If your car was manufactured in the past decade or so, there's a good chance that it comes with transponder key technology. What does that mean? Basically, a car with a transponder key contains an electronic chip that syncs to the car's engine when it's first built. From that point on, only a transponder key that's synced to the car's engine will be able to start the car. This reduces the chances of a vehicle being stolen, so many vehicle owners with transponder keys enjoy lower auto insurance rates.
Having a car with transponder keys can be pain, however, if you ever lose your keys. That's because transponder keys aren't easily duplicated.
How to Obtain a New Transponder Key
Generally, the best way to obtain a new transponder key is to visit the dealership from which you brought the vehicle. If that dealership is no longer open or you've moved since, however, you can also visit a dealership that services your vehicle manufacturer. You'll just need to bring your title or purchase order along with you so that the dealership can verify the vehicle belongs to you. From there, they'll create the key for you and may even be able to program it.
Of course, dealership transponder keys tend to be a bit more expensive than obtaining such a key from a local locksmith. If you're looking to save money and don't mind programming your own key, this might be a better option. After all, you can typically get a transponder key from a locksmith (such as The Lock Shop) for around $95, as opposed to the $150 or more you'd pay at most dealerships.
How to Program a New Transponder Key
If you choose to go the latter route, the good news is that programming a new transponder key isn't too difficult. Simply start by inserting the new key into your car's ignition and switching it to the "on" position. If you were given two new keys, make sure you remove the first one and insert the other one within 10 seconds. You'll also want to turn the second key to "on."
Next, remove the second key and replace it, once again, with the first key within 10 seconds, turning it to the "on" position yet again. At this point, the red security light within your car should turn on. Once it stays on for a few seconds, remove the key from the ignition. Both keys should now be programmed, but double-check to be sure!