One of the best anti-theft technologies developed by car manufacturers is the Sentry Key Immobiliser Module, or SKIM for short.
What are SKIMs?
A SKIM key is a programmed key that carries a unique code for each vehicle. It cannot be used to start any other car. If somebody uses a key carrying the same pattern as your car key to start your car, it will not work. The vehicle might start, but it will automatically turn-off after two seconds if the key used does not carry the correct code.
SKIMs come installed in SKIS, or Sentry Key Immobiliser Systems, and act as the brain of the SKIS. These security-enhancing car parts first started appearing in vehicles back in 2005, featuring in minivans such as the Chrysler Town and Dodge Caravan variants.
The anatomy of a SKIM key is pretty simple, yet technologically very advanced compared to traditional car ignition systems. The most critical component is the microprocessor, which contains and processes the code assigned to the vehicle. This code is transmitted to the car via a radio frequency transceiver through a tuned antenna.
There is no way to deactivate a SKIM from a vehicle, so you can only operate it by using the SKIM key associated with it. In case you insert a SKIM key that has not been programmed for your vehicle, the vehicle will shut down after two seconds of ignition.
How does SKIM work?
When you insert a correct SKIM key, the computer system embedded in your vehicle sends out an RF signal to the key's transponder. Then the key is responsible for returning a unique message to the computer, confirming that it is authorised for use with this particular vehicle.
Although it might sound like this entire process takes some time, it actually occurs in a fraction of a second. In fact, you will not notice any difference in ignition times between a traditional key and a SKIM key.
Can you register new keys?
Each SKIM-enabled vehicle comes with two pre-programmed keys; the second one acts as a spare key. A new key can only be registered on a SKIM-enabled car if you have two pre-programmed keys of the same vehicle. Hence, we recommend that you make an additional key as soon as possible since losing one key will deprive you of the opportunity to reproduce them. Each SKIM system can register up to eight keys at one time.
If you have lost one of the keys and are now unable to make more keys, or lost all of your keys and now need new ones for your vehicle, then you will have to seek the services of your car's dealership or a locksmith at a car parts store that specialises in the development of SKIM keys.
How do you register a new SKIM key?
To register new keys in your car, you first need blank keys that are readily available at car parts stores. Then get the blank key cut according to the specifications of your car's original keys.
You can initialise the registration process by inserting the first original key in your car's ignition and turning it on, then waiting for almost five seconds before turning it off. Then, immediately insert the second original key in the ignition and start it. The SKIS indicator should begin flashing after around ten seconds.
At this point, turn off the ignition again and remove the key, insert the blank key in the ignition and turn it on. The key will be automatically programmed by the car, and once the SKIS light turns off after flashing, you would know that your new key has been successfully programmed.
How do you replace a SKIM system?
In some cases, especially when a vehicle has been recovered after theft, its SKIM system becomes corrupted due to damage sustained by the steering column and may need replacement. Your original keys will not work with the new SKIM system. However, they can be easily reprogrammed to work with it.
While it’s relatively easy to install a new system in your car, you might still consider seeking the help of an auto part professional. You will need his expertise for both sourcing and installing a new SKIM system, especially if you have a new steering column that does not have the system preinstalled.
We hope this guide has helped you. For more news and updates on the automotive industry and information on maintaining your car, you may visit Carpart.com.au to access how-to guides and expert advice on car maintenance. Also, you may find the auto parts or accessories you need from our online auto parts buy and sell platform.
By Muhammad A. Lashari