Car keys have come a long way since the days of heavy metal keys that did little more than open the doors and start the engine. They are now available in a range of forms and sizes, with innovative technology that provides comfort and style. There’s a vehicle key for every taste and budget, from the simple classic key to the advanced proximity key.
You’ve come to the right place if you’re wondering about the many varieties of car keys available. In this blog, we’ll look at 11 different types of car keys that are now in use, ranging from the common standard key to the advanced proximity key. We’ll go through their features, advantages, and disadvantages so you can make an informed decision about which vehicle key is best for you. Whether you’re a vehicle lover, a casual driver, or just curious to know about the newest car key technology, keep reading this blog to learn more.
1. Crankshaft car keys
These were the first keys that were used to connect the crankshaft to the gears that drive the other components of the engine. The key was inserted into a keyway cut, creating a secure connection that allowed the engine to start and operate smoothly.
- Relatively simple and inexpensive.
- Easy to install and remove.
- Easily breakable due to wear and tear.
- Not convenient to carry.
The crankshaft keys are relatively inexpensive and may cost a few dollars to around $50.
2. Traditional car keys
Traditional keys, or mechanical keys, are the most popular type of car keys and have been in use since automobiles were invented. They are basic, inexpensive, and straightforward to use. To start the automobile, you need a typical key, which is a little metal key that you place into the lock cylinder. It is the most basic type of car key and lacks additional capabilities such as a remote control or a transponder chip.
- Simple to use.
- Cheap to replace if lost or damaged.
- Don’t require any batteries or electronics to function.
- Reliable and long-lasting.
- They lack security.
- Easy to duplicate.
- They don’t offer any advanced features.
- Inconvenient for drivers to use.
The traditional keys are inexpensive and available in a price range of $5 – $20 depending on the make and model of your vehicle. However, if you lose it and need a car key replacement, you may have to pay extra for car key fob programming if it is attached to a fob. Else, it is the cheapest among the car keys used today.
3. Transponder car keys
Transponder or chip keys have an embedded transponder chip that communicates with your car’s software. The car’s computer system receives a unique signal from the key, and it then commands the signal unit to turn on the ignition. It is not a single type of key. Any car key that contains a transponder chip inside is called a transponder key.
- It has good security against car thefts.
- The embedded chip makes it difficult for anyone to duplicate it.
- Remote start and keyless entry are additional options.
- If you lose or damage it, you’ll have to pay hundreds of dollars to replace it.
- Car key fob reprogramming is time-consuming and costly.
- If the key malfunctions or the battery dies, you’ll not be able to start the car.
They cost anywhere from $50 to $200.
4. Valet car keys
A valet key is a type of car key designed to give access to limited car features without giving complete access to the vehicle. As the name suggests, they are often used by valets, mechanics, or anyone else who needs to access your car without being able to open its glove box or trunk. Valet keys typically have a limited range of functions and are designed to prevent unauthorized use of your car.
- Secure way to give temporary access to your car.
- Limit the range of features that can be accessed.
- Reduces the chances of car theft.
- Limited functionality.
- The keys can be easily lost or stolen.
The valet keys are usually provided free of charge when purchasing the vehicle. However, if you lose or damage it, you have to pay a fee to get a new replacement, and this depends on the model of your car.
5. Flip car keys
Also known as switchblade keys, this is a type of car key in which the key folds into the key fob for compact storage. When needed, you have to flip out the key from the fob. They are easy to carry and store.
- Compact and convenient to carry.
- They may include additional features like keyless entry and remote start.
- Less likely to break as they are designed to fold and be sturdier.
- More expensive than traditional keys because they are sturdier.
- If the key fob battery dies, you may not be able to use its features.
- Expensive to replace as the key is an integral part of the switchblade key.
The cost of a flip-style key is in the range of $50 to $300. It may cost extra if there is programming or if extra features are added.
6. Laser-cut keys
A laser-cut key is one that is cut with a laser mechanism instead of a traditional key-cutting machine. The cut is more precise and allows for complex key designs. Also known as sidewinder keys, they are commonly used in high-end cars.
