how can I test a transponder key without going to the dealer? - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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Old 09-29-2014
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how can I test a transponder key without going to the dealer?

Is there any way to see if my key is still transmitting the signal to the PATS? Does anyone but the dealer have a way? I am so pissed at Ford right now I do not ever want to give them another dime, so if there is another way, I would sure like to know what it is.
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Old 09-29-2014
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Yes, just put it in the ignition switch and turn the key on, see what anti-theft light does, or try to start engine and see if it does.

The PATS system uses RFID tags embedded in the key, these require no power and unless the plastic end of the key is physically damaged they will always work.

Around the ignition key slot is a "ring", they call it a wand, but it is an antenna, this antenna is connected to the PATS module, usually located above the glove box on Rangers.

When key is inserted the PATS module sends out an RF signal via this "ring", that burst of power will give the RFID tag just enough power to respond(send out it's unique ID number).
The "ring" picks up that ID number via the PATS module.

On some PATS systems the ID codes are stored in the PATS module on others the ID Codes are in the PCM(computer).

In any case the ID number from the key is compared to the List of IDs in memory, if found the vehicle will start if not found it won't.
Some PATS disable the spark and fuel only so engine will crank but not start, other disable the starter as well as spark and fuel.

The PATS module and PCM are a "matched set" if one of these needs to be replaced then they need to be re-matched, this requires the Ford Programmer and a subscription to the Ford data base.

Many Locksmiths now have the correct software and can added PATS keys to the system.

You can get hand held RFID tag readers, RFID tags are a popular for inventory control.
With one of these you could check if your RFID tag is working

And some Locksmiths may also have these, this allows them to "clone" an RFID key.
They read the RFID tag number with the reader and then "write" that number to a blank RFID tag embedded in a key, then cut the key for your door lock/ignition switch.
So you now have two keys with the same RFID number.
This can be less expensive than adding new RFID tags to the PATS.
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