keys which were very similar but just had cuts on both sides, this added to the security of the lock.  

Watford Car Keys – evolution of car keys, double sided car keys

Laser car keys

Then came laser keys, harder to pick, more durable and more expensive to make, locksmiths had to purchase a separate key-cutting machine for these keys and as such the cost went up slightly.

Watford Car Keys – laser car keys

Transponder car keys

Then came transponder keys, which now needed electric equipment to produce a working key, as well as the laser key cutting machines.

Each key although just looks like a plain key has a transponder chip inside the head of the key, holding the security information of the car’s immobiliser system, making it impossible for the car to be started without the chip present.

These chips were made compulsory in every new car from 1996 but a few manufacturers had this technology prior.

Then came encrypted chips +  rolling code with half the code in the key and half the code in the ignition, making it harder to copy the security information.

Watford Car Keys – transponder car keys

Flip button remotes car key

Then came the more modern flip button remotes, which you are all probably more familiar with.

higher remote costs because of circuit boards, components buttons and batteries.

The early remotes had what’s known as a manual programming process, which means no extra diagnostic equipment was required to sync to the vehicle.

Watford Car Keys – flip button car keys

Automatic remote car keys

Then comes automatic remotes, which look similar to the remotes prior however the remotes cannot be programmed to the car manually as they have the immobiliser chip on the circuit meaning the remote and chip are programmed at the same time.

More diagnostics equipment had to be purchased to programme the immobiliser chip and remote at the same time.

The costs of the remotes went up along with the price of the equipment.

Watford Car Keys – automatic remote car keys

Dash/slot and proximity keys

Then came along dash/slot and proximity keys, even more diagnostic equipment is required to precode the key before programming it to the vehicle.  Dealer keys can get to £700 before programming at this point.

Watford Car Keys – dash / slot & proximity car keys
Watford Car Keys – dash / slot & proximity car keys
Watford Car Keys – dash / slot & proximity car keys

Smartphone app car keys

Car companies now have an app on the phone acting as a key, bypassing the physical key and locks altogether.

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