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How to program a car key

Automotive technology has changed over the last 30 years. The car locking/unlocking system and security is the area where the most significant changes have taken place. Today's cars are equipped with computer technology which, while enhancing your car's protection against theft, requires chip-integrated keys that must be programmed into your vehicle. It's a great way to protect against car thieves. However, where there is a plus, there is sometimes, unfortunately, a minus as well. Because of this new technology, getting you back into your car might be longer and harder even for a professional locksmith. Without the microchip, the car won’t start. The key programming process may be unfamiliar for people who have never dealt with something similar before. In this article, we will answer these questions so that you can better understand what to do with the keys if you need to reprogram them.

Check Your Car Key Battery

In many cases, a non-functioning electronic key fob does not need to be replaced. So before you spend a fortune to buy a new key fob, it is worth checking to see if an inexpensive battery replacement will solve the problem.
First of all, you need to open the key fob and find a tiny "key" embedded in the seam of the device. Once you find it, pull out the key and use it to pry the case open. Take your time and be careful not to damage the case. Once you have access, you will see the circuit board inside. Carefully remove it and you will find the battery attached to the bottom.
The majority of key fobs use a small clock battery, which can be found at most drugstores and home improvement stores. Most of them only cost a couple of dollars, so it's wise to try replacing the old battery with a fresh one before replacing the entire fob.
car key in the lock cylinder
car key in the lock cylinder

Can I Program My Own Car Key By Myself

Some vehicles allow you to program your own key or key fob, and programming instructions can be found in the vehicle service manual. Note that many vehicles allow you to program the remote part of the key, but not the key itself. Thus, you will be able to open the doors/trunk, but the car will not start until you connect to the car's computer to program the key.
However, as a rule, you might not reprogram a car key yourself. There are very few models that allow you to do this, but it may depend on the country and the manufacturer. While this may seem unpleasant, it also prevents other people from reprogramming the key and stealing your car. So, don’t be upset that your car doesn't allow you to do that. As you can see, it may be best not to risk reprogramming the key yourself but to have it done professionally.

Who Can Program Car Keys

You will have to go to a certified dealer of your car manufacturer or key programming locksmith, i.e. an automotive locksmith. Both of them are perfectly capable of providing you with a new key or repairing the old one.
Locksmiths that program car keys use the vehicle identification number (VIN) to make sure you get the right key. The VIN number can be found on most official documents, including the vehicle's title, registration and insurance cards. You may also find it by looking through the windshield on the right side of the dashboard.

Call An Automotive Locksmith

To program your car key, remote, or fob, the car locksmith will connect the computer, a key programmer, with the appropriate software to the OBD port (usually located under the dashboard). The software allows the locksmith to add and remove keys from the car. The technician can erase nonexistent keys, thereby opening slots for programming a car key. That’s the perfect solution for stolen or lost keys. However, these computers will not allow a locksmith to program keys without stopping in order to use the prepaid token. In most cases, there is a "token" system that allows the computers to program the car only if a prepaid token is available.
car key with key fob in a car
car key with key fob in a car

Summing Up

In summary, automotive key programming can be very simple, or it can be quite complicated, depending on different variables. However, if you have some time and determination, you may program your car yourself if it is possible to do it. The most reliable solution is to call a car locksmith. Sure Lock & Key will gladly and quickly solve your problem and you won’t need to worry about how to do it yourself and whether you’re doing everything correctly. It will save you a lot of time and aggravation.

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