Simple key replacement at the dealership failed. Couldn't program key- still not running

I did a dumb thing a couple of weeks ago and drilled a hole in the middle of the handle of my key to put it on my keyring (handle was broken). I’m an idiot, lesson learned. Stuck it in the ignition, tried to turn it, it obviously wouldn’t start. Realizing I am stupid, I sent it off to the dealership to get a new key made.

What should have been a 200 dollar repair turned into 1400. They cut the key and tried to program it and apparently it would not work. They thought it was a problem with the wiring in the ECM, so they ran all the wires and found nothing wrong. They said it might be the ECM itself and replaced it with a new one. Still not working.

They’re trying to charge me a ton for labor but I don’t have a car that works. Before I throw up my hands in frustration is there ANYTHING that could be the issue here that the dealership is missing.

I have had a persistent problem with the air blowing on max no matter what for about 6 months- they vaguely said that may have had something to do with it.

The air blowing on max is most probably a relay and not related to this issue.

The car was starting fine with the other key, yes? So the air has nothing to do with it.

I think the dealer is not competent enough to program your new key, seems like the ECU change was not necessary. Time for them to man up and fix the problem. They should call another dealer or a locksmith to tell them how to do this probably. And if I am right, you should have only paid the $200 and nothing else.


Yes, it ran reliably up to the day I drilled a hole in the key. They gave me some vague stuff about how the hole being in the key may have sent a signal that ‘fried’ the ECM of the car or something like that. But they replaced the ECM and it still didn’t work so somehow I doubt that.

I tried asking simple questions like: Are you sure you have the right key, could it be the NATS system, and they shot me down… They said, “We have our master shop foreman who has worked with Nissans for 20 years and he can’t figure it out.”

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I think they are trying to take advantage of your mistake and the fact that you are admitting to it :slight_smile:

We all goof up at times, don’t beat yourself up.

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How would this be any different than a key being missing or anything like that, though? Surely they program hundreds of keys a year.

Do you have an aftermarket remote start etc.?

Bought it used, but I don’t think so. It’s a key in the ignition turn to start type of thing, none of this new tomfoolery.

I kind of doubt the shop foreman actually worked on the car. Sounds like a line to me

But if he did, and HE can’t properly replace a key and program a new module, then I would say the whole shop is hopeless


I have no idea why they replaced Engine Control Module.

The ECM has nothing to do with the vehicle starting or not.

The Body Control Module determines if the engine starts or not.

The BCM is the gate keeper of the Controller Area Network.

The BCM is what allows all the other computers/modules to communicate with each other.

So it may be that the BCM needs a reprogram/replacement to resolve the problem.


In my amateur view, this sounds like a rip-off. A busted key will not “fry” anything. They should put your old ECM back in, and they should credit you back everything, and they should apologize. Call Nissan Regional offices. And then have a locksmith fix it.

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Do you think that could be the case, considering it was starting just fine immediately prior to me inserting the bad key?

I can’t say for sure.

I’ve never had a customer drill into a programed ignition key.


what I recall learning when I though my 2006 Pathfinder ECM is failing, was that NATS security system is embedded into ECM, at least on that generation of Nissans, as repair shop specifically said that if they would need to replace my ECM, they would be able to de-solder the NATS chip from one and re-solder to another, so I would not need to reprogram my keys. in the end my ECM was found to pass 100% of tests with flying colors and problem was much more mundane, but the point is that NATS may be in ECM

just googling for a minute, it seems that some Nissans have NATS in ECM and some in BCM, depending on model/generation

anyway, whole story sounds like a complete BS on dealer side about “hole in key frying NATS”

in this situation I would have called a locksmith, which is half the price of dealer and always more knowledgeable about key reprogramming to compare to guys also dealing with failed transmissions and blown tires, not to mention for a very reasonable fee they would come up to the vehicle and fix keys up right at home

Any clue if them taking out my old ECM, putting in a new one, and putting my old one back in is gonna cause any problems for the locksmith? At this point I suppose that’s pretty much the route I’m going to go. The more I read the more I think these guys don’t have a clue about what they’re doing.

that kind of brings a different perspective if your good key was not working after the bad one…

I had my daughter to call from some friend’s house recently, where his car was cranking fine, but not getting engine to run. instructed them to release shift-lock manually and try starting in N position, problem fixed until that poor guy will get to some repair shop to find that 2010 RAV4 shifter position switch costs ~$350 plus labor… sorry for getting to the side issue, but from his perspective it looked exactly the same: car was working just fine minute ago, now it cranks like new, battery is strong, not a single fire of the cylinder… how about that as another potential problem coinciding with your drilling exercise?

Well, in this case my good key is the bad key. I drilled a hole in it.

from your words I [mistakenly] deduced that you had two keys, from which one was with a new custom-made hole in it and another one stopped working too

next time call a locksmith, will be less trouble

update: Nissan FSM mentions you have to have Consult III programming tool for you to be able to work on keys, but a lockal [non-chain] locksmith only smiled and said “I will add you another key into you Niossan in 5 minutes and $90”, and after he did the same in my Mazda, I’m confident he will do what he promised… did not get to him with my Pathfinder yet

Well, in a way you’re right- the dealership cut a new key but essentially could not get it to program to the car.

I believe whoever at the dealer is working on your car . . . and I have a hunch it is NOT the foreman . . . is lost

But they don’t want to admit that, so they threw more parts at the vehicle, in desperation, but it didn’t work.

And they fed you that hogwash . . . drilling a hole in the key supposedly fried a module . . . I don’t think so

There is no way that even the most sophisticated key fob is capable of destructing the car’s ECU under any condition. This would be a bizarre design flaw.

To me, it is back to square one, you have an Altima in need of a new key fob being programmed.