Non-RFID Key Copy for RFID Key

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Introduction: Non-RFID Key Copy for RFID Key

If anyone has and RFID key that is required to start a car and has tried to get a copy we know it runs over a $100 to get one, and most stores will not just make a non-RFID copy due to legal issues.  But if you need one that will just unlock the doors to get the accidentally locked set of keys out, this instructable will show you how to make a real copy of the key from a blank key you can purchase at the store.

Step 1: What You Will Need:

First you will need some common and uncommon materials.
  • A blank key that has the same V grooves as the real one.  For the most part if they will not duplicate it they should sell you the blank, Lowes sold me one for $1.97 (the total cost of this project)
  • A filing set with different types if files (mainly a round, and a D shaped file)
  • Non-hardening clay that is not reactive to heat
  • A grinding wheel or dremel tool to help speed up the process
  • A vice (optional)
  • A lead melting pot with Lead or a soldering iron 
  • tape 
  • Some side cutter snips

Step 2: Negative Copy of the Key

First we have to make a negative of the key.  
  1. We will do this by molding the clay into a round circle with a rolling pin.
  2. Then we will cut it in half, try to make it as strait of a cut as possible.
  3. Press one side of the key into the clay and make it flush to the clay.
  4. Repeat on the other half of the clay with the opposite side of the key.
  5. Now line up the two half's of the clay, perfection is a must, and lightly apply pressure around the edges of the key imprint in the clay to where it is the same thickness of the original.  Now you can press the rest of the clay farther away from the key together to form a better seal so if any molten led does seep out it will not go very far.

Step 3: Lead Casting for a Positive Copy

Now that you have a negative mold of they key we need to come up with a positive temporary copy of it, this is where the lead will come into play.  First heat up your lead pot to get some molten lead.  I have a lead pot because I do my own bullet casting for my hand guns and shotguns.  If anyone wants and instructable on bullet casting just leave a request in the comments section. Now that the lead is molten and around 650ºF put on you safety equipment, I am using welding gloves, safety glasses and a welders apron.  when molten lead comes into contact with skin it really, really, really, really, really2 hurts. The lead will bubble and spatter when it is poured into the clay mold so be prepared for it.  After it has cooled enough to be handled pull it out of our mold and clean off the excess clay.  Now we will trim it down to match the origional.

If you are using solder from a  soldering iron just get it to drip in the clay mold fast as you can from the tip of the soldering iron.  I have never done it this way but it should work in theory

Step 4: Trimming and Grinding

Now that the key is trimmed with side cutters and taped to the blank we need to start grinding the rough shape of the mountains and valleys of the key.  For this step you can either use a vice and a Dremel tool or a grinding wheel with a 90º angel on its grinding edge.  You will see in the video I used a grinding wheel to get the rough shape.  If you do not have a Dremel or grinding wheel you can use the files by themselves it just takes a lot longer.

Step 5: Fine Tuning the Teeth

Now that we have the rough shape of the key ground out we can either keep the lead copy on or remove it and file it by constantly looking back and forth at the original your choice, I did a bit of both.  I kept the lead copy on until I got down to where I needed to do the fine details of filing.  Now this is the part that will take some time just keep grinding it down and slowly it will begin to resemble the original.

Step 6: Testing the Fruits of Your Labor

After you have it finely tuned and it looks as close to the original as you can get it, test it out.  If everything went as it should, you should be able to lock and unlock the car with no problems, now as far as starting it that's another story.  

Trying to start a car that requires and RFID chip with a key that does not could damage the computer in the car and not allow it to start correctly anymore, you have been warned.  

But if you just need to unlock it then you are fine to use this method.

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    89 Comments

    Wonderful

    I have done something similar using JB Weld instead of lead and a manual key copier. Worked great!

    It was a good article, but I didn't see any information that would tell me if my engine computer "would be harmed" by starting it with the non-RFID dumb key.

    Of course that meant that I had to try a dumb key in my wife's Grand Caravan (I forgot to ask her permission first, OOPS!). It ran for about 5 seconds and quit. The little red security dot on the instrument panel flashed angrily. After inserting my smart key, it started right up and drove the same as before.

    I can't say if that's the case for every other car, but it suits my needs for now.

    How likely is it that ANY manufacturer would build something that would have a failure mode of actually damaging the ECU? It would aggravate owners, and also incur warranty costs.

    I can see that an ECU could go into non-responsive mode that requires the aforementioned "buzz box" to revive, and even that seems unlikely to me. It seems more likely that the ECU would just be unresponsive for an extended period of time.

    As you said, though - it is likely that this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

    Generally, the car will crank but not start-with no harm-unless you crank it so long you burn out the starter!

    My experience with the Ford PATS system, (1998 Contour, and 2001 Taurus) is the engine will turn over, and will not start at al.

    I got a copy of an RFID key made at an ACE Hardware for something like $68, including sales tax.

    To put a Ford into program mode, you put a working/recognized key in the ignition, and turn it on and off rapidly (something like seven times). The car computer responds by cycling the electric locks - if so equipped - to show that it is in programming mode. You then put the new key in and turn it on (I think), or maybe start the car, within something like 15 seconds.

