Can you program a key fob yourself? 9-step guide on how to do it

As you left for work one day, you instinctively reached for your car key. But much to your horror, it wasn’t there. You suddenly remember you left it in your other coat. Annoyed, you returned to your house to pick it up. Wouldn’t it help to have a few extra remotes?

Unlike most wishes, you can achieve this easily. You won’t even need anything other than the fobs themselves. To find out if you can program a key fob yourself, follow our 9-step guide on how to do it below.

Odb Key Fob Programmer

Can I program a key fob myself?

In most cases, you can program a fob yourself. It’s not a difficult process, though it might require some trial and error.

However, not every car is compatible with the guideline mentioned below. The exact steps might vary between a Nissan and a Hyundai. And for some models, you’ll need advanced tech to succeed.

How hard is it to program a key fob?

Reprogramming your car key fob isn’t hard at all. The process is straightforward, and even a layman can do it. It doesn’t take long either – just a couple of minutes.

But some models require specific steps. For instance, programming a Subaru might not be the same as programming a Kia. Fortunately, your car manual should have all the specifics.

If all your attempts fail, it might not be your fault. Sometimes, car fob replacement is inevitable. Locksmiths and repair shops should be able to help you in this case.

How to program a key fob yourself

To program a key fob yourself, you just need to follow the guide below. Keep in mind that this is a general guide. While it should work for most models, some vehicles have their procedures. You can find these in your car manual.

Nissan key fob
  1. Change the batteries.

Firstly, check the state of your batteries. To program a key fob successfully, it has to be powered properly. Otherwise, the car key reprogramming might malfunction.

Bad batteries might also be the reason why it doesn’t work. Sometimes, changing them solves the issue entirely.

Regardless, it’s best to err on the side of caution. By replacing the batteries, you can rule them out in case something goes wrong. They don’t cost much and don’t require much technical know-how to replace.

  1. Enter your car.

With your car keys and remotes at hand, enter your car. Ideally, you should sit in the driver’s seat.

Make sure you close all doors properly. Otherwise, reprogramming your car key might fail.

  1. Switch the ignition on.

After double-checking all car doors, switch the ignition. It should power up all the electronics.

Just turning the ignition is enough. You don’t need to start the engine.

  1. Tap the lock button.

While your fob remains in the ‘On’ position, tap the lock button. Then, move your it to the ‘Off’ position.

Repeat this process at least three times or more. Each cycle should end with the fob in the ‘On’ position.

  1. See if your car doors are locked.

You should hear a lock sound right after you finish Step 4. Your vehicle is now in programming mode.

At this point, you’ll have to move quickly. Within 5 seconds of hearing the lock sound, press the lock button again.

We’d like to point out that this window is quite short. If reprogramming your car key fails, you might have reacted too slowly. Try repeating the whole process a few times to rule out this possibility.

  1. Repeat for other fobs

Step 6 is only relevant if you have additional keyless remotes to program.

If so, hit the lock button within 10 of hearing the lock sound (Step 5). Once again, you’ll need to be quick.

Alternatively, you can hit the lock or unlock button while programming the original fob. It means when switching the ignition on in Step 3.

  1. Switch the ignition off

After tuning the additional keyless remotes, you can also switch the ignition off. It will end the programming mode.

  1. Leave your vehicle

You can now leave your car. Again, make certain all the doors are closed properly.

  1. See if the fob reset was successful.

Test out your car key and all the additional remotes. In case some (or none) none of them work, repeat this guide a few times.

If you still don’t get any response from any of them, your model might not support this method. Unfortunately, you might have to seek professional help in this case.

How much does an auto locksmith charge to program a key fob

key programmer and keys

If all your attempts end up fruitless, you should seek out a professional. In general, locksmiths are better than dealerships.

They’re significantly cheaper. Moreover, most of them will drive to your location.

How much an auto locksmith might charge you depends on multiple factors. Your vehicle’s make and model will play a significant part in determining the price. Your key fob type is also important. And lastly, it depends on where you live.

As a rough estimate, expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $500.

Best key fob programming tools

If our guide doesn’t work, don’t despair. Some models are trickier to reprogram than others. To save up some money, you can invest in specialized toolkits. These will do the job for you.

To make your job a bit easier, we include the top 3 best key fob programming tools below:

nissan key fobs

Car Keys Express

This car fob replacement kit will make your life a lot easier. As long as you have the original one, you’ll be able to program additional ones to your vehicle.

However, the programmer tunes to a single car. Once you use it, it will only work for that specific vehicle.

The kit also comes with a keyless remote. It has all the buttons you need: lock, unlock, panic, and even remote start—the last only works on cars that support this feature.