- Complex design makes them difficult to duplicate.
- More durable and less likely to break or wear down.
- Paired with advanced security systems for an additional layer of car protection.
- More expensive.
- Difficult to duplicate if lost or damaged.
- Some locksmiths may not have the equipment to duplicate laser-cut keys, limiting your options for service.
Laser-cut keys cost anywhere between $150 and $500.
7. Sidewinder car keys
These are high-security keys with unique cuts that are difficult to duplicate without authorization. They have a distinctively shaped key blade with angled cuts on the sides. The key can be used for multiple functions of the vehicle, such as unlocking the door, starting the engine, and activating the alarm system.
- High-level security.
- Unique cuts are difficult to duplicate.
- Durable and long-lasting.
- Multi-functional key.
- Very expensive.
- Car key fob programming requires specialized software and tools.
- If the key blade is damaged, it may require you to replace the entire key rather than just the metal blade.
It may cost anywhere from $50 to $250, depending on the model of the car.
8. Tibbe car key
Tibbe keys are commonly used on Ford vehicles. They have a horizontal groove pattern on the blade that fits into a matching lock mechanism.
- High level of security.
- The unique pattern makes it hard to duplicate.
- They are made from sturdy materials.
- Limited availability due to its uniqueness.
- More difficult to replicate if they are lost or misplaced.
- More expensive than regular car keys.
They cost anywhere from $50 to $150 or more, depending on the Ford model.
9. Remote car key combo
The remote car key combo is nothing but a key fob with an attached key. They are an intermediary between smart keys and laser-cut keys. The fob is separate and not attached to the key. The key fob has a transponder chip and buttons to unlock doors, open the trunk, or activate/deactivate the panic alarm. The key is needed to start the ignition. You can also use the key to unlock or lock the car door.
- Even if the fob is not working, you can use the key for your car.
- Relatively inexpensive when compared to smart keys.
- Convenient for car owners to unlock doors.
- Bulky to carry.
- Pricier than mechanical keys.
Since you have two parts here, the key and the fob, the price depends on what has been lost or damaged. If the key is damaged, you may require an automotive locksmith service to get a duplicate made. If the fob is damaged, it can be bought separately.
10. Rolling code car key
Also known as code-hopping keys, these keys use a different technology than traditional car keys or smart keys. Rather than transmitting a fixed code to unlock the car, the rolling code car key uses an algorithm that generates a new unique code each time the key is used.
- Difficult for thieves to intercept or duplicate the codes.
- High level of security.
- Modern encryption technology.
- Emergency locksmith service options may be limited if you get locked out with this type of car key.
- Car key fob programming is more expensive than a simple key fob.
- Potential for malfunctioning.
On average, the cost of a rolling code car key can range from $100 to $500 or more.
11. Smart Keys
Smart keys, or proximity keys, are the most recent and technologically advanced type of car key. They interface with your car’s computer system to unlock the doors or start the engine without any human touch. The key uses radio frequency (RF) technology to connect with your vehicle remotely. Smart keys are an easy and safe method to unlock and start your vehicle.
- They are convenient.
- They open the car door automatically, without human contact.
- Additional features like remote start and power liftgate control.
- Secure as they use rolling codes to communicate with the car’s software.
- Difficult to hack or duplicate.
- They are expensive when you need a replacement.
- They require batteries to function.
- If the battery dies, you’ll not be able to unlock the car or start the engine.
- You may need a car unlock service if you accidentally lock the smart key inside the car.
Smart keys are very expensive, costing anywhere from $100 to $800. If you damage the key, you may have to pay additional fees for programming and automotive locksmith services.
So there you have it, 11 different types of car keys and their features, pros, cons, and pricing. With all these options, it’s important to understand which type of key your car uses and to choose the right one for your needs. Whether you need car key fob programming, car key replacement, or car unlock service, you can rely on Desert Locksmith to provide fast and reliable solutions.
Don’t let a lost or damaged car key ruin your day. Trust the experts at Desert Locksmith to get you back on the road in no time. Contact them today for all your locksmith services in Phoenix and the surrounding areas.