How Do You Program a New Key Fob?

Technological advancements have continued to improve the way in which vehicles operate. One of the major inventions in the automotive industry is the key fob security system. This system enhances the ease of starting, locking/unlocking a car, as well as other vital functions.

However, losing your car’s key fob comes with the challenge of getting a new key fob and reprogramming it to work with your vehicle. Without reprogramming the device, you won’t be able to control your vehicle’s functions as before.

If you misplaced your key fob and just got a new replacement, this article will guide you step-by-step on how to program a new key fob.

how to program a new key fob for your car

How Does a Car’s Key Fob Work?

A vehicle’s key fob is designed with a short-range radio frequency identification (RFID) chip plus an antenna. The radio transmitter is programmed to send unique coded signals to the specific key fob’s receiver.

Just like the key fob, the receiver unit comes with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. This RFID tag contains specific stored information. When the car owner presses the key fob, the RFID chip automatically sends a unique signal that matches the RFID tag information.

Once the signal is received and interpreted as correct, the car responds appropriately to the instruction that the user has communicated. Every single button on the key fob is programmed to send a different signal, which the vehicle responds to accordingly.

A car’s key fob is designed to transmit/communicate different instructions. With the key fob, you can lock/unlock the car, start the ignition, pop the latch that controls the trunk, arm/disarm security systems, etc.

Typically, a key fob that is uniquely programmed with a specific car will work only with that car. However, once a key fob starts to malfunction, it may not send signals as expected. 

While it is costly to replace them, you’ll still need to understand how to program a key fob for a car before it can work with your vehicle.

Read Also: How to Program a Transponder Key Without Original?

What Equipment is Needed to Program a Key Fob?

Generally, whether or not you need a Key fob programming tool to program a car’s key fob depends on the type of car. Some vehicles require handheld programmers with a user-friendly interphase, which is navigated through an LCD screen and buttons to program their key fob.

Key fob programmers can either be connected to the car’s diagnostic port or a Bluetooth connection system.

On the flip side, you can also program the key fob of certain vehicles without any unique programming tool. So, if your key fob is missing and you just got a replacement, be sure to find out whether or not you need a key fob programming tool.

how to program a car key without the original

How to Program a New Key Fob

Most times, the programming process may differ from one car to another. However, irrespective of the vehicle you drive, the fundamental steps are similar. If you’re asking, “Can I program a key fob without going to the dealership?” The answer is yes. Simply follow the steps below to program your new key fob.

Step 1: Ensure that the key fob’s battery is charged

Firstly, once you get a new key fob, make sure that the battery has sufficient power before commencing the programming process.

Step 2: Enter the car and lock the doors

Once you’re sure that the key fob’s battery is charged and ready for operation, get into your car using your normal key. Then, engage the locks on the doors to avoid disrupting the programming process.

Step 3: Insert your car key and turn on the ignition

Now, insert the car key into the ignition switch. Then, turn the key to the “ON” position. 

Step 4: Press “Lock” on the key fob

Still with the key in the ignition’s “ON” position, press “Lock” on the key fob.

Step 5: Return the car key to “OFF”

Now, turn the car key again to the “OFF” position in the ignition switch.

Step 6: Repeatedly perform steps 3 – 4 – 5

Continue the process by performing the actions in step 3, step 4, and step 5. Do this in quick succession for about four times until you hear the lock cycle.

Step 7: Test the key fob

Now is the time to test the key fob to see whether or not the programming was successful. If everything works out fine with your car, then you’re good to go. So, if you were asking, “Can I program a key fob myself?” You’ve seen the ease of the process.

However, if you have a smart key fob with an immobilizer, you will certainly need to perform some more difficult tasks. The reason is because of the security code in the immobilizer system. The same applies to cars with key fobs that have duplicate mechanical keys.

Therefore, before you go on and program your vehicle’s duplicate key fob, ensure that its blank blade is already machined to align with the original key’s profile specifically. Now, let’s get to the step-by-step procedure on how to program smart keys.

Step 1: Insert the duplicate key in the ignition: First things first, slot in the unprogrammed duplicate car key into the car’s ignition switch. 

Step 2: Connect the programming device to the car: Carefully identify your car’s OBD II port and connect the programming device to the port.

Step 3: Run the programming software: Now, identify the perfect Key fob programming app or software that is compatible with both your car and the programming device. You may want to search this online before you continue.

Step 4: Follow/implement the instructions from the device: At this point, pay attention to all the instructions that are being prompted by the programming device and implement them carefully.

Step 5: Wait! Wait! Wait!: Once you’ve done all that the programming device prompted in step 4 (above), simply wait for it to reprogram your key fob using a new code entirely.

Step 6: Test the key: Now, test the key to see if your vehicle’s system recognizes it. You may want to start the car at first. If it works out fine and every other function responds accordingly, you are good to go as well.

Read Also: How to Start a Car Without Key – Auto & Manual

How Much Does it Cost to Program a Key Fob?

Programming a car’s key fob costs around $50 – $100. However, the cost of programming depends on the type of car, as some more sophisticated key fobs may require as much as $500. 

The total cost depends on how complex the key fob design is, as well as the general nature of the vehicle. In any case, the key fob is very important; hence, irrespective of the high cost, you may not have a choice but to program it as demanded.

Final Words

Programming a new key fob doesn’t have to be a cumbersome task. However, knowing what to do automatically makes the entire process seamless. So, if you were contemplating how to program a new key fob, ensure to follow the guidelines provided above in this article.

Meanwhile, if you’re not sure of your ability to handle the programming process of more complex key fob systems, kindly contact an expert auto technician for assistance.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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