How to program a new Toyota transponder key

In need of an extra key for your Toyota? Avoid the dealer, they charge an arm and a leg for a simple procedure you can do yourself for free. Searching the web turned up a couple of techniques, but the one that worked for me was found in a youtube comment by user Nazareth434.

My car is a Toyota Matrix 2005 but apparently this procedure is valid for several Toyota models and years. If it did or did not work for you please let me know in the comments. And if nothing including this procedure has worked for you, don’t despair, at least your copy can open doors. Attach the key to a concealed spot under you car and save it for the “oops I’ve locked myself out”situation.

Procedure

First, you need a blank transponder key for your model and year. You can get one for 10$ or so through eBay or amazon. Then, have the key cut by your local hardware store and make sure it fits you ignition lock: you should be able to turn it all the way to the start position and hear the starter going without the engine turning on. With the master key (the black key, not the valet key, which is grey) and the copy in hand, install yourself in the driver’s seat and follow the procedure carefully. It took me about 30 minutes and many tries to get the steps right as there is timing involved. Persevere and and it should work.

  1. Insert the MASTER key in the ignition 5 times, leaving it IN the ignition on the 5th time. Do not turn the key. Don’t rush that step, do it slowly.
  2. Open and close the driver’s door 6 times, leaving the door closed on the 6th time.
  3. Remove the master key from the ignition. The security light should now be solid red to indicate programming mode. If it’s not, repeat from the beginning.
  4. Insert the new key in the ignition but don’t turn it. Do that step quickly as the computer only stays in this mode for a couple of seconds.
  5. The security light will resume blinking. After 60 seconds (maybe more, be patient), the light will stop blinking and turn off.
  6. Remove the new key, insert the master and turn the engine on and then off.
  7. Done! Test your new key. When you insert it, the security light should stop blinking and the car should start.

The theory

Its wrongly called programming a key but in fact, no key gets programmed by itself, its the car that gets programmed. Keys have an RFID emitter in them which outputs a unique identifier when prompted by the car’s anti-theft device’s reader upon insertion in the ignition. If that identifier is not in the car’s computer valid key identifier list, the car will not start.

What the procedure above does is putting the car’s anti-theft system in programming mode and then telling it that it should include the new key’s id in its list of permitted keys. This is done by doing a set of special steps with the master key in. If you possess the master key, chances are you are the master, but should you loose all you keys, there will be no way of starting the car again other than replacing the anti-theft computer; something the dealer will charge a lot for.

13 thoughts on “How to program a new Toyota transponder key

  1. Have you tried enough times? It took me 7-8 attempts to get the timing and the steps right. Maybe you opened the door or inserted the key one too many times. Otherwise, it’s possible that this will not work for your vehicle.

  2. The valet key cannot be copied into a master key. It’s purpose is to allow for a limited use of the vehicle. Allowing it to be copied would pose a security risk.

    I think you’re out of luck on this one. Maybe you could attempt to disable the anti-theft module?

  3. Why wouldn’t the valet key start the engine? The Valet key is for everything but opening compartments in the vehicle. My Valet key opens doors and starts the vehicle.

  4. Thanks for pointing out my mistake, I’ve updated the above comment to reflect your correction. Still, I’m pretty certain you cannot make key copies using a valet key but I’ll be happy if anyone proves me wrong.

  5. From experience, it takes many tries to get the timing and the steps right.

    Otherwise I’ll change the wording in my post to reflect that it might not work for all models. Should you encounter a technique that works for your car, I’ll be happy to add it to this post.

  6. My car is a 2004 Toyota Senita. This vehicle came with three keys, the master and two another. The master key is the only one that can start the engine. The others can only turn on the radio and open the door. I have now lost my master key. Can I programmed my the others key to start my vehicle.

  7. That’s odd as normally, I think cars come with two master keys and only one valet. Sadly, I think you’re out of luck but given the cost of replacing your starter system or having another key programmed for it by the dealer, trying to code in a new key with your valet is probably worth a try.

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