Electronic keys are convenient and protect your vehicle from thieves. Fortunately, many of these keys and remotes can be replaced and programmed at home. To program a car key, turn the ignition on and off with the service keys. Then use the key that is not programmed or press a button on the remote control. The key should work perfectly, but if it doesn't, you can take it to a professional car dealer or locksmith for help.
Method 1 of 3: Program a key
Step 1. Sit in the driver's seat
You will need to access the car's ignition switch to connect the keys to the car's systems. You may need two service keys to make or repair a third. Consult the user manual for additional steps required by the manufacturer.
- Also look for the make and model of your car on the internet, since you can find the exact steps necessary to program your car keys.
- Many of the newer cars have enhanced transponders in electronic keys, which have to be programmed by a dealer or auto locksmith for the unique anti-theft system.
Step 2. Insert a programmed key into the ignition
Put the key in the slot and leave it for a moment. Place the other two keys where you can easily reach them. Keep in mind that you will have to move fast to activate the car's programming mode. Make sure you know which key each one is.
Step 3. Turn the car on and off
Turn the key you placed in the ignition and do not start the engine. Just turn the key to the on position, which activates the electrical system, and immediately turn it back to turn the car off.
Step 4. Turn the car on and off with the second service key
You have five seconds to remove the first key. Find the second programmed key and put it in the ignition. Again, turn the key so the car starts without starting the engine. Roll it back so the car turns off.
Step 5. Insert and turn the third key
You will have about ten seconds to replace the second key with the one that is not programmed. Quickly turn it once more to the on position, and a second later, turn it back to the off position. Leave the key in the ignition.
Step 6. Wait for the security light to come on
Look on the dashboard for the car's security light, which should stay on for about three seconds. You may have to press the buttons on the key that you want to program. When you're done, remove the key and test it.
Method 2 of 3: Program a remote control
Step 1. Turn on the ignition
Sit in the driver's seat with the ignition key and the remote control (also called a remote control). Close all the doors, put the key in the ignition and turn it to the on position. Don't start the engine.
Consult the user manual or on the internet for the specific steps of your vehicle. Different manufacturers require slightly different steps to complete the reprogramming process
Step 2. Press the lock button on the controller
Point the remote at the transmitting receiver if you know where it is. It will be near the front of the car, such as above the mirror, so aim that way. Press the lock button a few seconds after turning the key.
Step 3. Turn off the ignition
Immediately find the key in the ignition and turn off the car. Move fast as you only have a few seconds before the car's system resets the commands.
Step 4. Repeat the programming with the other controls
Many cars out of sync all the controls when you try to program a new one, so start from scratch. Turn on the ignition, press the lock button on the next controller and turn off the ignition. Don't stop between the two actions.
- Each key must be reprogrammed well after the last one. If you wait more than a few seconds, the car will exit programming mode and you will have to start over if you want to program all the remotes.
- On some cars, you will have to repeat the cycle several times to enter programming mode. You may hear the locks click to tell you that you've got it right.
Step 5. Turn on the ignition
Once again, turn the key in the ignition. Start the car by activating the electrical system, but do not start the engine.
Step 6. Press the lock button on the first controller
When you press the button, the car should go into programming mode if it isn't already. The locks will activate to indicate that it has been put into that mode.
Step 7. Tighten the lock buttons on all controls
Start with the first one and tighten it again to make sure it's programmed. In addition, the locks should beep to indicate that the remote has been successfully programmed. Quickly proceed to the next command and repeat the process for each command you want to program. You can then turn off the ignition and test the controls.
Method 3 of 3: Replace the keys
Step 1. Get an unencoded key
Clear keys can be ordered online at a reduced price. Make sure you get specific ones for your car make and model. The keys also have to be uncoded, that is, you cannot use the remote of an old car and program it for a new one, even if it is of the same make and model.
On new cars, you most likely won't be able to program a new key alone, but instead will need to visit a dealer or locksmith
Step 2. Call a dealer or locksmith
All electronic keys have transponder chips. Some will allow you to unlock the car, but not start it. You will need to call a dealer certified by the car manufacturer or an auto locksmith. Either one can help you when you can't program the key.
- These professionals will use the chassis number to make sure you get the right key.
- The VIN number can be found on most official documentation, such as the vehicle's ownership, license plate, and insurance card. You can also find it if you look through the windshield to the right side of the dashboard.
Step 3. Bring the property details to the locksmith
By law, you have to show your license and registration when you ask for an official key to prevent someone else from taking your car and getting a new key. You can also find a code card in the user manual that you will need to bring to facilitate the creation of the key.
- The steps of key programming differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. Check your owner's manual or look up your car's make and model online to find the specific steps required.
- It's a good idea to have several service keys on hand, as some car brands require two before you can program a new key.