Expert Advice | Key Fob Programming – 7 Easy Steps

Here are 7 easy steps to follow for your key fob programming. You can yourself program your key fob without needing a professional. The process will work for most lock and unlock key fobs in the market.
Key fob programming

I spent several hours researching and putting together simple and clear 7 steps to assist you in your key fob programming mission. As per our goal at Car Care Handy, I aim to cut through the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your car care and maintenance.

First Check

Lock/unlock key fob

Lock/Unlock Key Fob

Most lock/unlock key fobs can be programmed following the following steps. If your key fob can be manually programmed, then follow the instructions in this article. Check your owner’s manual to get a clear answer.

Push-Start Key Fob

To program a push-start key fob, you need to go to a dealer or a certified professional because this procedure needs the exact diagnostic tools. Refer to your owner’s manual for more details.

Key Fob Programming Steps

Key fob programming steps

I’ll guide you step by step to program your key fob, yourself, without needing a professional. It’s very simple and will only take a few minutes.

I’ve narrowed it down to 7 easy steps for your key fob programming.

Step 1: Battery Replacement

It’s always a good idea to check the batteries first. They might cause some malfunctions while you’re programming if they’re old. Key fob batteries aren’t expensive and are available at most retailers. 

If you don’t know how to replace the batteries, check your owner’s manual for specific instructions.

Usually, you just need to open the fob, pull out the hidden key inside and use it to gently open up the plastic seam of the fob. The seam is fragile so be careful. Now that the plastic seam is open, take out the small item that looks like a circuit board. You’ll find your key fob battery. It’s round and you can remove it easily and replace them.

Step 2: Closed Doors

Get your keys, the actual and the fob, and jump into the driver’s seat. Once in, make sure all the doors are closed. This is a crucial step because open doors may disturb the programming process.

Step 3: ON Position

Put the ignition key into place. Then turn it to the ON position. Now that all systems are powered within your car, make sure it isn’t on radio mode, and your engine is not running. You shouldn’t start the engine while programming.

Step 4: ON-Lock-OFF

Now that the key is in the ON position, press the lock button of your key fob, and switch the ignition key back to the OFF position. You will have to repeat this operation, ON-Lock-OFF, at least three times. Be sure you end with an ON position.

This repeated combination will alert your car’s electronic control units that the key fob in the ignition is sending out the signal for the programming.

Step 5: Lock Sound

Once you’re done with step 4, you’ll be able to hear a lock sound. It means you’re in programming mode.

Push the lock button, of your key fob, within seconds and you’ll conclude the programming.

Step 6: OFF Position

Now that you’re done with your key fob programming, you need to terminate the procedure. Just turn the ignition key to the OFF position.

Step 7: Testing

Get out of the car, don’t forget your keys inside, close all the doors, and test your key fob.

About Car Security System

Car engine control unit

Understanding the car security system comes down to understanding the two parts of this system: the car entry system and the system used to start the engine.

Car Entry System

Nowadays, most cars don’t require a key to lock and unlock the doors and control the car. A remote is used instead. Even more, recent cars with proximity keys will give keyless access to the car. This new system is much more sophisticated and secure using radio frequency technology. The signal in the key fob generates a new code that is synchronized with the receiver every time [1, 2, 3].

Engine Starting System

For starting the engine, traditional cars use the same entry key to start the ignition, which it’s not secure enough. So, new cars use engine control unit technology and add a transponder for extra security. These transponders have a small chip that sends and receives electronic signals to the ignition receiver. The car will only start if the signals are matched [4, 5].

The Bottom Line

Key fob programming depends on the age of your vehicle. The more your car is smart, the more the programming is difficult, expensive, and must be done by professionals.

If you have a lock and unlock key fob that can be manually programmed, I made this article very simple, so you can follow the 7 steps outlined above for your key fob programming.

Do you want to learn how to replace your key fob? Check out our guide on key fob replacement.