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Car Key Types. What Is The Difference

There’s a huge number of car keys nowadays. And there is an unspoken competition between car keys. Which of them is truly the best? Which one gives you security the owners of the other car keys can only dream of? Sure Lock & Key provides automotive locksmith services for more than 35 years, so we’re no stranger to any car key type that exists. And here we’re sharing this knowledge with you. Keep reading!

The Most Common Car Keys Types

Car manufacturers trying to invent the best one provided us with different options. The list of car keys is really impressive. Here you can check the most common ones.
  • Keyfob
  • Mechanical car key
  • Remote car key
  • Transponder car key
  • Switchblade car key
  • Valet car key
Each of them has its features, each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. So, let’s speak about each car key type a little bit more.


Let’s start with the most common car key type today. Becoming so popular in the last two decades, key fobs actually have a long history. First introduced in the 1980s, it has developed and improved hugely during that time. So, now you can open and even start your car from a distance. How does it work? Your car is equipped with a special receiver, and your key, in its turn, is equipped with a special transmitter. So, every time you push the button, the key sends a coded signal, and the door closes or opens. Being a piece of technically advanced machinery, it needs a careful attitude. It mustn’t be exposed to moisture, too high or too low temperature, and to direct sunlight. Also, notice that the keys of this type run on batteries, so you will need to change them from time to time.
key fob
key fob

Mechanical Car Key

Probably, when you hear the word “key”, you’re thinking about a mechanical key. Being used for the older cars, they become rarer nowadays. From the late 1990s car manufacturers quit providing their cars with this key type. Mechanical car keys aren’t expensive in exploitation, they don’t require reprogramming, battery changings, etc. Also, you won’t pay a fortune to get a new mechanical key cut. But the security it gives is inferior to that you can get using a more modern key.

Remote Key

Sometimes people mix up keyfobs and remote keys, but there’s a significant difference between these two types of car keys. A remote key is a device you use not only to unlock or lock your car by pushing a button but also to open the door manually. That means that a remote key includes the actual key. Except for that, remote keys are similar to keyfobs. You should protect your remote key from moisture and heat and use it carefully.
remote car key
remote car key

Transponder Car Key

Transponder car keys are more similar to the traditional keys we got used to. Looking like a standard mechanical key with a plastic shell on its top, a transponder key is a technically advanced device as well. Every time you insert it into ignition, it sends a coded signal, and the car starts. Also, there’s another, even more advanced version of this key. A rolling key sends a new signal every time you use your car, so the security level increases.
The precautions against damage are the same. Protect your key from moisture, heat, don’t store it with objects which may damage it, etc.
Transponder Car Key
Transponder Car Key

Switchblade Car Key (Flip Style Car Key)

Switchblade car keys are the same as the keys described above, except for their design, which made this type one of the most popular nowadays. It contains a blade key that pops up once you push the button. Being a compact device, a flip style key is easy and convenient to store in your pocket, bag, or even in your wallet.
Switchblade Car Key
Switchblade Car Key

Valet Car Key

As you probably guessed, these keys were designed specially for valets. This is like a spare key with limited functions you can give to get your car parked. Not all the cars are equipped with these keys. Not having a valet key doesn’t mean you need it. On the contrary, lots of car owners think that the situations when you can use it are limited.


As you can see, all car keys have lots of advantages, all of them are designed to be durable and serve you as long as possible, but unfortunately, each of them can break, be damaged, lost or stolen. That’s when you need automotive locksmith services to fix it quickly and efficiently.

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