It may come as no great surprise to anyone that in this day and age of technology that more recently produced cars are more secure than ever. After all, thieves have been stealing cars for as long as cars have been around.
Prior to 2001, Australia had one the highest vehicle theft rates in the western world, and in an effort to bring this figure down AS4601 was introduced, which specifies the use of an engine immobiliser system. This has significantly reduced the instances of automotive theft and for the most part reports of theft are now regarding vehicles produced before 2001.
While theft is down, the unfortunate sacrifice is the increase in cost for vehicle keys. This is largely due to the increased expense for locksmiths and car dealerships alike to keep up with the changes in technology. Not only are most cars these days using a high security keying system but also engine immobilisers in order to deter thieves.
Toyota immobiliser key systems are one of the most secure systems on the Australian market. Most customers end up having to get their vehicle towed to a local dealership. There the dealership will install a new ECU (engine control unit), which allows for them to provide you with a complete solution for your lost keys. The dealership’s pricing varies by model, but usually runs from $2000-$5000.
Of course your humble locksmith is doing his best to keep up with technology, after all it’s our job to cater to the unfortunate members of the public who lose their keys. A locksmith can help you to save a good bit of money, because we don’t simply install a new ECU we reset the existing one. We do not simply put new door and ignition barrels in (at the vehicle owner’s expense). We re-key the existing one’s.
Here a few good reason to contact an automotive locksmith when you have lost car keys:
1. No towing cost
2. No cost of a new ECU
3. We can offer after market transponder keys at better prices than dealer original keys
4. It is cheaper to recode a barrel than to supply and install new ones
5. In most vehicles the missing keys can be deleted from the system and new keys programmed in using on-board diagnostic equipment
Of course your local key cutting kiosk cannot offer a solution for lost car keys but they can duplicate your immobiliser key in most cases. This is a process of emulating or cloning your current key. This means that your vehicle does not know the difference between your original key and the copy from your key cutting kiosk. A clone key uses batteries which have a life of about 4-5 years (assuming that the key hasn’t sat on the key hook for a year already). Imagine losing your original and thinking great I’ve still got that spare I had cut at the shops 3 years ago, only to find out that the non-replaceable battery is dead and all you have is a key to open the door, but not start the car. This is why most locksmiths choose to program a new immobiliser key into the vehicle, this way the vehicle recognizes both keys. Both keys will also last for the life of the vehicle since a real transponder key does not use a battery.
If you are buying a post-1996 vehicle, I would highly recommend ensuring that you receive two keys for your vehicle. If it is a post-1996 Toyota you are purchasing make sure that those two keys both have black heads and not gray ones. Gray Toyota keys are Valet keys and cannot be used to add new keys to the immobiliser system. Black Toyota keys are Master keys and can be used to add spare immobiliser keys, often the vehicle owner can do this themselves. It is also far cheaper to take your vehicle to a locksmith while you have one key than it is to call a locksmith to come to your location when you have no keys. The moral of the story is to always make sure you have at least two keys for your vehicle at all times; maybe, one for your wife or partner and one for yourself.