How easy is it to program chip keys on most cars?

I recently programmed two spare chip keys for my Mitsubishi Mirage. It came with two factory keys and I misplaced one for a while. Anyway, you need two programmed keys to make a spare so I ordered two blanks as soon as I located the key. I have been told the dealer wants several hundred dollars to replace a key if you don’t have two on hand.

Anyway, it was extremely easy. The hardest part was finding someone around to cut a key that they didn’t provide. I guess there is liability if a chip key is destroyed and they want nothing to do with it. Anyway, someone at Lowes did it and charged me for the cheapest key they had so it cost me like $3 or so each to have these cut. I didn’t pay that much more than these for the blanks online and they were the Iilco brand so I assume these are good as you see that brand all over when it comes to keys.

Once the key is cut, you basically program the car to recognize the chip in the key. The process took like a minute or so per key. You take the first working key and turn to the on position for several seconds. An indicator blinks on the dash. You remove that key and insert the second good key and do the same. After this, you take the newly cut key and do the same. After about 30 seconds an indicator light goes off. You turn the key to off and then back to start and she fires right up.

The only issue is that these do not have the keyless entry function but I wasn’t as worried about that for the spare. It is just a key with a plain black head. It looks like programming for the keyless entry is more of a pain and likely more costly no matter how it is done.

I always assumed that programming keys was a bigger deal and that it was the key itself being programmed and not the car. Are cars different in how this is done or is the process all about the same? I see they sell costly key programming machines but is this more for the keyless entry portion and such and not the actual key?

I also have a plain key that will open the door but not start the car as well for if I am out on the river and it gets dunked.

I was just surprised by how easy this process was and that the hard part was getting someone to cut my key blanks. This is a pretty simple car and that is one thing I like about it but I cannot see this being too different than all the others. Of course I had to order a chip key with the appropriate chip that my car recognizes so there are obviously differences.

Has anyone been through a similar process with a different car?

Yes. I changed the instrument panel on my '13 Mustang. The key programming resides in the IP which means I had to program MY 2 keys into the IP rather than the 2 already programmed for the car that donated the IP. This required a laptop computer and software from Forscan, a “Ford centric” OBD software provider. At that point it was pretty simple to add my 2 keys.

Interesting… Would the laptop computer and software have been required if the two keys from the donor panel been present?

OF course this would involve having to change the ignition switch or having it re-keyed as well.

No, but as you correctly identified, the ignition and door cylinders would need to be changed.

The key (no pun intended) to programming a new key is having a ‘good’ key. Loose both, very difficult.
Me? I could not even program a second fob, much less a key.

I had to reprogram one key on my 2002 Miata after it stopped working to open the trunk. Replacing its battery was no help. The info came from a Miata forum and, while it seems like patting your belly and rubbing your head at the same time, while whistling Yankee Doodle, it worked.

2001 Mazda Miata Key Fob Programming Instructions

  1. Remove key from ignition.
  2. Close all doors.
  3. Open driver side door and leave open.
    4 Perform the following steps within 24 seconds.
    A. Insert key in ignition.
    B. Turn key to ON and OFF.
    C. Repeat step b two more times.
    D. Remove key.
    E. Push driver door frame button three times (black rubber button located on driver door frame that tell the vehicle whether or not door is closed.)
  4. Buzz sound, chime or doors will lock and unlock should be heard at this point signaling that the vehicle is now in programming mode. If not, wait 40 seconds and return to step 4.
  5. All transmitters need to be programmed at this time, including the old ones. Push any button on the transmitter two times. A buzz sound, chime or doors locking and unlocking should be heard at this point signaling that the vehicle has accepted the new transmitter code. If there is only one transmitter, repeat this step two more times using the only transmitter. If there are two transmitters, repeat this step two more times using the second transmitter.
  6. Push driver door frame button one time. Two buzz sounds, chimes or doors locking and unlocking 2 times should be heard at this point signaling successful programming.

I programed a 3rd key for my 2019 F-150. It wasn’t difficult. The charlatan Ford dealer quoted me $389 to produce a new key. That seemed a bit steep given what’s involved. So I bought an OEM keyfob on Amazon for $90. Had it cut at a local locksmith (it’s one of those flat/high-security blanks that the machines at Home Depot can’t duplicate. Then proceeded to program it using my two existing keys. The programing process took all of 15 seconds.

Whenever I have key fob issues, I have a local locksmith who can fix it for me.

It may be more expensive, but to me it’s simpler and eliminates the frustration.

It sounds like the process varies from make to make but isn’t rocket science for the most part.

For now, I just wanted another programmed key in case I lost one so that I could make a new one. How hard is it to make another fob if I ever wanted that or one stopped working? This might be where the key programming machines are required???

Bought a spare key for gm, dealer cost 80 to reprogram, locksmith cut a new key and programmed it for free, Took him a minute, and he is like I can’t believe the dealers charge to do this. Maybe $20 total.

I bought a 3 pack of keys online for like $20. Paid Lowes $7 or so to cut them… Then I programmed in like a minute or so per key… It was super easy but I don’t have a key fob to remote unlock/lock the car on these keys but they will work to make another key if I happen to lose one. You have to have TWO working keys to program a new one. I guess this is a safety measure so a valet or someone you loaned the car can’t make a new key or something. Who would try to steal a Mitsubishi Mirage though compared to other more valuable cars? The resale prices of these things are pretty crazy right now with the car shortages and high gas prices. Examples with 90K miles on them are selling for more than I paid for mine new right now.