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Vehicle Remotes

All vehicles come with a keyless entry system these days. Normally you get two…one for the driver, and one as a spare. These are pretty important little devices, often able to open and close doors, honk the horn or start the car. Given their their commodity nature, it should be fairly easy to replace them, right? Well…no, but only because the auto industry gets in the way.

The truth is, most vehicle remotes are fixed-function devices and are not programmable. They are associated with a car by putting the car into “learn” mode and having it learn the identity of the remote(s) it should respond to. And that's a very simple process.

In the case of my vehicle (a 2003 Mazda Tribute), here are the steps needed:

  1. get in the car and close the doors
  2. insert the key and cycle it between “off” and “run ” 8 times in less than 10 seconds, ending with the key in 'run'
  3. the car will lock and unlock the doors to say it is in learn mode
  4. push the lock button on the remote
  5. the car will lock and unlock the doors to say it has learned the remote
  6. turn off the key

But the auto industry likes to hide these tricks from consumers. You can't get this information by calling a dealer. Or their repair shop. Instead they'll charge you $100 to $200 to “program your remote”. Ironic…since they're actually programming your car's computer and not the remote.

Anyway…it pays to be a smart customer and do these things yourself. For example: a new remote for my vehicle costs $80 in the dealership, or $30 for the exact same remote online. And “programming” it at the dealership costs $129, versus $0 for doing it yourself.

Buyer beware.

/home/cfreyer/public_html/data/pages/personal/vehicle_remotes.txt · Last modified: 2011/09/19 16:55 by Chris Freyer