Key & Lock Glossary

aftermarket key

A key from a key manufacturer and not from a vehicle manufacturer. It is also called a replacement key or non-original key.


A cut in the blade of the key. With a traditional key for each bit the depth and the distance to the shoulder is specified. These specifications are recorded in a bitting chart.

bow (head)

The bow is the wide part of the key, where it is held.

brand mark

The brand mark indicates the manufacturer that is supplying the key in the market. This can either be a vehicle manufacturer or a key manufacturer. Almost always will the key bare either the name or logo of the manufacturer.


Making incisions (bits) in a key blank. When an already cut key is used then we speak of "key duplication". It is also possible to get a working key by cutting it to a key code.

cylinder lock

cylinder lock
A cylinder lock is a lock with a cylindrical plug containing the keyhole. The plug rotates when the lock is opened. In a lock without a key, the pins prevent the plug from being rotated. The key pushes the pins into the shell, releasing the plug.

key blank

A key blank is a key without incisions. A key blank needs to be cut before it can be used. Each blank has its own unique key blank number. to top

key blank number

key blank number on key
The key blank number is a code that specifies shape of the blade. It specifies the key blank. The blank number does not specify the bitting (the cuts). One could think of the blank number as the key's partnumber or modelnumber. Each manufacturer uses its own set of blank numbers.

The key blank number is usually - in spite of the name - a combination of numbers and letters. The key blank number is stamped onto the keyhead during production. The blank number consists of raised lettering. Not every key has a key blank number stamped onto it. Characters that are engraved, scratched or hewn in usually do not represent the blank number.

key code

key code
The key code is a code from the lock manufacturer and specifies which key will open the lock. The key code specifies both the blank to use and how to cut it. The key code consists of numbers and letters or just numbers.

To understand the key code is good to understand how a lock is manufactured. A final step in the production process is placing the pins or wafers. The lengths of these pins/wafers determine how deep the key should be cut. These lengths contribute to the key code.

key manufacturer

A company that produces aftermarket keys. Aftermarket vehicle keys are usually from one of these manufacturers: Börkey, Curtis, DL (Dominion Lock), Errebi, Ilco, JMA, Kis, Mr Minit, Orion, Silca or Taylor. to top


The keyblade is part of the key that is inserted into the keyhole.

keyed alike

Locks are keyed alike if they can be opened with one and the same key. The locks have the same keyhole and are coded identically.

original key

A key supplied by a vehicle manufacturer. It is also called an OEM key (original equipement manufacturer). See also aftermarket key.

plug (cylinder)

The plug is the cylindrical part of a cylinderlock, containing the keyhole. Using the right key makes it possible to rotate the plug in the shell.


Recoding modifies the lock, such that it can only be opened with a key that is cut differently. The old key no longer works. Recoding does not change which key blank is needed. to top

remote control

The remote control is an electrical circuit in the keyhead which allows you to open the car doors remotely. It is fully independent from the transponder chip that if often also present in the head of modern keys.

shell (housing)

The shell is the lock's non-moving housing that contains the plug.


The shoulder is the extrusion on the blade of the key. The shoulder ensures that the key is inserted into the keyhole to the correct depth.


The tip is the part of the key that is inserted into the keyhole first. to top

transponder key

transponder key
A key containing a transponder chip (in the keyhead) which communicates with the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) of the car. Only when the transponder chip transmits the correct code the car's immobilizer is deactivated and the car can be used. Virtually all cars from 1996 use transponder keys. Some more expensive models (modern) motorcycles also use a transponder key.

In the immediate vicinity of the ignition lock there is the antenna of the ECU. When the transponder chip is in the field of antenna, the code can be transmitted. The transponder chip does not need a battery, but is activated by the antenna field.

The ignition lock and the antenna are independent and separate parts. to top

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