Electronic car keys, also called key fobs, are extremely useful in controlling your car’s doors, trunk and alarm, and can even remotely start your car from a distance.
Like any other electronic device, these key fobs can malfunction after some time, typically due to signal loss. However, in such a case, you can easily reprogram the remote yourself so that you can still use it.
In this article, we will explain step-by-step how you can reprogram your car key remote so that you don’t have to take it to an auto-dealer and spend your precious money.
How to reprogram a key fob
Different cars have different ways to reprogram their key fobs. The process mentioned below is the simplest way to reprogram any remote in general. This guide works with most cars on the market, but sometimes you need to find information for your exact car model. You can find more specific information about your car’s remote from the owner’s manual.
Total Time: 5 minutes
1. Replace the batteries inside the key fobs
Before doing anything else, replace the battery in the key fob/s if you haven’t done so for a while. A bad key fob battery can give you a real headache while you are trying to reprogram it. The batteries are often cheap and also easy to replace. Check your owner’s manual if you do not know how to replace them.
2. Get inside the car
Get in the driver’s seat with your car keys and the remote and close all the doors. Closing the doors is very important, as it may disturb the process if you leave one open.
3. Turn on the ignition
Once seated, insert the key into the ignition and turn to the ‘On’ position so that the electrical systems are powered. Make sure that the ignition is not in the radio mode, and do not start the engine.
With the key in ‘On’ position, press the fob’s lock button and turn the key back to ‘Off’ position. Repeat this process at least three times, ending the cycle with the key in ‘On’ position. This sends an indicator to your electronic control units that it’s your key in the ignition that’s sending out the signal, and it does save the data afterward.
5. Listen for a Lock Sound
Once you have repeated the above process, you will hear the lock sound. This indicates that you have entered the programming mode. Once this is done, press the lock button again within five seconds, and the programming will be successful.
6. Programming additional remotes
If there are additional remotes, press the ‘Lock’ button within 10 seconds after you enter the programming mode to program those remotes as well successfully.
7. Turn off the ignition
Once the above steps are performed, turn the ignition back to ‘Off’ position to terminate the programming procedure.
8. Step out from your car and test the result
Take your key fobs with you and leave the vehicle and close all doors. Test to both unlocks with all your keyfobs that got programmed to verify the function.
Specialist Hardware Required to Reprogram Key Fobs
For some cars, reprogramming key fobs may not be easy, and in that car, specialist hardware may be required. Typically, we would suggest that you call your authorized car dealer to take care of the situation, but this can be expensive.
You can have your car remote key re-encoded from any other auto locksmith company or a mechanic workshop for a comparatively lower price and have a separate master key made as well.
Creating a new master key may require a code card which can be found in your car’s manual.
Understanding Vehicle Security
Car security can be divided into two categories – Car entry and Starting the car.
In most of the modern cars, you are not required to insert keys to open the doors since they come equipped with remote locking/unlocking. The older car remote entry systems used RF systems which were not fully secure as their signal could be easily captured and played back to unlock and enter the vehicle.
The modern entry locks use a more sophisticated rolling code system that generates a new code every time. The receiver on the vehicle also produces the same code, so both the electronic devices are perfectly synchronized. Infrared systems were also used previously by some European manufacturers who required pointing the remote towards the car to unlock. Still, most of them have been replaced with RF technology now.
Talking about starting the vehicle, traditional cars had a simple key lock system that could be unlocked from any similar key. This was convenient for thieves as it allowed them to drive away with any car easily. However, new cars are equipped with ECU technology as well as a transponder for added security.
Luxury vehicles, on the other hand, can be coded according to the driver’s specification. For instance, vehicles such as Rolls-Royce have a memory function, and as on as the driver inserts the key, the seats, headrest, mirrors, and steering wheel are adjusted according to the driver’s settings.
Manufacturers are now working towards removing the need for the key altogether and adding a fingerprint recognition system.
What is a Transponder?
Transponder technology is now apparent in many areas that require security access and are now popular in modern automobiles. New vehicle keys now feature a transponder chip, and as the key is inserted into the ignition, the chip is triggered by the radio frequency signal sent from the ignition barrel.
The chip then transmits a signal to the car’s ECU, which, when found to be correct, disables the immobilizer and starts the engine.
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