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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

4 Easy Ways To Program & Replace Car Remotes

by Ralph April 21, 2021

The methods used to replace car remotes are coming closer and closer to how to replace car keys in general. As technology continues to head toward digitizing the physical world, it can be difficult to keep up with increasing complexity and variation. Though it is impossible to delve too deeply into how to replace the car remote of a specific vehicle, we will go over everything you need to know about how to replace car remotes generally enough to handle your specific situation.

You can replace car remotes at these locations:

  1. Auto Parts Store
  2. Online Seller
  3. Dealership
  4. Auto Locksmith

If you are looking at this article and wondering if you have to read it all, just know that you can skip the learning process and call a locksmith. A locksmith will be able to replace your car remote, handle any programming, unpair any lost remotes, and help you out with any other aspects of car key remote replacement. But for those who want to know more about the various options, be forewarned that there is very little specific information that can be given as to the finer points of car remote replacement. Processes change dramatically based on the make, model, and year of the vehicle.

How do I program a new car key remote?

Regardless of how you replace a car remote, you will need to decide how you intend to program it. This is best considered before you go through the process of buying parts. For example, you may need to replace a full set of keys, or you may need to suspend access to existing keys. These are more complicated issues and may require knowing more than where to get keys made near you. So before you replace your car remote, figure out how you intend to get it working.

DIY Car Remote Programming

Many online articles will claim there is some semi-universal way to program all car key remotes, but this is not the case. For example, a 2007 Honda Fit and a 2007 Honda Element do not have the same remote programming procedure. If two cars made in the same year by the same manufacturer don’t match, you can only imagine the variety in these protocols. For a comprehensive list of the various ways to program vehicles, you can use online resources such as programyourremote.com. Some of these processes may require a working key, and may not be possible to do yourself if you have lost your car keys and have no spare.

If you cannot find a specific guide for the make, model, and year of your vehicle, you will need to move on to professional car remote programming. A good sign that you can reprogram your replacement car remote is if you can purchase the parts yourself. For example, many keyless entry remotes are no longer self-programmable. But if you were able to buy a new smart key for your car, its availability is a good indication that DIY programming is viable.

When you replace a car key remote, programming the car key remote yourself is not always possible. The newer your vehicle, the less likely it is that you can program your replacement car remote without professional assistance. Not having any DIY programming options is most common for luxury manufactures and limited edition models.

Tips to reprogram your car key remote yourself:

  • Replace your car key remote.
  • Find specific programming instructions for your vehicle.
  • If you are unable to find programming instructions, call a locksmith/dealership.

Professional Car Remote Programming

As previously stated, most new cars only have the option of professional car remote programming. This works in your favor because once you replace your car remote, the best way to handle programming is to contact a professional who has experience with your vehicle. You can get full-service, and tackle any additional tasks tied to your car remote replacement. If you fear your remote may have fallen into the wrong hands, you can ask your technician about invalidating all existing remotes.

So who is the best professional to call for car remote programming? In cases where the car is still under warranty, the dealership could be your best option. But in all other cases, a locksmith is going to the preferable way to program your new car key remote. The dealership is more often than not the most expensive choice for any service, and key fob replacement is no exception to this rule.

Unlike the dealership technicians, a mobile locksmith can come directly to your location. This works great in emergency situations, as well as instances where your car won’t start because of an issue with the remote. Not only do you have added convenience by hiring a locksmith who will come to you, but they can also troubleshoot any other key or security-related issues you may be having.

Tips for professional car remote programming:

  • Your warranty or insurance may cover this service.
  • Locksmiths are more convenient and cheaper than dealership service.
  • A locksmith can provide a new car remote, car keys, programming, and additional assessments. 

1. Auto Parts Store

Using an auto parts store to replace car remotes is a good option because there is a chance that knowledgeable staff can assist you with product selection and programming instructions. In the best of cases, workers may even be able to find out why your car key is not working. You are less likely to find this type of service in the auto parts sections of big box stores, but it is still possible that they may have the car remote replacement you need.

If the remote you need is in stock or can be ordered, you can reduce the cost of new car keys even further by avoiding shipping costs. If you are looking to save money and get some level of professional service, replace your car key remote at an auto parts store. It is a good middle-of-the-road option. You can potentially get everything you need for the lowest price. And you have the best chance of successfully returning the product if it does not work.


