How the Car Key Took Shape

January 17th, 2022 by

VW remote start and keys

Plus, How to Open the Door to Your Dream Car at a Volkswagen Dealer

When cars first hit the road in the early 1900s, you could only get your engine going with a hand crank. Even worse, hand cranks are very dangerous to use. That’s because once the spark plugs ignited the fuel to start the engine, the crank would often get thrown backward, crushing the driver’s hand.

Thank goodness the car key arrived on the scene to save our strength and our hands. From cranks to keyless entry, look at the history of the car key, and how a Volkswagen near you has taken this simple device to the next level.

The First Car Key Didn’t Do Much

Early car locks were designed as cylinder locks, which were very similar to locks used on house doors. They only locked the engine, but still required drivers to crank up the engine, which meant many people were still getting injured when they started their car.

Another problem with this kind of lock and key was that the shape was very mechanical and had no unique features like pin or wafer tumblers. Tumblers are a set of flat pins or wafers used in a lock to keep it from opening unless you have the right key. Without tumblers, keys were very easy to mass produce, but left vehicles extra vulnerable to thieves.

Fast Facts From Your Volkswagen Dealer: When someone tries to steal your vehicle, an Electronic Engine Immobilizer using coding software checks whether the right key is being used to start your car. The transponder in your key sends a special signal to your VW vehicle, so even if someone tries to make a perfect copy of your key, it still won’t work.

Push-to-Start – But Make It 1920s

Fortunately, a more modern ignition in the 1920s made it much easier to start your car. All you had to do was press a simple button, and your engine sprang to life. This made owning a car a lot easier, but didn’t stop unauthorized users from hopping in the driver’s seat and pushing start. For instance, a child could easily press start and injure themselves in a moving vehicle.

It wasn’t until 1949 that starter buttons were replaced by key starter switches, which remained the only way to start your car until 1998, when luxury vehicle manufacturers introduced keyless entry and start.

Fast Facts From Your Volkswagen Dealer: Looking for a seamless entry into your vehicle? Then search no further than a new Volkswagen near you! With your key fob nearby, you can unlock the door by simply putting your hand in the driver’s side handle area. If you want to learn more about the incredible tech in our VW vehicles, contact a Volkswagen service center, or schedule a test drive at VW Lee’s Summit!

The 1970s Created One Key to Unlock It All

The 60s saw little, but important, evolution in the car key. Instead of having pins or wafers on one side of the key, car manufacturers produced keys with them on both sides. That way, you could insert your key into the ignition either way up. However, you still needed two sets of keys- one for your ignition and one to unlock your doors.

The 1970s rolled around with a key that could both start your vehicle and unlock the doors. This is the time where drivers saw sidewinder or laser-cut keys, which have a unique winding cut on the metal part. Standard keys, like the one for your house, have the usual straight grooves and jagged cut edge, where a sidewinder key can have smooth edges.

Fast Facts From Your Volkswagen Dealer: Did you know keyless entry is available on most used Volkswagens? In fact, you can find this feature on 2017 Beetles, Golfs, Jettas, and Tiguans. Many models also have push-button start. Just look for Certified Pre-Owned Volkswagens at used car dealerships near you.

Mainstream Keyless Entry Stole the Show in the 90s

The history of remote entry capable of locking and unlocking your car is unclear, but the tech is certainly in every newer vehicle on the road. One of the first appearances of a remote keyless system was in 1980, but it didn’t use modern key fobs. Instead, it used a keypad with five buttons that needed a special code to unlock your door. Eventually, this tech was replaced by the more favorable handheld key fob.

By the late 1990s, nearly every new vehicle on the market had a keyless entry system. The exact way your keyless entry works varies by make and model. For example, you may need to manually press a button to unlock your car, or you might have a keyless entry that senses your key is within a certain range and unlocks automatically.

Fast Facts From Your Volkswagen Dealer: You can replace a lost key fob or key at your Volkswagen service center. An expert orders a new key using your VIN (vehicle identification number), cuts the key, and manually programs your vehicle’s computer to accept the replacement.

What’s New for Car Keys in 2022? Find Out by Asking a Volkswagen Dealer!

If you want to see the latest technology in keyless entry, remote start, and infotainment, then schedule a test drive at VW Lee’s Summit. We have the latest Volkswagen models and the best Certified Pre-Owned vehicles at our new and used car dealership near you. Even better, we sell VW accessories and offer incredible specials on our Volkswagens.

Call us today at (816) 841-7253 or contact us online to get behind the wheel of a new or used Volkswagen. Don’t forget to talk to our Volkswagen dealers about financing and our College Grad Bonus Program!

Posted in Volkswagen News