In terms of compatibility, this kit far surpassed our expectations. It works on Ram, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, and Volkswagen models. Check the product info to see if it’s compatible with yours.

The installation is rather simple. It shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes. And compared to locksmiths and dealerships, it’s far cheaper.

This product can program as many as 8 fobs into your vehicle. Just make sure you still have the original one on you.

Simple Key
2,236 Reviews
Simple Key
It works with a variety of models.

XTOOL

Though it might seem expensive, every tinkerer will appreciate this multi-tool. In addition to key fob reset, this device supports several additional functions.

With it, you can check next to all of your car’s stats. From engine RPM to transmission fluid temperature, this device reads them all.

It features 28 advanced service functions too. These include throttle reset, ABS bleed, and battery registration, to name a few.

As for the programming itself, it’s compatible with most models. The exceptions are Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and Volkswagen. It doesn’t work for Toyota, either. But if you own any other model, there’s no limit to what this toolkit can do.

Whether a professional mechanic or a car aficionado, you’ll be more than satisfied with this product.

Keyless Option

Consider this aftermarket fob if you’d like an extra keyless remote. It also serves as a good car fob replacement. You can program it the moment it arrives.

This model replaces those with numbers 15252034 and KOBGT04A.

This product comes with batteries already installed.

KeylessOption 
1,570 Reviews
KeylessOption 
KeylessOption is great and affordable.

Can you reprogram a used key fob to a different car?

In general, you can reprogram a used key fob to a different car. But to do so, you’ll need a car, one that fits in your vehicle’s doors.

As for keyless remotes, you can program them to a different car as long as their part number is the same.

But if you’re ever unsure, you can test it yourself. The process doesn’t take long, so what’s the harm in trying?

Honda car keys

How to program a push-start button

Some cars (like Ford ) have push-start buttons. If so, you can program a keyless ignition fob to your vehicle. Although success isn’t guaranteed, you don’t lose anything by trying. And if it does work, you’ll save a lot of money.

  1. Enter your vehicle

Enter your vehicle and double-check if all the doors are closed. Then, place one hand on the gob and the other one on the push start button. Do not press the brake pedal – turning the engine on isn’t necessary.

  1. Hit the button repeatedly.

Press the start button at least 15 times in a row. Timing is crucial here. Try to keep the time between each press shorter than 2 seconds.

  1. Press the lock button

Right after step 2, press the lock button on the fob. If your car doors locked, you were successful. Otherwise, try to repeat the whole process. If it still doesn’t work, it might be time to call a locksmith.

FAQ

How long does it take to program a key fob?

Skilled locksmiths and dealerships should have it reprogrammed within 30 minutes. If they need to cut it, it might take as long as one hour.

When it comes to the DIY method we listed above, it shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes.

Who programs key fobs?

Both dealerships and locksmiths can program key fobs. If resetting it yourself didn’t work, you can reach out to either one of them. However, we recommend going to a locksmith – it’s much cheaper.

Reprogramming a transponder key might lie outside your expertise. If you have one, you’d better visit a locksmith.

Can a key fob be reprogrammed?

Key fobs can be reprogrammed, even the used ones. They just need to be compatible with your vehicle.

Since reprogramming them is simple, you should first try to follow our simple guide. Doing so will save you a lot of money in the long run. And if it doesn’t work, you can still call a locksmith later.

Can you program a key fob without ignition?

No, you can’t program it without ignition. To turn on your car’s electronic system, you’ll need to switch the ignition on. The function of these remotes is based on radio waves. Electrical power is necessary to both emit and receive these.

Can you program a key fob without the original?

Whether you can program a key fob without the original or not depends on the model. To find out, you can try to program it yourself.
In case you fail, you can always visit a locksmith. Make sure you bring your proof of ownership with you, though.

Will an aftermarket key fob work?

An aftermarket key fob will work if it is compatible with your vehicle model. The information should be written on the packages of such products.

However, avoid buying unbranded models. While they might work, the odds aren’t great – you wouldn’t want to waste your money!

Conclusion

Sometimes, your fobs might malfunction. Thankfully, you can reprogram them yourself. All you need to do is follow our 9-step guide on how to do it. This process shouldn’t take you longer than a few minutes.

However, the specifics vary from one model to another. A Chevy might require different steps than a Honda. You can always consult the vehicle manual to find out what the steps are.

And should all else fail, you can always take your car to a dealership or locksmith. Locksmiths are generally much cheaper.

We suggest getting reprogramming tools instead, though. These are far cheaper than any locksmith. And besides, it’s a one-time purchase. Once you get it, you can use it as often as you need.

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