    I don't doubt that some cars go into some sort of failure mode if you try to start them with some sort of unauthorized key. I wonder if that would survive disconnecting the battery, or clearing with a code reader? I know that on a Ford, having too many keys and whatnot on the same key ring can block the RF signal, preventing the car from starting. I'm pretty sure this has happened three times in a row, with no ill effects.

    The process to get the car to recognize another remote is similar, except you press any key on the new remote.

    Since the RFID remote key blanks are so blooming expensive, I have considered using trying to reuse a key that I have left over for a different Ford vehicle that I no longer own. I wonder how hard it would be to attach a new key to the old RFID part?

    As for the utility of posting an instructable on how to do all this, I think one can say that quite a number of the instructables posted on this site - perhaps a majority - are for things that are available commercially, frequently for less than what the DIY materials cost, let alone labor. So who cares?

    2 replies

    I have a 2004 Ford Ranger and got an extra key cut at the dealer then programmed it in my ignition. Key was $30 have seen them cheaper on ebay.
    According to my owner's manual you need to valid keys. Place one in ignition turn on and off several times (can't remember how many) remove and do the same with the other valid key. You then have 10 seconds to put the new key in ignition and turn on.
    IF YOU PUT THE NEW, UNPROGRAMMED KEY IN THE IGNITION WITHOUT FOLLOWING THESE INSTRUCTIONS IT WILL BE FRIED AND CAN NOT BE PROGRAMMED !!!
    If you don't have two keys you have to go to ACE for the $69 key or Ford will charge you $100 to program your key. If you lose all your keys the vehicle needs to be towed to the dealer for a new key. Sounds like having an extra was cheap insurance. I will never let myself be reduced to one key. Also the ignition is set to only program 8 keys so don't lose them all the time.

    The Ford PATS system works by sending an RF signal ifrom the steering column to read the RFID chip . Seems to me that if it was powerful enough to fry an RFID chip, it would fry you first.

    I just don't see how the key could possibly be "fried" by putting it in the ignition. More likely that the code is put on a sort of "black list" that it won't allow to be programmed in the ECU.

    There's a difference between "valid" keys and "programmed" keys. Ace doesn't program your key for you, they cut a key that has the RFID chip in it that your car's ECU will recognize. You get the ECU to recognize the key, using the process you outline.

    It's easy to tell in a vehicle with electric door locks how many times to turn the ignition on and off, as the ECU puts the locks up and down to acknowledge that it's ready to be programmed.

    What I can say unconditionally as a locksmith is: However you do it, make sure you have at least TWO spare keys!! Some high end foreign makes will cost between $400 and $3000 dollars to fit a new key to if you lose them all! Even if you DO pay upwards of $100/key, it's worth avoiding the difficulty and inconvenience.

    I studied locksmithing many years ago. One lesson involved duplicating a key with files. You put the original on top of the blank and hold them over a lit match. Hold them high enough over the match to allow them to become coated with carbon soot. When you remove the original key there will be a reverse image left on the key blank. Simply file off the part of the blank that is black, and you will have a workable copy. You will probably need to reapply the carbon a few times, so make sure that you have enough matches.

    2 replies

    With SOME blanks, you can file a key to fit the lock by impression. Since this is a somewhat involved method, I will refer people to Google it. This only works with keys that have the cuts on the edge or edges of a flat blank (and only if the blank is brass, not nickel-steel, like many OEM auto blanks).

    Pretty much, yeah.
    What we teach apprentices is to find the datum point of the key (shoulder or tip-aligned) and use a set of vernier callipers to measure and copy the key.
    That way, later on you can genuinely 'make' a key with just a key-code, an impressioning file, and the spec sheet for the spaces \ depths.
    It's a brilliant exercise to keep them busy for an hour or two =P

    In my experience, Transponder key blanks are cheap to obtain on the internet, and telling a cars computer to trust a new key in addition to its original is a simple and easy process. Clearing the memory on the other hand (distrusting all previous ignition keys) is the process that requires 30-90 minutes wait time.

    5 replies

    SOME cars require a "buzz box" that costs a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Generally only the dealers and SOME locksmiths have these.

    Perhaps I will at some point! In the mean time, here's the site I learned it from http://www.keybitslockandkey.com/losangeleslocksmith/transponderA.htm

    Hey man, working locksmith here. Be very careful to make sure of make \ model if you're trying those.
    Adding a new key to some cars is pretty simple, but some can take silly routines like: "5 pumps of the brake pedal, two turns of the ignition, then open the drivers door"
    We call these a chicken-dance =D

    I've always found it easier to get your keys cut somewhere that Clones the keys, that way the car thinks it's exactly the same key, not a new one.

    Example: your key might have the magic RFID number 4213, your spare key is numbered 5382. When you add a new key, it might be 4915. the car 'sees' 3 unique keys.
    But if you clone your key, it's just another 4213 =)

    so how do ya do that? some fancy tip-toeing thru the pressing of certain switches? or does it require physical access to the computer itself?