  • Employees may be able to offer helpful information.
  • No shipping fees for in-store pickup.
  • You can still have a locksmith program the car key remote.
  • Return the product without shipping hassles.


  • May not carry your particular car remote.
  • You will not know whether a new remote will fix your issue.
  • Limited professional purchasing insight.
  • Cars must be driven to a physical location.

2. Online Seller

Many online retailers sell car key remotes. Even online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay sell car key remotes. With so many options, you have to be wary of the dangers of aftermarket electronic car keys. But with that danger comes the opportunity for the cheapest way to replace car remotes, and the widest variety of choice. And in terms of convenience, it doesn’t get much better than the new car key remote shipping to your front door.

You do not want to buy a car remote second-hand, which you can do online unknowingly. If a car key remote has already been programmed, chances are it cannot be programmed again. When you are looking for help understanding why your car remote is not working, buying replacement car remotes online will not put you in touch with professionals who can give you this information.


  • Variety of choice.
  • Cheapest available parts.
  • Products ship directly to you.


  • May not carry your particular car remote.
  • The remote may not arrive.
  • Remote may already be programmed.
  • Parts may not work.
  • No professional purchasing insight.

3. Dealership

Your car dealership should be able to get you a new remote directly from the manufacturer and have technicians present who can handle programming. Due to changes in industry standards and non-enforcement of certain “right to fix” legislation, certain modern cars may have keys that are kept unavailable to third-party sellers. That means when you replace lost or stolen car keys, you may only have one option: the dealership. But dealerships have been known to mislead customers into falsely believing car remotes, which are available to everyone, are monopolized by the dealer. Check with your local locksmith to find out real options to replace car remotes.

If you have a newer car, it may still be under warranty. This will allow you to replace your car key remote without paying the absurd dealership prices. If you do not have this incentive, there are very few reasons to choose the dealership to replace car key remotes. You can reduce key fob replacement costs by going with almost any other option on this list. However, you may not have a locksmith in your area that can get specialty or luxury car remotes. If the dealership is your only option, then it is your only option.


  • The remote will function.
  • Programming can be done immediately.
  • Vehicles under warranty may avoid fees.
  • Might be your only option.


  • Most expensive option.
  • Defunct manufacturers do not have dealerships.
  • Cars must be driven to a physical location.
  • Potentially misleading customer service.

4. Auto Locksmith

It might seem obvious that a locksmith blog would make the bold claim that an auto locksmith is the best choice to replace car remotes. But allow me to complicate your preconceptions by saying, you may be able to find a replacement car key remote through other means. Maybe an online distributor is selling parts at cost. It could happen. But even if you have already purchased a replacement car remote, a locksmith can still be necessary to deal with the subsequent programming.

That being said, a locksmith is often going to be the best option to replace your car remote. They are the only option that comes to your location immediately, and not only with a replacement car key remote but with the training and skill to program it. Also, let’s not forget that you may be locked out of your car as a result of your remote trouble. A locksmith can unlock your vehicle. And there is also a chance that replacing the remote will not completely fix your underlying issue. For example, when a car’s remote start is not working, the problem is not always the remote. So call the only expert that can come to you to troubleshoot your issue and find a solution.


  • A mobile locksmith can come to any location: residential or not.
  • Locksmiths have access to all available replacement parts.
  • Technicians can program your vehicle on location.
  • The car can be reprogrammed to invalidate lost or stolen keys.
  • A locksmith can troubleshoot your issue beyond car remote replacement.


  • United Locksmith may not service your area.
  • The car key remote may be unavailable. 

Closing Thoughts

You can’t always find your lost keys, and you shouldn’t go on without a working car key remote. If you have to manually lock your car, you increase the odds of locking yourself out of the vehicle, breaking a key in a lock, or forgetting to lock your car altogether. You need the security and convenience that a car key remote offers. Do not put off replacing your car remote another moment. Take the first step by calling United Locksmith today.

You can take this opportunity to plan for the future. Replacing car remotes is bound to become even more costly and difficult, consider using products that help you find your lost keys. Another good idea is to invest in a spare key. Spare keys and spare car remotes will allow you to more accurately diagnose whether or not the problem is with the car itself.

Category: Automotive, Car Keys

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