How to Program a Transponder Key Without Original

Car designs have gone a long way since the first one was built, but one of the most important is the invention of the transponder key. Before transponder key programming technology, cars were secured via mechanical means through the use of unique keys. Transponder keys added several layers of security to the traditional keys used to secure vehicles.

The way a transponder works is via radio signals and electronic chips in addition to the unique key grooves in the actual key itself. The transponder then provides an alphanumeric code to the ignition via the chip and activates it. This communication takes mere seconds and allows you to drive your vehicle.

Transponder keys, in combination with the physical key, are a serious upgrade to vehicle security. While it affords car owners an added sense of security, it can pose problems in case of loss or when the transponder key chip wears down over time. Unlike a standard mechanical key, it takes specialized equipment to have transponder keys programmed or duplicated.

However, there is no need to worry because we have scoured the internet and other knowledge bases to give you a short but comprehensive guide on how to program a transponder key without original. It is possible to learn how to program a transponder key yourself, but professionals achieve transponder programming operation through a transponder key bypass kit.

What cars have Transponder keys?

The technology behind transponder key programing was developed way back in 1985, but it is a relatively new technological achievement when you consider historical timeframes. It was not until about the 2000s that transponder keys became mainstream. Part of the reason this is the case that transponder keys are highly specialized affairs back then. The change started when the knowledge on how to program ford key with chip became available, as in 1996, almost every ford vehicle produced came with a transponder key.

By this time, other companies needed to step up their game or get left behind, and the race on how to program transponder keys became a feature almost every car company strives to include in their models. Wrangler followed Ford’s example, but transponders are marketed as an option only and not as standard. Wrangler only adopted the system as a standard in all of their vehicles much later in 2007.

Chrysler, Nissan, GM followed suit, although each has used different protocols in their transponder system. GM is also slower to learn how to program gm key without original, as they started offering optional transponder-equipped keys that began in 1997. Chrysler used the Mercedes-Benz transponder system on their cars, and that started it for them.

Japanese car manufacturers such as Honda and Toyota also got into the transponder key bandwagon and pretty soon were teaching toyota camry transponder key programming instructions. Not to be left behind, Honda started to disseminate information on how to program a honda accord key chip themselves.

Because transponder keys have an embedded transponder chip and electronics inside them, the keys themselves usually have a thicker handle ( the plastic section of the key). This becomes one of the main characteristics if the key is equipped with a transponder chip.

Differentiating keys or knowing whether or not your car has a transponder is no longer a problem nowadays. Almost a hundred percent of new vehicles are equipped with transponders as a stock or standard feature today. Now, only classic cars can be found with mechanical keys as their security and ignition systems.

Why are the original keys important?

The original transponder keys are critical and needed, especially when replacing them. The easiest way and fastest way on how to programme car keys would be if you have the original keys with you. We said it is the easiest but not impossible, and there are many resources on how to program a car key chip without the original. The bottom line is to take care of your transponder keys and, as much as possible, keep one of them handy for maintenance and replacement purposes.

The truth is that most car owners never realize how vital car key transponders are until it gets lost or it gets broken. These modern keys are assigned a unique electronic code, and they are not as easily replaced as traditional keys can. However, if you are one of those who lost their keys for some reason or another, worry not because we will talk about how we can go around that as you continue reading below.

How to program your transponder key without the original? A step-by-step process

To program a car transponder key without the original key, you need to have a vehicle that has a PATS 1 system. The PATS system, short for Passive Anti-Theft System, is a proprietary system introduced by Ford in 1996 and was applied as a standard for transponder systems in vehicles from its inception. Vehicles with the newer PATS 2 system will need a specialized programming device or a Key programming Machine to pull out codes if all the original keys are lost.

Programming a new key without the original transponder keys is called originating a key. While programming a key the way we will detail it below can only be done on a PATS 1 system, both systems can have duplicate transponder keys created. Once you have these duplicates and then you have a PATS 1-equipped vehicle, you can then follow the step-by-step instruction for how to program a key for your car below:

Originating a key

  • First Step:

Put the duplicate transponder key into your ignition and turn it into the ‘on’ position, leave this in that position for exactly 10 minutes and 25 seconds, no more no less. Remember to pay extra attention to the dash, as the vehicle’s security light indicator should also turn on as you turn the key. If in case the said light failed to illuminate, check your battery as it may need recharging or replacement.

  • Second Step:

Timing is important and as soon as you see the security light turning on, start a timer for 15 minutes because the security light SHOULD turn off after this time. The security light should have turned off at the 15 minute mark. Be aware of this time frame as well as with every timed instruction as it is quite critical.

