What year did Ford start using smart keys?

I just bought a used '97 Mercury Sable, and it came with only 1 key, so I need to have one made for the ball’n’chain. When did FoMoCo start using smart keys? The difference is having one made for a couple of bucks at the local hardware, or paying out the butt at a dealer…

well I am not in the shop to look this up. I can tell you now that almost all have transponder keys.

Easy way to know if you have one?
If the hole in the head of the key is offset then it is most likely a transponder key.

The dealership is not the only people able to duplicate them. Th eprivat elocksmith shop I work for duplicate or generate these all the time.

Duplicates run 45 dollars and generateing for a lost key between 145 to 190.

You’re thinking of Ford’s “PATS” system.
This web site:
leads me to believe that in your year, it was optional.

How big is the head of your key?
The PATS keys are several times thicker at the head than are non-PATS keys.
If your key is the same width as the key from an '89 Escort, you’re safe.

I have not a clue about the key sizes for any year of Escort, because I’ve driven GM products for a very long time.

I can tell you the Sable key has a centered hole, and is considerably smaller at the top than the key for my '02 Trailblazer, which DOES have a smart key.

I’m betting you’re safe.
My car has PATS V2. If you have PATS, you’ll have V1. That may mean different designs on the keys.

Best bet go get a standard key made… all Transponder and PATS keys for ford have a standard keyway to duplicate on. If it cranks the car goodie for you. If it turns and does not start the vehicle, do not fret, you can always keep it in your wallet just in case you accidentally lock your keys in the car.