DIY Car Key Coding

DIY Car Key Coding

Technology has been making our lives easier for decades now, and turning your car on and off is no exception when it comes to innovation. Nowadays, most cars won’t even start if you don’t have the proper computer chip or the correct car key code. As a matter of fact, in some cars you don’t even have to insert a key. In many contemporary vehicles, just having the electronic key in close proximity is enough to start the ignition with just a touch of a button.

How keyless entry works

With keyless entry, you only have to carry the key with you; you no longer need to press a button to open the door. As soon as you approach the vehicle, it recognizes the key by radio. Just touching the door handle or pressing a button on the door handle opens the central locking system. Some of them are available for a surcharge while others are part of the standard equipment or are combined with driver assistance packages. No “hacking” of data or even encryption is required to steal keyless vehicles. A simple range extender is all that is needed. A stolen car will run without a key as long as there is fuel in the tank (or it is refilled) until the engine is stalled or turned off.

How to program your key

Easy and convenient opening of the car door or the tailgate and starting the car at the push of a button have long been standard in car equipment. It really has become something most of us have taken for granted. At the latest, when the battery of the radio remote control gives up its ghost, one learns to appreciate this practical feature again. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you think – or even worse, the remote key doesn’t work at all after you have charged the key battery.

Here are some simple steps to show you how to program a key code. It is important to note that some manufacturers use their own technology in order to make sure that only dealerships can make new keys, for security reasons. Be sure to inform yourself if this is the case before you begin. Here we will give you some tips using CW and Audi as examples. First, we’ll show the practical Do-It-Yourself tips for older vehicles of the CW family (e.g. Audi RT 8N or Seat Leon 1M1 up to 2006). Then, we will show you how to synchronize the radio keys even on newer CW models (e.g. Audi A3 8P or Golf 6 type 5K1 2012 or newer).

1 – Coding a radio key for older CW and Audi models:

You will need at least one radio key and a mechanically suitable duplicate key for the vehicle in order to program it. Note: purchasing a device for error reading is not absolutely necessary for this but it does help with the diagnosis and you can use it in the future as well.

Insert the 1st key into the ignition lock of your vehicle (e.g. VW Golf, or Audi A4) and start the ignition.

Car key programming

Insert the 2nd key over the open driver’s side window into the door lock from the outside and lock the car mechanically by turning the inserted key to the right twice in the direction of the rear of the vehicle.

Now press the lower unlock button 1x on the 1st key in the ignition lock and wait about 10 seconds. Then press the unlock button again until you hear the sound of the central locking system.

The radio remote control of the 1st key (in the ignition lock) is already programmed. Now you can test the result.

Next, take the 2nd, unprogrammed radio key and insert it into the ignition lock and start the ignition.

Insert the 1st programmed key through the open driver’s side window from the outside into the door lock and lock it mechanically by turning it twice to the right in the direction of the rear of the vehicle.

Key coding for cars

Now press the lower button (unlock) of the 2nd key inserted in the ignition lock 2x and wait about 6 seconds before you press it again. Now you will hear the sound of the central locking system. Check the result of the 2nd programmed key. You have now finished the synchronization of the radio remote control of the two keys.

2 – Radio key programming for newer VW, Audi, and Seat models:

You’ll need at least one mechanically suitable radio key for your vehicle for the procedure.

Note: You do not necessarily need a diagnostic device, even for the programming of the radio remote control of newer models of the VW family, but it’s good to have.

First, carefully remove the lock cap next to the door handle of your vehicle (e.g. VW Golf 7 or Audi A3) on the driver’s side. Note: Use your key, or alternatively, a Phillips screwdriver to pry open the cap – be careful not to scratch the paint. Now press 1x on the lower unlock button of your key and then insert it into the door lock.

Turn the key manually once to the left in the direction of the front of the vehicle (unlocking) and one time to the right in the direction of the rear (locking).  Now turn it again 1x to the left in the direction of the front and press 1x on the unlocking button of the key. Now you should hear the sound of the central locking system and your vehicle will open. The programming of the key is done!

Well-protected by digital radio technology

Cars with keyless locking systems can easily be made more secure with digital wireless technology. This technology uses computer chips with ultra-wide-band (UWB) technology in the locking system, which can be used to determine the distance of the key to the car very precisely from the running time of the radio signals.  When using a radio extension as is the case with this form of car theft, the car no longer responds. Fortunately, since 2018 Jaguar Land Rover has been the first automaker to install this technology in new models. In addition to the Discovery, the same new keyless technology is also installed in the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport (each model year 2018), Jaguar E-Pace and i-Pace models, according to the manufacturer.

Check with the manufacturer

Since not all cars’ key systems work the same way, we recommend that you always check your manual or car dealership before you begin. This will save you time and effort in case your car’s keyless entry system differs from the models and procedure we described. 

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