  • Third Step:

Once the 15-minute timer is up, the security light should have gone off by then. Once the light goes off, you have exactly three minutes to turn off your ignition key and to turn it into the OFF position and then turn it back to the ON position. Remember to do this in the span of three minutes after the security light turns off. Once you have done this, the security light should come on again and be visible for 15 minutes before winking out.

  • Fourth Step:

After the second 15 minutes are up, the security light should have turned off again. Once again in a span of three minutes, complete turning off and turning on again of the ignition switch. Your security light should come off again after 15 minutes. Wait for 45 minutes after this and you can try on your newly programmed key after. After these steps, you should have a key programmed specifically to your vehicle’s transponder.

Duplicating your programmed key

After successfully originating a key from scratch, it is time to duplicate as a duplicate is often quite handy. Below are the complete steps in order to accomplish this.

  • Step 1:

Place your newly programmed transponder key into your ignition and turn it to the ‘on’ position for exactly 5 seconds. After that, turn it back to the ‘off’ position.

  • Step 2:

Repeat the step with the other working transponder key and take note of the timeframes. It helps if you have a stopwatch app or an actual stopwatch to follow the exact time to the second.

  • Step 3:

This would be the time to insert the transponder duplicate that you want to be a spare transponder key into the ignition switch. Turn it into the ‘on’ position while looking at the dash, the security light should turn on for 4 seconds before going off. This light turning on and off at that time frame indicates that your key is now properly programmed.

You can also watch videos like this to help out.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How do I know if my car key has a transponder?

While this used to be a problem, this is no longer the case now as 100% of cars manufactured as far back as ten years ago already have transponder keys as standard when they roll out the factory. If you look at how to program a chip key, there is a physical difference between the standard key and a transponder-equipped one. Transponder keys usually have a thicker plastic grip to encase the actual chip rather than an all-steel key. Other indicators are keyless entry capabilities; if your car can be opened just at the push of a button, it will indicate a transponder-equipped key. The price is also indicative because if your car key costs more than a regular steel key, chances are it is a transponder key. Trial and error will work as well; you can try starting your car with a standard key and see if it starts or no.

Also you can watch this video:

Can you program a transponder key with only one key?

The short answer is yes, but there are certain caveats before you can successfully do so. For one, you will need to have unique keys and a compatible car key programmer to pull off having just one key. The mileage varies with each car brand or manufacturer, as it will be different to program transponder key ford without original than a nissan transponder key programming. You must obtain prior knowledge on how other car brands do their car key programming to avoid costly mistakes, such as buying the wrong type of car key programmers. There are two critical things to consider, your car brand and the corresponding auto key programmer compatible with it.

Can you program a transponder key yourself?

If you have the equipment, yes, you definitely can. Having the equipment is one thing and having the know-how on using it is a different matter altogether, and we cannot stress enough how important this is. Car key programmers are not cheap machines, costing hundreds and even thousands of dollars to purchase. It would be a costly mistake to buy the wrong one indeed. You can do this by yourself, provided you know how to. While the process is usually automated and not complicated, the kind of vehicle you own may or may not complicate things further. In addition, the transponder key, in the end, can only activate your car and do nothing else.

Can you bypass the transponder key?

This can be done in several ways, but you have to remember that this requires familiarity with vehicular wiring systems. One way is to rewire your vehicle’s ignition system completely. When this is done, the technician will install a bypass kit for your particular vehicle model. It is important to remember that each vehicle differs a little from the other; for instance, how to program vw key transponder will be different when it comes to how to program transponder key honda, and so on and so forth.

Another method includes hot gluing the plastic part of your damaged key near the ignition to trick the system into sensing the transponder in close proximity. When the transponder is near the ignition, you can start the car with plain cut keys that will fit into the tumblers. This will work but it is a temporary and dangerous way to go about this. In most cases a bypass kit will work. But it is always recommended that a professional should be consulted when doing so.

How much does it cost for a dealership to program a key?

As with all things that concern transponder keys, the cost is the same, where it always matters with the car manufacturer. Sometimes other brands are cheaper to fix, and others are more complicated and therefore can cost a lot more. The most expensive car brands can go up to $ 5000 or even more, such as a BMW. A Lexus may only cost less than $500, and some other brand will go for $ 2500. So in terms of how to program a car key, It depends on the brand and the complexity of the ignition system. As you can see, it can be a costly affair, and perhaps this can encourage you not to take your car keys for granted.


Programming a transponder key without the original can be expensive, and even more so when you do not have the original transponder keys. We hope that the step-by-step guide we painstakingly compiled above can go a long way into saving you some money, as well as keeping you informed as to how you can program transponder keys even without the original. At the same time, we also encourage our readers to take extra care of their vehicle’s transponder key fobs. Having the original keys makes it so much easier to program new ones, not to mention saving a few hundred bucks in the process.

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