Learn About The 4 Types Of Automotive Keys In Use Today
Unlike most of the components in a car, automotive key technologies did not evolve for decades, until security concerns, electronics, and the need for aesthetic differentiation compelled car companies to upgrade these symbols of ownership. Then and up to now, car keys were just slivers of metal that were used to unlock the car, activate the ignition circuit, and start the car. These days, practically all cars on the market also use the key fob to arm and disarm the anti theft system. High end cars also come with fobs that integrate other functions.
History of ignitions
Although generations past and present are used to twisting a car key to start the car and twist it again to stop the engine when one got to their destination, starting a car wasn’t always this convenient. In the early 1900s, one had to switch the ignition circuit on with the key and depress a starter button to make the engine run.
The convenience of using a single key to turn on the car’s ignition circuit and engage the starter only emerged in the early 1950s. Such an innovation was touted as a convenience and safety feature as one did not have to separately depress a starter button, and the absence of one prevented children from inadvertently causing an accident by activating it while the car was in gear.
But automotive keys have evolved with newly emerged technologies, and generally for the better. If all car keys were used for just starting the car, then a spring-loaded tumbler twisted by a flat metal (or even plastic) blade would do. But car key designs evolved due to security reasons and have thus become more and more sophisticated, with the newest fob designs having multiple functions and even displays.
Car Keys Today
Current automotive car keys come in 4 general varieties, namely standard keys, high security keys, transponder keys, and proximity remotes. Standard keys, as their name implies, are the traditional keys that come to mind when we talk of car keys. Although their designs have evolved through the years to accommodate more secure tumbler designs, they are still basically the notched designs similar in manufacture to keys that are used turn a tumbler to unlock a door lock, padlock, or car door. They are easily duplicated and offer virtually no security to modern, sophisticated car thieves.
It is worth noting that in 1986, GM introduced the VATS (Vehicle Anti Theft System) for the Corvette. Although sporting the same notched pattern as a standard key, a VATS key had a resistor embedded in the key blade. This resistor, having a possible 15 values, made it considerably harder for car thieves to steal a car, as it could lock down the starter, ignition, and fuel delivery systems on cars so equipped. The VATS system was superseded by transponder keys.
High security keys, also known as sidewinder keys are an evolution of the standard key. Thicker than standard keys, these laser-cut automotive keys feature a curved notch or valley on their sides and are not as easily duplicated as standard keys. Replicating a high security automotive key requires a laser-equipped cutting machine that only manufacturers and well-equipped professional key duplicators have access to.
With advances in electronics, manufacturers began to included a transponder in the key handle to vastly improve the vehicle’s anti theft properties. Because of its increased cost and sophistication, lower-priced cars are not provided such keys.
Currently, the most sophisticated key technology are proximity remotes. Also known as smart keys, proximity remotes are physically different in that they lack the notched or laser-cut metal blade that we have come to expect of automotive keys. Instead, proximity remotes contain a small battery, sensors, and microchips to communicate with a specific vehicle. They can be programmed to disarm the alarm and unlock the doors as the driver approaches. Car seat and mirror settings can also be programmed. Conversely, triggering the wrong signal can lock down the car and activate the alarm. Paradoxically, the proximity fob has made the start/stop button, regarded as an inconvenience then, a fixture once more in a vehicle’s dashboard.
Manufacturers boast that their systems use rolling codes to thwart car thieves. Unfortunately, hackers have proven time and again that sophisticated systems can be hacked and it probably is a matter of time before such technology becomes child’s play to defeat. For now though, proximity remotes are the state of the art in automotive key technology.
What if you lose one these more sophisticated high security or transponder keys, or a proximity remote? Dealer gouging is not an unknown practice, unfortunately. Luckily, the knowledge to duplicate these sophisticated automotive keys are not limited to dealers, so it would be a good idea to know how to contact a professional key duplicator if and when you do lose your key, or your high tech fob starts acting up.
The core of a car engine is usually the cylinder. Within the cylinder, there is a piston, which functions by moving up and down, thus compressing gas which ignites the car and eventually causing combustion. The exhaust gas is then pushed out after the combustion ultimately making the crankshaft rotate, resulting in the turning of the wheels and allowing a car to move. The auto cylinder head is located at the top of the cylinder, hence acts by closing the cylinder. It is then sealed by the head gasket, thus preventing leakages of the oil or coolant into the cylinder, hence limiting the generation of heat during the combustion process. Therefore when there is a problem with any part of the engine, that is, the auto cylinder head, the car cylinder or the head gasket, then the owner of the car should look for symptoms that indicate the part of the engine need repair such as leaking, misfiring and engine overheating.
Auto Cylinder Problems
There are so many things that possibly go wrong with the car cylinders. However, some of the common signs that predict a car auto cylinder problem include:
Odors: a strong odor that has a scent that is sweet and rubbery inside a car may indicate that there is a problem, in most cases; this smell is the coolant, which could be leaking into the cylinder.
Leaks: If a liquid puddle if found under the engine, then check the coolant levels. If the coolant lights are on as well in the car, this could point to an existing problem with the cylinder, such as cracks in the head gasket of the engine.
Smoke: This is the most common problem in various cars. If gray smoke is expelled from the exhaust pipe, it signals that the engine is heating up more than it really should.
Engine Misfires: Engine misfires are another example of an auto cylinder problem. Engine misfires occur when one or more cylinder fails. When this problem becomes serious, the driver will feel a heavy vibration and shaking of the engine. In most instances, various car owners bring the vehicles into an auto repair shop complaining about the timing of the engines. An engine misfire involves mistiming of the combustion event in the cylinder of the vehicle. There are three types of misfires:
Ignition Misfire: Ignition systems problems can lead to a misfire. Typical wear and tear over time, pistons, spark plugs and some parts of the engine, may ignite the air and fuel mixtures inside the chambers of combustion. During the onset of the misfires, the sparks will be weak, and the misfire may be subtle thus, overlooked. But as the ignition components wear off, the misfires intensifies, hence resulting in the interruption f the combustion process. As a resulting of all these, shock or a severe jerk in the engine operation could occur. Besides that, the engine could backfire, causing a very loud pop. In these cases, the combustion chambers of the ignition system need constant replacement so as to prevent wear and tear of components of the engine.
Lean misfires: A lean misfire is usually as a result of the plugged filter or faulty spark plugs. It is caused by the imbalance of the air to fuel ratio. Often, there is too much air in the engine and the levels of fuel being too lean. It, therefore, causes one or more cylinder to pass unburned fuels in the exhaust system, thus prohibiting the occurrences of the combustion. This problem is quite noticeable when the vehicle is idling such as the red light because engines need more fuel for a smooth idle.
Mechanical Misfire: sometimes mechanical problems can result in engine misfires. Old piston rings, crankshafts and cylinder walls are the most common types of mechanical misfires. This type of misfire brings about a thumping beat feel in the vehicle and gets worse as the speed of the engine increases.
If an owner of the vehicle notices any auto cylinder problems, then they should take the vehicle to the mechanic. The mechanic will hook up the car to a diagnostic computer so as to check and identify any problem experienced by the engine. The diagnostic tests are efficient, quick and relatively inexpressive. All the components of the engine need to be checked regularly so as to allow the vehicle to perform smoothly and operate correctly. Any problem of the engine needs repair and replacement so that the vehicle will continue working. By solving auto cylinder problems, your vehicle is able to work efficiently and with the expected standards.