The difference between new smart keys and regular ignition key

In this brand new article we are going to talk about the evolution of the car keys, and what are the benefits of old and new style keys.
Just like every other electronic product on the market, car keys are getting more complex and smarter than ever before.


The standard car keys are the most popular, and we are all familiar with this type of vehicle. But their era is at the end, only a few manufacturers are still using key ignitions. Everyone knows how to stick the key in the ignition and start the car, but your kids most likely will not be familiar with that. The technology is changing every day, and big companies like Ford, General Motors, etc. are trying to keep up with the competition, that’s why they discontinued making cars with the standard ignition key.

traditional keys for Jeep made by Cobra Locksmith

The reason is not that they are not very secure, only a real locksmith can tell you how hard it is to make a key for a 1999 Camaro or for a 2018 Camaro. The older model is much more difficult even if someone will try to steal the vehicle, it will take them much longer plus you need the skills and knowledge. Every manufacturer uses its own type of keys, for example, Ford keys are different from GM. Gone are the days when keys are just cut metal.

Transponder chip key

Nowadays they all have transponder chips inside, which will communicate with the immobilizer antenna, for extra security. The anti-theft system was added to vehicles in the late 90s, and it had great success. Most of the cars on the market now have it and prevents burglary and it adds up great security for the vehicle. Many of our customers still prefer to use standard keys instead of the new ones, which we will discuss down below. The engineers also improved the security of the key by changing the style.

transponder key vs classic version for MINI Cooper

Edge cut and laser cut keys

The very first car keys were very easy to be duplicated, even if you don’t have a machine to cut it, then they made it more difficult. From single-sided to double-sided key, which became very popular and is still in production. Some companies added more cuts for extra security from 6 to 8, to 10 cuts on a key, that’s a lot of cuts, especially if you have to make a key from scratch.

There are thousands of different combinations, which makes our job sometimes very difficult and unique. Some of the top manufacturers use laser cut keys or also called high-security keys, which are different than the standard edge cut key. High-security keys require a special machine to cut it.

Remote keys

Remote keys became everyone’s favorite, the remote is built-in with the key all in one. Some of them are switchblades which makes the key even smaller.


Smart keys were presented in 1998 by Mercedes-Benz and they were originally named Keyless Go. This was a very big step, while some other automotive brands were still using metal keys. Some of the luxury cars started using similar to that idea keys. Much later other vehicle makes started using intelligent keys, which became the future of the keys.

There are many different styles of these electronic access systems. Mercedes introduced the plastic fob that you put in the ignition slot and twist it to start. This computerized fob is more complex than the transponder chip keys. The modern key fobs are working with radio waves, you can also find them as proximity key. There are many names you can find these electronic keys.

smart key example for cadillac escalade

The proximity function works without even taking the key from your pocket or purse. You literally just press the start button or twist the ignition knob and the car starts. Car manufacturers also put a small button on the door handles, with the proximity key in your purse all you need to do is to press that button and the door will unlock/lock if the key is in range.

Electronic keys disadvantages

We have tried to get together all possible cons:

  • price is much higher
  • they require batteries
  • easy to misplace
  • easy to damage
  • not waterproof


You may assume that these pros could be enhanced and supplemented:

  • modern look
  • makes your life easier
  • you can’t get locked out of your vehicle if the key is inside

If the fob is in the vehicle it communicates via radio waves, and you can’t really get locked out, which is one of our customer’s favorite future of their vehicle. Automobiles with push-to-start buttons are getting more popular and you can rarely see a new model with a key ignition. Some luxury vehicles even have LED key fobs with touch display.

And some manufacturers replaced the key fob with a smart card, so you can keep it in your wallet. Don’t need to take it out as long as you have your wallet in your pocket or close to you, you can unlock/lock the vehicle and start it as well by pressing the start button. Some of these smart keys hold data from the vehicle, and it updates every time you start the car, like the Mercedes key fobs.


A few years ago the keyless access was optional for the vehicle and more expensive, but today almost every single vehicle comes with that feature. If you are down to the last key, don’t wait until you lose it, that could cost you a fortune.

At Cobra Locksmith we specialize in automotive key replacement, give us a call to schedule an appointment. We can program any transponder or smart key if you have lost them all, or if you need to get a duplicate.

All texts and images are created by Cobra Locksmith LLC and cannot be copied without a permit.
We accept all major bank cards for easy and secure payments