Last Updated: 06.04.2022

Wondering how to program a transponder key without the original? Programming a transponder key without the original takes four simple steps. All you need is a functional laptop, a timer, a USB connection, a matching transponder key or a master key, and the owner’s manual. 

This process takes 50 minutes at most; otherwise, you should be able to get your key functioning in less than 45 minutes. 

What You’ll Need:

Ensure you have the following essential tools before you begin the process: 

  • The master key or a matching transponder key cut out.
  • A PATS 1 or PATS 2 system.
  • A fully-charged battery capable of extended power supply.
  • The owner’s manual.

Next, use these tools as follows: 

Firstly, the master key or a matching transponder key cut out is the blueprint for programming another functional key. So, you must have this key to begin the process. 

Secondly, you should identify the type of PATS system fitted in your vehicle. Working on the key with the PATS 1 system requires ordinary programming software installed on a PC. While the newer PATS 2 system will require a specialized programming device or a Key Programming Machine to decrypt the codes of the original key.

The PATS system (Passive Anti-Theft System) is a proprietary system developed by Ford back in 1996. Other automakers adopted this pioneer invention as a standard for transponder systems in vehicles. 

Thirdly, mount a fully-charged battery in your car to ensure an uninterrupted power supply during the key programming process. If your battery dies in the middle of the process, the programming sequence is disrupted, and you’d have to repeat the whole procedure.

Once you get everything in order, you can follow the steps below to program your transponder key. 

Step-By-Step Process to Program the Transponder Key WITHOUT the Original

Step 1: Insert the blank transponder key into the ignition slot

insert the blank transponder key into the ignition slot

Insert the key and switch it to the “ON” position. Pause at ON position for exactly 10 minutes and 25 seconds. Ensure your dashboard and the vehicle’s security light are turned on as you switch the key to the “ON” position.

At this stage, lights should remain on in the dashboard and the security system. The continuous presence of lights indicates successful programming up to that point. 

Absent or unstable lighting in the dashboard suggests a problem, such as insufficient power supply or a dysfunctional wiring system. So, you should discontinue the process if you don’t get continuous lighting on your dashboard and the security system. 

Step 2: Switch it off and on again

switch it off and on again

Before the timer gets to 10 minutes 45 seconds, switch the key to the “OFF” position and back to the “ON” position again. Repeat this process once again to match the key with the security lock. 

After that, ensure the security light is turned on for 15 minutes. Use a reliable timer to accomplish this. Turning the ignition to the “OFF” position before the lapse of 15 minutes will complicate the programming process. As a result, you’d have to go back to step 1.

Step 3: Check security light

check the security light

Your security light should go off after 15 minutes. If it doesn’t go off as expected, there must be an issue with your programming, and you’d have to recheck. 

In a span of 3 minutes after the security light goes off, turn your ignition to the “OFF” position and then to the “ON” position again. This action turns on your security light. After that, the lights should automatically go off after 15 minutes. 

Step 4: Turn on security light

turn on the security light

After the security light goes OFF again, switch the key to the “OFF” position and then to the “ON” position again. This action turns on the security light, which should illuminate for 15 minutes before automatically going off.

At the end of the cumulative 45 minutes, the key should be programmed to the vehicle’s PATS system.

Once you’ve successfully programmed your third transponder key, all the previous key codes are bypassed; thus, they become dysfunctional after this point.

Like in every lock-and-key situation, keeping a duplicate key somewhere safe is advisable to ensure you are not held up if you lose or misplace the first transponder key. 

The process explained above is simplified when you have the original transponder key. Let’s look at how the process changes in the presence of the original key. 

Step-By-Step Process to Program the Transponder Key WITH the Original (Transponder Key Duplication)

Step 1: Enter your vehicle with the two programmed keys and the blank one to be worked on.

Step 2: Insert the original transponder key into the ignition slot and switch it to the “ON” position for 5 seconds. Then, turn it back to the “OFF” position and remove the key from the ignition slot. 

 Step 3: Insert the second transponder key into the ignition slot for exactly 5 seconds. This step allows the second inserted key to copy the program codes of the first transponder key. The timing should be exact; therefore, you should have a functional stopwatch.

Step 4: Insert the third transponder key (to be duplicated) into the ignition slot within 10 seconds and turn it to the “ON” position. This should turn on the dashboard and security light for approximately 4 seconds before going off automatically. 

The on and off switching of the security light within 4 seconds indicates a successful duplication of the transponder key.

Step 5: Do not remove the third key immediately. Delay until the security light comes on, then pause for another three seconds. Before you remove the key, test it by starting the car. 

Note: Modern car designs are fitted with key programming systems, which allow the owner to program and reprogram the transponder key at any given time. 

So, how do you reprogram your transponder key?

Step-by-Step Process to Reprogram Your Transponder Key

Step 1: Get in the car with your transponder key and navigate the PATS system to program mode. Ensure you have the owner’s manual since the steps to reprogram the key vary with car models, and you’ll need precise instructions to accomplish this. 

