Our Guide to Replacing and Programming Your Car Remote

Automatic car remotes have become ubiquitous worldwide. These remotes function entirely differently from traditional car keys, and in many ways, they’re an excellent technological upgrade. However, many owners realize the biggest drawback of the car remote only when the worst occurs—when they are locked out of their car.

The automatic locking mechanism of nearly every modern vehicle cannot be fiddled with by anyone but a professional locksmith. So if you lose your car remote for any reason, what are your options? How do you replace a car remote and program it to work on your specific vehicle?

Replacing an Automatic Car Remote

Once upon a time, car owners could just walk into any key duplicating store and make as many copies of their car keys as they wanted. Those days are long over, and automatic car remotes have made life just a little bit more complicated for car owners, dealers, and repair shops alike.

If your car’s model is more than five years old, there’s a good chance you will be able to buy a generic remote in online stores. Once the remote fob is delivered to you, you can then take it to a local dealer or repair shop for programming. A locksmith or mechanic may offer you a much better price than a new car dealer.

If you need to replace a key, check your car’s warranty and insurance policy to see if replacement key fobs are covered. You may be able to get partial reimbursement.

Programming Car Remotes

When it comes to programming a new remote for your car, you have several options. It’s technically possible to do it yourself, and there are many comprehensive online resources you can use, especially if your vehicle is more than ten years old.

If you can’t find a specific programming guide for your vehicle, it’s time to turn to professionals for full-service replacement, reprogramming, and invalidating all existing remotes. Most programming services cover multiple remotes so you can make several copies for your vehicle.

Here are some car remote programming options to choose from:

1. Local Repair Shop

Auto parts stores likely have personnel with the necessary expertise to replace and reprogram remote fobs. You can order your parts through them or acquire them on your own, depending on their pricing model. These stores likely offer just about any reprogramming service you need, and you’ll have the option for return or replacement if the product doesn’t work.

2. Car Dealership

If your car was manufactured in the last three to five years, you might not have any other choice but to go to a local car dealership to replace a lost car remote. More and more modern vehicle parts are not available to third-party sellers, and owners are forced to go to their local dealership for everything they need. This is the most expensive option on this list, but you are assured of a programmable fully functioning remote within a few minutes.

3. Locksmith

Auto locksmiths have the training, experience, and equipment to unlock your vehicle and offer solutions to all your car remote problems. The best part is that they can come to your location and program your new remote on-site.


Modern car remotes are notoriously difficult to replace and reprogram if you ever lose them. Fortunately, there are several options available for most car owners, especially if your vehicle is a little bit older. If you’ve been locked out of your car, you can call your local locksmith for remote unlocking and reprogramming services.

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