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I-86 Truck & Auto Repair Car Talk: The Evolution Of The Car Key

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The key to your car is one of the smallest, yet most essential features of your car. In today's article we’re going to look at how the key has changed and advanced over the years.

Back when cars were first developed and then started being mass-produced, keys weren’t even part of the equation. You’d have to crank a lever that was connected to the engine just to get your auto to fire up, and that took strength and patience. This was the norm back then, but imagine having to start your vehicle like that every time you wanted to take a drive. Not my idea of convenient. (And it's easy to see why turn-of-the-century era bank robbers had to have an accomplice sitting in the getaway car with the engine running.

It wasn’t until 1949 that someone had the clever idea of using a key to start the engine. After painstaking engineering and testing, Chrysler was the first automotive company to furnish a key to start the ignition. Every car maker followed suit, but for years, the key remained virtually the same.  While vehicle manufacturers continued to add new features to their cars, the key was something that always seemed to be left out of the mix.

In the 90’s, one of the first updates was the addition of a chip (or transponder) inserted into the key that could communicate with the car’s computer. This allowed the car and key to be programmed together so the automobile couldn't start without the programmed transponder key.

This was a vital security breakthrough that prevented people from copying your key. This technology led to many other revolutionary automotive innovations. One disadvantage, however, is that if you lose a transponder key, you may have to sell your house to pay for a replacement.

Now that keys had chips in them that could communicate with the vehicle, auto manufacturers kept coming up with new twists on the concept. Most motorists can now lock and unlock their car with buttons on their key fob. Some raise the trunk lid. This is made possible by the transponder chip in the key. Cars with push-button start have chips and other technology in the key that allows you to start them just by having the key within the car.

Keys have progressed considerably and now in some of the latest high-end autos, you can use your phone to fire up the engine.

Will keys eventually be replaced by our smartphones? Who knows? But the possibilities are endless!

Even if you can't yet use your cell phone to fire up your motor, you can use it to call the auto experts at I-86 Truck & Auto Repair at 716-665-2501 to schedule an appointment when you are seeking unparalleled automotive service in Falconer.