Step 2: Insert the key into the ignition slot and turn it to the “ON” position. Then, leave it in the “ON” position for 10 minutes and 30 seconds. 

Step 3: Before the timer gets to 10 minutes and 45 seconds, switch to the “OFF” position. Go back to the “ON” position again and wait for another 10 minutes and 30 seconds. 

Step 4: While in the “OFF” position, revert to the “ON” and back to the ‘OFF” position again. Ensure to do all these before the timer gets to 45 seconds. 

Step 5: Turn it to the “ON” spot, then to the “OFF” and back to the “ON” position again. 

Now, your key is reprogrammed, and you can start the car with the new code combination.

Also, recent automobile designs enable owners to bypass the immobilizer. While immobilizer bypassing is necessary to improve the driver’s convenience, the ability to bypass the car’s security system undermines the existing anti-theft procedures. 

Steps to Bypass the Immobilizer

Step 1: Slot your key in the driver’s side of the door lock. 

Step 2: Ordinarily unlock your car door but don’t release the key. Hold the key in that position for 30 seconds. This 30-second delay will allow the system to authenticate the key, thus allowing you to go through the alarm system undetected. 

Other car models enable authentication through back and forth switching of the key in the door lock cylinder. You can also switch the key both ways to disable the vehicle’s PATS system. 

Step 3: Then, remove the key and start the engine while the door lock cylinder remains in the unlocked position. Now, you have bypassed the immobilizer, and you can go about your driving business as usual. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to have original keys?

Having original keys is equivalent to taking maximum control of your vehicle’s security. Importantly, original keys possess the manufacturer’s transponder configurations characterized with top security features. 

Unlike the programmed and reprogrammed key codes, original encryptions carry proprietary privileges, making it hard for thieves and other unauthorized parties to operate the car. 

However, this does not suggest that programmed and reprogrammed transponder keys are inferior to their original copies. In fact, the reprogramming allowance enables owners to personalize and add more security features in a single key. 

Nonetheless, the presence of the initial transponder configurations safeguards your vehicle against the cunning hacking activities that come with technological advancement.

How do I know if my car is fitted with a transponder system?

You can know if your car is fitted with a transponder system by scrolling through its computerized hub. The digital hub should immediately indicate the presence of a PATS system. 

You can check the key’s plastic section manually to detect the presence of a transponder chip. You can also wrap the plastic enclosure with a thick foil to see if it prevents signal transmission with the car’s ignition system. If this involvement does not interfere with the normal functioning of the key, then it probably doesn’t have an added layer of security, which is the PATS system.

Nearly all high-end car models are fitted with the PATS system that operates with the transponder key chip. 

Which car models are fitted with transponder keys and PATS system?

Ford originally invented the transponder key and PATS system in 1996. Therefore, nearly all Ford series come with these added security features. As of 2001, all Ford Rangers required transponder keys to operate. 

Wrangler Jeep also adopted the transponder key system as early as 1998 for its high-end models. As of 2007, all Wrangler Jeeps operated with the transponder keys. 

Currently, the transponder system has been adopted by nearly all automakers. Common examples include Nissan Titan, Chrysler Crossfire, Mercedes Benz, Toyota, BMW, and Chevrolet series, among other brands. 

Can I program the key myself, or do I need to see my mechanic?

Programming the transponder key is not a complicated process. So, you can do it yourself as long as you have all the required items. Importantly, you should have the owner’s manual since programming the key varies with vehicle models.

The owner’s manual guides you through the manufacturer’s stipulated procedure for programming the key; hence it is convenient for the DIY procedures.

However, the cars fitted with PATS 2 systems require specialized programming software or programming kits, which must be operated by tech experts or professional locksmiths. Also, you need the intervention of a professional locksmith if you need to bypass your car’s PATS system without the transponder key.

Can you bypass the PATS system without a transponder key?

Yes, you can bypass your vehicle’s PATS (Passive Anti-theft System) system without a key if you are familiar with the process. However, PATS bypass is a complicated process, which must be handled by professional mechanics or auto locksmiths.

Nearly all PATS systems are embedded in the car key. Therefore, each transponder key carries a single identifying code with up to 18 billion combinations. This complexity makes it impossible to bypass without the proper authentication and due diligence. Basically, PATS is a passive system since it does not prompt the driver to operate it; it performs the security functions away from the ordinary driving operation. 

Also, check out our guide on resetting the car radio without code. Another helpful DIY skill that you can learn is how to unlock the steering wheel without key


Programing a transponder key without the original is a fairly simplified procedure, provided you have all the necessary tools. With a functional laptop, a timer, a USB connection, and a matching transponder key, you should be able to program your key without an original. The whole process takes at least 45 minutes. 

The PATS system also enables you to reprogram your original transponder key at any given time. This random reprogramming is necessary for updating the car’s security system. You can also duplicate your transponder key using a relatively similar process.