Transponder Keys: What to Do When Problems Arise

Remote keyless systems have been available in the United States since 1982. From then until now, dead transponder batteries have officially been an issue. Today, they are used to not only to unlock doors, but to locate the vehicle and ignite the engine. So when the battery dies on the portable transponder device, there are three or more problems to deal with.

Unless the transponder in question has a battery life indicator, the only way to find out is noticing the tell-tale signs of charge depletion. Owners may notice that it takes increasingly more attempts pressing the button to activate the receiver. Although the activation light on the transponder lights up, there is not an immediate answer from the remote keyless system in the car. The range of signal transmission will gradually shorten into nothing as the battery gives less and less output, making it steadily more difficult to find the vehicle in a parking lot. Though most of the time people put the obvious problem off until it’s too late. In such cases it can be prudent to simply contact local service providers in your local area, for instance Mableton Locksmith GA.   

What is a transponder?

For those unfamiliar with the concept, transponder is a blended word. It comes from mixing ‘responder’ together with ‘transmitter’. They communicate with the radio signal receivers in the vehicle by emitting electro-magnetic waves at the frequency of about one hundred and twenty five kilo Hertz. Manufacturers use this form of transmission because it can pass through physical objects such as other cars in a parking lot. The waves sent out are encoded by programmers to give a unique message that unlocks the car. This is the same process that opens an email account with a password.

Newer versions of remote keyless entry systems can do much more than open doors. They can activate alarm systems, adjust modular inboard devices like air conditioning and turn on lights. The next generation of these devices take the form of applications on smartphones. This method however, relies on satellite based internet networks and can be interrupted by atmospheric conditions or network technical problems. The electromagnetic emitting transponder devices do not suffer from these problems and will probably continue to be found on the market. High end versions include the infrared transponders found in some Mercedes Benz models.

Generating an electromagnetic field, even for a short pulse, is taxing on a battery. Sending waves of electricity and magnetism through the air we breathe at a strong enough level to reach the receiver takes electrical charge. There is only so much electrical charge that can be held in a battery that has been made to fit in pockets.  This may explain why they run out so often, and at the worst possible times.

Car dealerships in Mableton, Georgia sometimes offer transponder battery replacement services as part of the vehicles warranty deal. YouTube has libraries of videos dedicated to tutorials on replacing empty transponder batteries. If attempting self-service maintenance, take extra care to note the model number of the car, remote keyless entry system, and transponder before moving forward. And then, you are putting your trust in open source internet videos for technical problems, which does not always turn out well. If gambling with your means of transportation is too much- you may consider experienced locksmith experts, such as a licensed locksmith in Mableton Locksmith GA, as they do not need to sift through online guides to solve these matters.

An additional benefit of enlisting professionals that deserves mention is that they can quickly diagnose exactly where the problem lies. When one piece of the system is not functioning properly, it appears as though the whole mechanism has broken down. Locksmiths could tell right away whether it was the physical lock on the car door or the electronic components. Beyond that they could test the signal receiver to rule out receiver system malfunctions. They might find that the car’s ignition battery has drained, saving time and an expensive tow to the repair shop with just some jumper cables. In some cases, the whole locking structure will have frozen up entirely because there had been an attempt to hack the security system remotely.
Remote hacking has grown right alongside these new technologies in an arms race of sorts. Thieves have less chance of being caught trying to break into cars when they use their own “pirate” transponders from far away. Traditionally, the tried and true method of car theft involved the hazardous task of physically breaking doors or picking locks before manually rewiring the ignition from the inside. The short time frame that it takes to press a button from across a parking lot is phenomenal when compared to the sixty or so seconds needed to do it the old fashioned way. Hackers are getting better at the process daily; starting engines and disabling alarms with their fob generators. Fob is a code or algorithm that acts as the digital key to the vehicles electronic locks.

What are you supposed to do?

To counter these inventive new theft approaches, Georgians are keeping up with evolving security measures. Your local locksmith should be up to date on available upgrades to existing electronic vehicle theft prevention systems. State licensed professionals are always the best route if the decision to get qualified services has already been made. They may even show how to perform a battery replacement on your own in the future. It is possible that they could even offer some useful life hacks to tackle common transponder problems. A certified locksmith could also tell you if you had a transponder that charges when in the ignition, if you weren’t totally sure before.

The world of electronic and digital security systems is getting so advanced, so quickly that casual do-it-yourselfers are being pushed out or left behind. Simple battery replacements or charges can turn into entire device replacements as parts get smaller and easier to damage in regular maintenance. When it doubt, talk with a locksmith about transponder key problems.