All You Need to Know about Car Key Programming Equipment, UK?

by UK Auto Locksmith
3 years ago

You’ve possibly got your car locksmith’s number in speed dial mode on your mobile and rely on him blindfolded in your hour of distress. But have you ever wondered as to how do car locksmiths create your much-needed replacement car key and most importantly, complete the task of car key programming in the least possible time? Read on to learn more about the art behind the programming of car keys of different car brands — right from the equipment required to the skills involved.

Over the years, automotive technologies have traveled a long way, and one of the areas that have undergone a sea change is the ignition system. The traditional mechanical keys have been replaced by keys comprising integrated chips that need to be programmed into your car in order for the vehicle to start.

What do Car Locksmiths actually do?

Auto locksmiths program FOBs and car keys by interfacing to the vehicle’s computer by way of the OBD port, which is typically located below the steering column. This software is available commercially and allows car locksmiths to program new FOBs/remotes/keys and enables the vehicle to recognize the replacement key and at the same time, ensures the removal of old remotes/keys/FOBs so that they cannot be used to start the vehicle.

Different Types of Car Keys or Car Key Identification

A majority of newer vehicles have 4 types of remotes and/or keys.

The first category comprises keys that have a plastic head that comes with a programmable chip that is embedded in it to start the vehicle. There is also a blade to unlock/lock doors as well as insert it into the ignition. The second type comprises a key/remote combo with a programmable chip that is embedded in the key head’s casing which contains a remote that unlocks/locks trunks and/or doors. Thirdly, key FOBs are remotes that have buttons for the trunks/doors, but there is no visible key to start the vehicle. These cars use a push button and override keys are typically tucked away inside the FOB. Lastly, Proximity FOBs simply need you to come close to the vehicle to unlock doors and start your car.

Car Key Programming Equipment, UK

How does an Auto Locksmith Program Car Keys or FOBs?

If you’re unable to self-program your car keys because a self-programming process does not exist or you do not have the requisite number of operating keys or the software/computer/tools required is extremely expensive, you will need to find a reliable and experienced car locksmith. You can also opt to go to a dealership but the costs involved will be higher.

A majority of Asian and American automobile manufacturers usually share the programming protocols involved with car tool manufacturers to enable these companies to develop the requisite hardware and software needed to program car keys. An auto locksmith purchases this equipment so that he/she can make a replacement car key and/or offer car key programming services of various car brands.

The Work Involved

A car locksmith connects his/her computer with the suitable software into the OBD port to program a vehicle’s key, FOB, or remote. Various companies offer computers and software for programming that support different models and make of cars. There is NO system that programs all the models and makes available, and an auto locksmith incurs a considerable amount of expense to procure these tools required to service car keys. The programming software enables a car locksmith to add as well as remove keys from the vehicle.

But there is a rider involved.

The software or computers do not allow a car locksmith to program keys throughout the day. Often, a “token” system is in place that only permits the computers to program a car key only when a car locksmith uses a pre-paid token. An auto must purchase tokens for car key programming, and every attempt at programming requires a token. This is a cost that an auto locksmith has to incur for each car key programming that he attempts.

Additional Cost You May Incur

Certain vehicles require the addition of a Skim Code when a car locksmith makes an attempt for car key programming; this skim code can be procured by paying a cost through the dealership. You can also acquire the skim code by providing the dealership with the title yourself. Usually, this is considered to be information owned by you, and you won’t be charged as you are the vehicle’s owner. But the information needs to be received by you in person and can save you some money associated with getting a replacement car key.

FAQ on car key programming

  1. What is a Car Key Programmer?
    • A car key programmer is a device used by automotive locksmiths and dealerships to assign a new code to a vehicle’s computer or immobilizer system, allowing new keys to be recognized and used to start the car. This tool is essential for creating spare keys, replacing lost keys, or adding keyless entry functionality.
  2. How Does a Car Key Programmer Work?
    • Car key programmers communicate with the vehicle’s onboard computer or immobilizer system to program new key data. This involves connecting the programmer to the vehicle’s OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) port and using the device to input new key information, effectively pairing the new key with the vehicle.
  3. Can I Program a Car Key Myself?
    • While some vehicles allow owners to program new keys themselves provided they have at least one working key, many modern cars require professional equipment and expertise due to increased security features. It’s often recommended to consult with a professional auto locksmith or dealership for key programming services.
  4. What Types of Keys Can Be Programmed?
    • Most car key programmers can handle a wide range of key types, including transponder keys, remote fobs, smart keys, and keyless entry devices. The specific capabilities depend on the programmer model and the vehicle’s make and model.
  5. Is Car Key Programming Expensive?
    • The cost of car key programming varies depending on the vehicle’s make, model, and the type of key being programmed. While programming a standard transponder key might be relatively inexpensive, smart keys or keys for luxury vehicles may cost more due to their advanced security features.
  6. How Long Does Key Programming Take?
    • The time required to program a new car key can range from a few minutes to over an hour. Factors that affect the duration include the type of key, the vehicle’s make and model, and the programming method used.
  7. Do I Need to Program a Spare Key?
    • Yes, even spare keys need to be programmed to match the vehicle’s immobilizer system to start the car. Having a spare key programmed at the time of purchase or shortly afterward can save you time and hassle in case of lost keys.
  8. Can All Locksmiths Program Car Keys?
    • Not all locksmiths have the equipment or expertise to program car keys, especially for newer models with advanced security systems. It’s important to seek out an automotive locksmith with experience and the necessary tools for key programming.
  9. What Makes Transponder Keys More Secure
    • Transponder keys enhance vehicle security by incorporating a chip that communicates with the car’s immobilizer system. This communication ensures that only a key with the correct electronic signature can start the car, significantly reducing the risk of theft.
  10. Can I Get a Car Key Programmed Without the Original?
    • Yes, it’s possible to program a new car key without the original. Professional locksmiths can use your vehicle’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to access the necessary information for creating and programming a new key.
  11. What’s the Difference Between Programming a Transponder Key and a Remote Key Fob?
    • Programming a transponder key involves syncing the key’s embedded chip with the car’s immobilizer system to allow the engine to start. Programming a remote key fob, on the other hand, involves linking the fob to the car’s remote central locking system, enabling remote control over the car’s locks and sometimes its alarm system.
  12. How Can I Ensure My Car Key Programming is Done Securely?
    • To ensure secure car key programming, always use a reputable and certified auto locksmith or dealership. They should have the latest tools and software to program keys correctly while protecting your vehicle’s security data.
  13. What Should I Do If My Programmed Key Stops Working?
    • If your programmed key stops working, it could be due to a dead battery in the key fob, damage to the key, or issues with the car’s immobilizer system. Contact a professional auto locksmith for diagnostics and reprogramming if necessary. They can determine whether the key or the car’s system needs attention.