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Evolution of car keys.

What was the beginning of car keys how did they operate and how they have changed over the


Before 1998 in the UK and other countries alike car keys were just normal average metal casted keys

and were very similar in appearance to an average house key. There was nothing fancy or expensive

with these keys other than various car manufacturers putting their twist on the keys by integrating

their logo and designs into the keys to make them look more attractive. Other than that the keys

were pretty basic in terms of functionality and looks. On the earlier keys there were only cuts on one

side on the keys again same to the common house key but at a later stage they came with cuts on

both sides of the key. How these keys would work is you would simply insert the key in the door turn

to unlock then insert the key in the ignition and simply turn to start. There was no fancy electrics,

ignition coils, alarms, etc which put these cars at a weak point and left the cars prone to theft.

After the year 1998 the keys along with the cars were introduced and fitted with the now common

immobiliser system. How this would work is similar to the old metal casted keys you would unlock

the door and put key in to start it was simple to use but the technology now used was far from it.

These keys were made normally with a plastic/rubber head integrated in the heads of the keys laid

small electronic chip/transponder. When the key is inserted into the ignition the coil around the

ignition would detect and read the chip/transponder imbedded in the key and would extract the

code which is stored in the chip/transponder the coil would receive it and transmit the code stored

in the key to the ECU (Engine Control Unit) were the key data is stored. Once the code in the key is

matched with the code stored in the ECU the car would then start. Also if you was just to get a

normal key cut witch had no chip/transponder programmed to the car and tried to start the car it

wouldn’t the car would only crank or turn but would not start due to the transponder being missing

or not being programmed to the car.

After the standard keys with transponders were introduced remote control keys came along. Central

locking were on some earlier cars usually on the more high end cars but may or may not include the

chip/transponder. The remote keys had various styles one would be a round fob separately attached

to the key. Another would be the remote being integrated in the key with the remote

chip/transponder and blade all in one. At a later stage flip keys were in production again with

remote chip/transponder and blade all in one the only main difference would be that instead of the

metal key blade being fixed in place and permanently exposed you now were able to press a button

to then expose the metal key blade. How the remote keys would work is by pressing a button of

your choice on the key/fob the key would then emit a frequency to a module in the car and the

module would tell the car to lock/ unlock etc.

Next up are dash keys these keys remove the aspect of having a metal key to do any work in the car

at all. How these keys would work is you would unlock the car by pressing unlock on the key then

once inside instead of putting the key in a classic metal bodied ignition and turning to start you

alternatively put your key in a slot in the car and put your foot on the brake and push the key while

in the slot to start some you would put the key in the slot put your foot on the brake then there

would be a separate button to press to start. These keys are normally rectangular and made up of

metal/plastic and have a hidden emergency key in the key in case the battery was to die you would

be able to unlock the door manually by inserting the key into the lock in the door. In conjunction

with dash keys there are similar keys witch again remove the classic metal bladed keys. How these

keys would work is again unlock the car using the key insert the key into the ignition witch is not the

usual metal bodied ignition again and instead is a plastic cased ignition witch consists of mostly

electrical components witch work with the key and allow it to start once turned to fire.

Finally the keys that are up to date and used on many cars today. These are smart keys/keyless entry

how these keys work are by simply by putting them in your pocket and then walk up to the car.

Either press a button on the handle and pull or simply just pull the handle and the car will unlock.

Once inside you would put your foot on the brake push a button and the car will start. There is no

need for you to make contact with your key at all.

Need our assistance? Call 0114 258 1238

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