If you own a modern car with an electronic key fob, you may eventually get to a point where you have to reprogram it yourself. The process of reprogramming a key fob is usually pretty simple, but it’s different for every manufacturer.
In almost all cases, programming a key fob requires a combination of pushing the buttons on the fob and turning the car off and on. This combination changes considerably depending on what car you own.
In this article, we won’t be covering how to program a key fob for literally all cars, but we will go over how to program a key fob for five of the most popular car brands in North America. We’ll be taking a look at how to program a key fob for Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Nissan, and Toyota vehicles.
Why Program Your Key Fob Yourself?
At this point, you might be asking yourself why you would ever need to reprogram your car’s key fob in the first place. After all, odds are your key fob works fine and all the buttons still do what you want.
This might not always be the case, though. Over time, key fobs can sometimes experience decreased signal strength, which is usually the result of a dying battery but may also be caused by the fob’s programming going awry. In such cases, reprogramming your key fob can solve these problems.
Learning how to reprogram a key fob yourself can also save you a bit of money. As you can probably expect, dealerships and garages won’t reprogram your key fob for free, and the cost of reprogramming can be pretty high depending on the vehicle you have.
The cost of reprogramming a key fob might be as low as $50 or as high as $500 if you have a particularly expensive or luxurious car. In general, the more high-end a car is, the more expensive it will be to reprogram the key fob.
If you’re in a situation where you have no choice but to get a new key fob, you’ll have to pay for the key fob itself, of course, but you can still save a bit of money by doing the programming yourself.
How to Program Your Key Fob
As we’ve mentioned, the method used to program your key depends on the specific brand of vehicle you have. Luckily in all cases, you don’t need to own any kind of specialized equipment to reprogram a key fob; you just need the fob and the car you want to pair it with.
Below, we’ll be going over the methods used for programming key fob from a variety of manufacturers. We’ll also note when the reprogramming methods listed below can be used with vehicles from other brands made by the same manufacturer:
This is the method used to reprogram key fobs from Ford vehicles. This method can also be applied to some Lincoln vehicles since Ford owns Lincoln. Note that this method only works with fobs that offer keyless entry.
- Make sure all the doors of the car are shut properly, and then open the driver’s door.
- Press the “Unlock” button on the driver’s door.
- To enter programming mode, you’ll need to quickly turn the ignition from “Off” to “Run” 8 times in a row, making sure to end on “Run”. This needs to be done within a span of 10 seconds. You’ll know you’ve successfully entered programming mode if you hear the doors lock and unlock.
- To program your key fob and pair it to your car, all you need to do is press any button on your fob. You need to do this within 8 seconds of entering programming mode. If the pairing is successful, you should hear the locks cycle once again.
- If you have other key fobs that you want to pair with your car, you can do so now. Again, you need to do this within 8 seconds after the door locks have cycled.
- Once you’ve finished programming your fob(s), turn the ignition to “Off”. The locks will cycle one final time to confirm that you’ve exited programming mode.
This is how to reprogram a key fob for Chevrolet vehicles. Chevrolet is of course owned by General Motors, and this method can be used with all other GM vehicles, including cars from GMC, Buick, and Cadillac.
- Get in your car and make sure all the doors are properly closed.
- Insert your key into the ignition, but don’t turn it yet. With the key in the ignition, hold down the “Unlock” button on the driver’s door.
- While still holding down the “Unlock” button, turn the ignition to “On” and then back to “Off” twice in a row. Try to do this as quickly as you can. Make sure you end up with the ignition in the “Off” position.
- You can now let go of the “Unlock” button. If you’ve performed all of the previous steps correctly, you should hear the door locks cycle, indicating that the car is now in programming mode.
- On your key fob, hold down the “Lock” and “Unlock” buttons at the same time. You should soon hear the door locks cycle again. If you hear this, this means that you successfully reprogrammed your key fob.
- When you hear the door locks cycle, turn the ignition back to “On” to exit programming mode.
Here’s how you can program your key fob if you own a Dodge vehicle. It’s important to note that despite the fact that all of these brands are owned by the same manufacturer (Stellantis), this method can’t be used to reprogram Chrysler, Jeep, or RAM key fobs.
- Get inside your vehicle. Make sure all the doors are closed and within 10 seconds of closing the doors, lock the car with the “Lock” button on the key fob.
- Insert the key into the ignition. While holding down the “Unlock” button on the key fob, turn the key to the “Run” position.
- While still holding down the “Unlock” button, press and hold the “Panic” button. Then, release both buttons simultaneously.
- Next, press and hold the “Lock” and “Unlock” buttons on your key fob for a moment, and then release them at the same time.
- Finally, press the “Unlock” button once more. Your key fob should now be fully programmed and paired with your car.
- Dodge vehicles don’t cycle their locks or give any visual/auditory confirmation after successfully programming a key fob, so at this stage you should test your key fob to make sure it is in fact programmed correctly.
Nissan actually has two types of key fobs that require different programming procedures, those being the Nissan Intelligent Key and the standard Nissan key fob.
The difference is that the Nissan Intelligent Key doesn’t actually need to be used in order to unlock your car or start it; you just need to have it on your person. The car automatically detects when the key fob is nearby and will automatically unlock itself and allow itself to be started if the fob is present.
Both of these programming procedures apply to Infiniti models as well, as Nissan owns Infiniti.
Nissan Intelligent Key Procedure:
- Get inside your vehicle. Make sure all the doors are closed and locked before you begin.
- To activate programming mode, put the key in the ignition but don’t start the car. Repeatedly take the key out and put it back in. You’ll need to do this at least 6 times to activate programming mode, but it may take up to 10 times.
- You’ll know you’re in programming mode when the hazard lights flash twice. At this stage, put the key back in the ignition and turn it to “Accessory” mode.
- As soon as you turn the key, press any button on the fob. This will pair your fob to your car. You need to do this step as quickly as possible, otherwise it won’t work.
- Test your Nissan Intelligent Key to see if it works. Stand a short distance away from your vehicle and try pressing the buttons on your fob. If your car responds, you’ve successfully programmed your key fob.
Nissan Standard Key Fob Procedure:
- Get inside your vehicle, making sure all your doors are closed and locked.
- To activate programming mode, put the key into the ignition, turn it to “Accessory”, then turn the car off and remove the key from the ignition. Quickly repeat this step 6 times.
- The hazard lights will flash twice when you successfully enter programming mode. Once you do, put the key back in the ignition and turn it to “Accessory” again.
- Press any button on your key fob to pair it with your vehicle. Upon successfully pairing your fob, the hazard lights will flash again. If you have any more fobs you want to program, simply press any one of the buttons on the new fob.
- To exit programming mode, simply turn the ignition off and remove the key.
Finally, let’s go over the procedure for programming a Toyota key fob. Despite the fact that Toyota owns Lexus, this procedure doesn’t apply to Lexus vehicles.
- Get into your car, making sure that all the doors are closed behind you.
- Put the key in the ignition and turn it from “Off” to “On”. Repeat this step within 5 seconds of doing it the first time.
- Take your key out from the ignition, and within 40 seconds of doing so, open and close the driver’s door two times.
- Insert the key into the ignition again and then immediately remove it.
- If you’ve done everything correctly, the door locks should engage as an indicator that you’ve successfully paired your key fob with your car.