Do Subaru Keys Have Chips: Everything You Need to Know

Key Takeaways

  • Subaru keys have chips, also known as transponders, that communicate with the car’s immobilizer system to ensure that only authorized keys can start the vehicle.
  • The first Subaru key with a chip was introduced in 1998, and since then, all Subaru models have come equipped with transponder keys.
  • Subaru transponder keys offer excellent security benefits, but they can be costly to replace if lost or damaged.

Introduction

If you own a Subaru vehicle, you may have wondered whether your car key contains a chip. The answer is yes, all Subaru keys have chips, which play a crucial role in ensuring the security and safety of your vehicle. In this article, we will take a closer look at Subaru keys with chips, including their history, working mechanism, benefits, and drawbacks.

The History of Subaru Keys with Chips

Subaru was one of the first car manufacturers to introduce transponder keys, also known as chip keys, to their vehicles. The first Subaru key with a chip was introduced in 1998, and since then, all Subaru models have come equipped with transponder keys.

Before transponder keys, car keys were simple metal objects that could be easily replicated. However, this made vehicles vulnerable to theft, as anyone with a copy of a car key could gain access to and start the vehicle. To address this issue, car manufacturers like Subaru began incorporating transponder keys into their vehicles.

How Do Subaru Keys with Chips Work?

Subaru keys with chips contain a small electronic chip, also known as a transponder, that communicates with the car’s immobilizer system. When you insert the key into the ignition, the car’s immobilizer system sends a signal to the transponder, which then sends a unique code back to the immobilizer system. If the code matches the one stored in the car’s memory, the immobilizer system allows the engine to start.

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The use of transponder keys makes it virtually impossible for thieves to steal a vehicle by hot-wiring it, as the car’s immobilizer system will only allow the engine to start if it recognizes the unique code sent by the transponder.

Types of Subaru Keys with Chips

There are two types of Subaru keys with chips: mechanical cut keys and laser cut keys.

Mechanical cut keys are the traditional keys that we are all familiar with. They have ridges and valleys cut into the blade of the key, which match the tumblers in the lock cylinder. When the key is inserted into the lock, the tumblers align with the ridges on the key, allowing it to turn and unlock the door or start the engine.

Laser cut keys, on the other hand, are cut by a laser and have a different type of blade. They have a flat, rectangular shape with a series of small, closely spaced markings along the edge of the blade. When the key is inserted into the lock, the laser-cut markings align with the tumblers, allowing the key to turn and unlock the door or start the engine.

Laser cut keys are more precise and offer better security than mechanical cut keys, as they are more difficult to duplicate. However, they are also more expensive to replace if lost or damaged.

Benefits of Subaru Keys with Chips

Subaru keys with chips offer several benefits, including:

  • Increased security: Transponder keys make it much more difficult for thieves to steal your vehicle. Even if they manage to get into your car, they won’t be able to start the engine without the unique code sent by the transponder.

  • Convenience: With a transponder key, you don’t have to worry about carrying around multiple keys for your car. You can also easily lock and unlock your car with the touch of a button on the key fob.

  • Remote start: Many Subaru models come equipped with remote start capabilities, allowing you to start your car from a distance. This is especially useful in cold weather, as you can warm up your car before you even step inside.

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Drawbacks of Subaru Keys with Chips

While Subaru keys with chips offer many benefits, there are also a few drawbacks to consider:

  • Cost: If you lose or damage your transponder key, it can be costly to replace. Depending on the make and model of your Subaru, a replacement key can cost anywhere from $50 to $300 or more.

  • Limited availability: Not all locksmiths or dealerships have the equipment necessary to program a new transponder key. This can make it difficult to find a replacement key if you lose yours.

  • Battery life: The battery in your transponder key will eventually run out and need to be replaced. While this is a relatively simple process, it can be inconvenient if it happens unexpectedly.

Tips and Tricks for Subaru Keys with Chips

To get the most out of your Subaru key with a chip, consider the following tips and tricks:

  • Keep your key in good condition: As with any key, it’s important to keep your Subaru key with a chip in good condition. Avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures or moisture, and keep it away from other electronic devices that could interfere with its signal.

  • Have a spare key: To avoid the hassle and expense of replacing a lost or damaged key, it’s a good idea to have a spare key on hand. This could be a mechanical cut key or a transponder key, depending on your needs.

  • Replace the battery as needed: If you notice that your key fob isn’t working as well as it used to, it might be time to replace the battery. Check your owner’s manual for instructions on how to replace the battery, or take your key to a dealership or locksmith.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to replace a Subaru key with a chip?

The cost of a replacement Subaru key with a chip can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. In general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $300 or more for a replacement key. Keep in mind that you may also need to pay for programming and cutting fees, which can add to the overall cost.

Can I replace a lost Subaru key with a non-chip key?

While it is possible to replace a lost Subaru key with a non-chip key, this may not be the best option. Without a transponder key, your vehicle will not have the same level of security, and it may be more susceptible to theft. Additionally, if your car requires a transponder key to start, you won’t be able to start the engine with a non-chip key.

Can a locksmith program a new Subaru key with a chip?

Not all locksmiths have the equipment necessary to program a new Subaru key with a chip. However, many locksmiths specialize in automotive keys and may be able to help you. You can also take your key to a Subaru dealership for programming.

Conclusion

Subaru keys with chips are an important part of your vehicle’s security system. By understanding how they work and how to care for them, you can ensure that your key continues to work properly and protect your vehicle from theft. Keep these tips and tricks in mind to get the most out of your Subaru key with a chip, and don’t hesitate to reach out to a locksmith or dealership if you have any questions or concerns.

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Peter Banks

With years of experience as a professional mechanic and Subaru specialist, Peter is one of the most respected members of our team. He's written several articles on Subaru maintenance and repair, and his advice and tips are always practical and helpful. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys cooking and trying out new recipes.

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