You have a car key, but it is already programmed. So how do you get this programmed key to work with a different vehicle? There is a lot to unpack with a topic like this, including whether or not it is possible to reprogram your car key.

There is quite a bit to cover on this topic. And for the fullest experience, you should certainly read everything. But if you are in a rush, feel free to jump to the section that best aligns with the information you are looking for. Just be sure not to cut too many educational corners and end up making a programming error.

Can You Reprogram Car Keys When They Are Already Programmed?

Yes, it is possible to take a car key that is already programmed and reset it to work with a different vehicle. However, there are limitations you will encounter with certain makes and models. It mainly comes down to how the electronics are designed on the key.

On top of the design, the electronics have to be working properly in the replacement key. If you have to reprogram car keys, that means it is a used key by definition. If it is used, it has the potential to be damaged. Damage or loss of functionality is one of the main dangers of aftermarket electronic car keys.

Requirements To Reprogram Car Keys:

  • The key must be designed for your vehicle’s make, model, and year.
  • All electronics must be in working order.
  • Keys cannot be designed to prevent reprogramming.
  • Self-programming almost always requires a spare car key.
  • Certain luxury vehicles only allow dealerships to program keys.

Car Keys That Need To Be Reprogrammed

Electronic car keys have gone through two main phases. The first is a blend of physical and electronic known as transponder keys or chip keys. And the most recent trend is to make the key completely virtual with the use of a car key fob, which has no blade.

But whether you need to replace a car key or remote, we will give a brief description and overview of these two main key types, so you understand them a little better. For example, see the difference when you reprogram car keys versus programming and replacing car remotes.

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1. Transponder Car Keys

If you have an ignition key with a metal blade, take a look at the bow of the key. The bow is the wide circular or rectangular part you grip to turn the key when it is inserted. Sometimes the bow has a car key remote built into it, other bows will have a plastic cover (most often black).

The transponder chip for a key will be placed inside one of these bow covers. Therefore, these covers are the best visible indicator that you will need transponder key programming if you are replacing this type of key.

2. Car Key Fob

If you have a car key fob to start your vehicle, you don’t need to look at the key. Rather, take a look at your ignition. If it is a push to start button rather than a keyhole, then you know you are dealing with a key fob. But it can be trickier to reprogram car key fobs because they have more potential security controls.

Car key fob replacement is already more restricted by auto manufacturers with less access to new parts and programming equipment. But there are even certain companies that keep existing fobs from being reprogrammable. Some key fobs can only be programmed once.

Reprogram Car Key With Transponder Chip

The first issue you are going to run into has to do with transponder keys that physical keys that are already cut cannot be recut. And as a general rule, transponder keys have to be cut to fit an ignition before they can be programmed. Read more automotive locksmith maryland.

For this reason it is difficult to lower the cost of car key duplication by purchasing used parts. Certainly, in almost every case, you can avoid paying the dealership prices for your new car key, but you can’t trust online sources for parts as readily.

But for the sake of argument, say you have a transponder key that was programmed without being cut (which is possible, though unlikely). Here is the general process you would use to reprogram a car key with a transponder chip.