HOW TO REPLACE AND RE-PROGRAM A VT COMMODORE KEY
Most VT Commodore owners will have two keys and if you are like me you will have used one consistently and at some stage this one will get a flat battery.
Many people presume that the internal battery is re-charged whilst the key in is in the ignition, but this is not the case.
Other problem is that with constant use either the buttons are cracked or missing, or the ‘bridge’ at the top of the key is broken (See below for the typical state of my 10 year old key shell).
One option is to buy a new key from a Holden Dealer, this will set you back up to $180.00 with cutting and programming.
Another is to go to a place like Key King or some locksmiths and you might get away with it for $80.00.
This was my option (You end up with TWO keys for about a quarter of this cost);
Note that you need to have at least one working key (ie, still has the program in it and the battery is not flat).
- Buy new key head shells for your keys. I got mine on eBay - great and cheap, about $10.00! – See an example below;
- Buy a new CR2032 Lithium Battery (3V). Again I got mine from eBay ($1.00 for 3, delivered). See an example below;
- Remove the screws and prise open your old key shell (of the dead key) with a small screwdriver. See the circuit board below. The contact on the top left contacts the key blade. The contact on the bottom left (I call it the ‘Dome’ contact) contacts with the circular contacts on the ignition.
- Use a blade / small pliers to remove the battery. The original is ‘spot welded’ in. See the two points where the contact was attached on the top of the old battery below;
- Get the replacement battery and place it on the circuit board. Either try to solder (watch the heat), or superglue the contacts on the new battery. I just bent the contacts towards the battery first, then superglued. I then taped the edge of the battery down to the other side of the board for extra security;
- I also bent the contact at the top left of the board a little towards the key blade and sanded the key blade at the point it would contact to ensure a good electrical connection.
The next steps can be a little tricky, so read carefully.
There are two options here, the first is to open the good key and the second is to use test leads. The second option saves you having to open the good key and is recommended, but a little fiddly.
- Remove the screws and prise open the good key, so that the key blade is loose.
- Start the car with the good key, then slide off the head, leaving the key blade in the ignition.
- Slide on the head of the key you replaced the battery on. The car will program the key immediately. I left it in the ignition for a few minutes.
- Remove the key and re-assemble.
- Do the same for the working key, suggest you replace the key head with a new shell.
Option 2 (Recommended).
- Buy some test leads (Yes, you guessed it – eBay) - $1.88 delivered. See below;
- Start the car by using the key blade from the old key, connected to the good key with test leads. Connect one lead from the key blade in the ignition to the key blade of the good key (leave it on the dash). Connect the other lead from the circular contact on the ignition to the dome head contact on the good key.
- Start the car by turning the blade (this is the fiddly bit), leave the key blade in the ignition.
- Remove the leads.
- Slide on the head of the key you replaced the battery on. The car will program the key immediately when the key blade contacts the contact on the board and the ‘dome’ contact touches the circular contact on the ignition. I left it in the ignition for a few minutes.
- Remove the key and re-assemble.
This process works!
All up cost - $20.00 for two (2) key shells.
$1.00 for three CR2032 Batteries.
$1.88 for the test leads.
TOTAL $22.88 for two as NEW keys.
This is a LOW RISK, LOW TECH, LOW COST, EASY DYI option.
Please pass on to other VT Commodore owners.