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How to program a keyless entry key fob?

One of the most popular questions we are getting: “Can’t you guys program the remote for me before you ship?”

Another one is: Can I give you my VIN and you’ll program it for me? Well, here is our ultimate explanation of programming.

Remotes are radio transmitters. Each remote sends out codes on a certain frequency. Some remotes are 302MHz, 315MHz, 434MHz, etc… Of course, the transmitter and receiver are working on one particular frequency but it takes more than that to make a remote communicate to a receiver. The receiver has to recognize the codes from the remote and realize that is a remote that is matched to the system. Programming a remote to a system makes the system recognize the remote which matches it to the system.

Common misconception: Remotes get programmed.

Fact: Systems get programmed to accept the remote.

Common misconception: Someone can program a remote to my car and use it to steal my car or the stuff inside.

Fact: You need to have a working key already before you can go through the programming procedure. If a thief has a working key then you can consider your car already stolen. He doesn’t need to program a remote so he can enter your vehicle again.

Programming methods are different for different vehicles. On most newer cars that can be programmed yourself, it usually involves some combination of turning the key on and off a certain number of times; pressing different buttons in a certain sequence; opening and closing the doors, etc. You sit in the driver’s seat most of the time and you need no tools or special knowledge. You don’t get dirty.

There are some older vehicles that require a bit more. You’ll have to get on your knees and look at the data link connector and stick a metal paper clip into precise holes. If your vehicle is one of those our instructions come with exact diagrams and well spelled out specifics so you can get it right. You really don’t need any technical expertise to do it. When my son was 10 years old he performed programming on my brother’s car and it was one of these procedures that involved jumping terminals on the data link connector. Some other older vehicles have a programming connector in the trunk which needs to be jumped or grounded. This is also easy to do because our instructions spell out ever so specifically where to look and what to do.

Most programming procedures take under a minute to complete. They are usually very easy.

There are a number of vehicles that do not have onboard programming procedures. These vehicles require you to go to an automotive locksmith or an automotive professional that has the proper scan tool (T-Code, MVP, Tech2, NGS, Codeseeker, etc.) Of course, the dealer has the right scan tool to get the job done. They usually charge an arm and a leg. Automotive locksmiths “generally” make a living beating the dealer’s price. We’ve heard locksmith prices for programming between $25 and $100. The average maybe $50 for programming.

Programming keys is similar to programming remotes. On GM vehicles you can program a key easily with one working key. You can program it slowly if you have no working key but it takes a half-hour. On Ford and Chrysler vehicles you need two working keys to program additional keys yourself. On most other brands you need an automotive locksmith to program the vehicle to accept the key.


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