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2011 Subaru Outback replacement keys

I recently purchased a slightly used 2011 Subaru Outback. I really like the car so far. But unfortunately the previous owner only turned in one key when they traded it in. I went to my local Subaru dealer to get a second key and there were two pretty expensive choices. I could get a key with the lock and unlock buttons, or a plain key with no buttons(they called it a valet key). I opted for the much less expensive valet key and had it programed at the dealer.

I discovered shortly thereafter that when I use the new valet key to unlock the car door after locking it earlier with the other key or the lock button on the door that the car alarm goes off. Every time.

I went back to the dealer and asked them to fix this so that the alarm does not go off, and after several hours they told me that the security system is programed to do this intentionally and the key works just fine. They said that if I don’t want the alarm to go off when I use the valet key that I need to manually lock the doors with the valet key every time, and then unlock them with the valet key. This seems to me to defeat the point of having two keys if I always have to lock and unlock the car using only one of them.

Has anyone else had trouble with the valet key and the alarm like this? Does anyone know of a way to fix the problem with the alarm going off when using the valet key after locking the doors with the other key?

Cheap is expensive, my Mom taught me that and it is a lesion I have learned over and over. What the dealer is saying makes sense (sort of), because I don’t think the “alarm” is activated when you just turn the key. If you manually lock the door with the either key it should not sound the alarm when unlocked. However if you use the keyless entry to lock the car, it should arm the alarm and unlocking it manually may sound the alarm.

With that said I would ask them to show you this with a new car on their showroom. All of them have a Valet key and if it does not act the same way as yours does the problem is with your car.

You can see the freight-train coming…Junk yards full of mechanically serviceable cars that have suffered some electronics failure that nobody can fix but render the car undrivable…

+1, Caddy. Very true.

Some manufactures no longer use a disarm switch on the door lock cylinder. This is why after the alarm is set with the remote the door shouldn’t be opened manually, with the key, coat hanger or lock out tool. This is to reduce costs and because nearly everyone uses a remote to lock/unlock the doors.

Page 2-16 of the owners manual shows how to deactivate the the the alarm.

silvermarsh wrote:
This seems to me to defeat the point of having two keys if I always have to lock and unlock the car using only one of them

I’m not sure that I agree. It appears that they designed your valet key to be used by a valet, in which case this problem wouldn’t occur.

@lion9car - The term “valet key” is a misnomer. A valet can’t do anything with the valet key, because they’re not meant to actually even start the car. The valet key will allow somebody you don’t trust to get something out of your car for you, without being able to drive the car off. So, that key will unlock the doors, but not start the car.

But, back to the original question, +1 for ragtop. The original key will set and arm the alarm, which can then only be disarmed by using the original key. So, if you use the valet to unlock the car after using the other to lock it, the alarm will go off. Just the same, if you put the windows down, lock the car with the original key, and reach inside to open the door from the inside, the alarm will go off.

Does that defeat the purpose of buying a 2nd key? More than likely, yes. For the money it would cost to get the expensive key cut and programmed, my life is simpler just having ONE key.

"my life is simpler just having ONE key."

Until you lose it.

I don;t know the answer to your valet key dilema, but I know that a good lock company will provide and program a new key for you cheaper than a car dealer.
If you can find the right “chipped” key blank online any hardware store can cut it for you and many owners manuals tell you how to program it.

CCarr wrote:
The term “valet key” is a misnomer. A valet can’t do anything with the valet key, because they’re not meant to actually even start the car.

I’m afraid this has never been true for any car that I owned. The valet key will start the car just fine. What it won’t do is open locked compartments such as the glovebox. For valet use, this is exactly what you want.

I had a Nissan Altima that came with a valet key. It actually did the exact opposite in that someone could open the trunk, door, glovebox but not start the engine. The engine key was ‘chipped’.
Up until now it I guessed it was such to make sure Valets could steal your valuables without breaking things…

RemcoW, that sounds like a “credit card key”, one that can be carried in a walet for emergency use like if the master key is locked inside the car.

Yeah, that makes more sense.

@Caddyman :

You can see the freight-train coming…Junk yards full of mechanically serviceable cars that have suffered some electronics failure that nobody can fix but render the car undrivable…

A little extreme for a chipped key, isn’t it?

There’s nothing wrong with this car, and it’s still drivable. It’s operating as intended. It is not technology’s fault that the previous owner can’t keep track of his belongings.

I don’t think there is a simple sol’n to your question @silvermarsh. The key-thing is part of the designed-in security system. If it was easy to defeat the security system, folks could steal your car.

About the only thing I can say is that these new-fangled key systems are violating the famous physicist’s Albert Einstein’s philosophy: Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler.

The old-style metal keys in a lock worked fine. That was “simple as possible”. We live in an age where designed-in simplicity isn’t valued as much as it probably should be. And there’s a price to paid.

Hi,
I’m back - thanks for the comments everyone. Some additional information -
The less expensive key was not “cheap” at $175.
Since I had the key programmed at the dealer, it does in fact open the car door even though the alarm is going off. And the dealer told me that if I get in and start the engine with the valet key the alarm will stop sounding. I’m waiting for a convenient day to test this because I think my car is also equiped with some sort of imobilizer feature and I don’t want to get stuck without transportation to work the next day.
What I usually use the second key for is to leave with the mechanic who changes the oil and does other maintenance on the car. I don’t like handing over my regular set of keys with my house and office keys that I might need during the day before I get the car back.

Thanks for the point to the owner’s manual about turning off the alarm. I’ll download that and read.
Does anyone know if it damages the car to go ahead and use the valet key to start the ignition while the alarm is going off?
At this point I was kind of hoping for some sort of remote key fob that I could attach to the valet key to turn off the alarm, mostly because I don’t like the noise. It’s loud irritates everyone. Is there anything compatible with a Subaru?

Silvermarsh:
Was the replacement key you got for $175 from a dealer or a locksmith?

I found our valet key did absolutely nothing when dropping off our 2005 Legacy at body shop It started the car for 10 seconds and engine stopped with security light flashing. Maybe you have to to disarm the alarm to use it first. Never bothered opening manual.

@raj then your key was not programed to the car. You have/had a bad key that needs to be reprogramed.