New Locks for a New Home

Troubleshooting A Non-Responsive Transponder Key

by Alfredo Griffin

The new proximity-sensor transponder keys are great for convenience. You don't have to fumble with extra keys on your key ring or worry about inadvertently hitting the panic button when you try to unlock the doors. Unfortunately, with all of their benefits, those transponder keys also have a few idiosyncrasies that often catch new owners unaware. Here's a look at a couple of common reasons why your transponder may not be responding when you try to start your car.

Batteries Are Too Weak

Even if the batteries in the transponder have enough power to activate the little indicator lights, they may not have enough power to actually transmit the signal to your car. This is particularly true if the light seems a little bit dimmer than it usually is. The first, and often easiest, remedy to a non-responsive transponder is to change the battery. If this doesn't resolve the problem, there could be other causes.

The Transponder Lost Its Programming

Interference of many kinds can wipe the programming of the transponder. Whether it's an electromagnetic pulse or something similar, erasing that programming will render the unit non-functional. It won't be able to communicate with your car anymore because that connection will be severed. You'll have to have your dealer or a locksmith at a company like The Lock Shop reprogram the transponder to your car to restore its operation. This will cost you a service fee, so be prepared for that expense.

You Left The Key In The Car

Key transponders come with several safety features, some of which are not widely publicized. One such safety feature is activated when you leave your key sitting in the car undisturbed for too long. The timeframe will vary by key and manufacturer, but after a certain period of time, the transponder is automatically deactivated. It will not respond to the locks or the ignition in any way. It's a safety feature to reduce the risk of theft.

If you left the key sitting on the seat while you were doing something with the car, or the local service shop left it in the car while doing an oil change and other work, you may find that it stops responding. The good news is that you can fix this easily. Just take the transponder out of the car and leave it some distance away (such as on the kitchen counter) for a few hours. That will reset it and allow it to work again.