$400 Key Fob???!!!

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Carlisle 2020
john keefe
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$400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by john keefe » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:19 pm

We've got a 2013 Flex, with two semi-operable key fobs. Fatter style, with 4 buttons. Nothing fancy, just lock, unlock, alarm, and rear hatch unlock.

One unlocks the doors remotely but won't lock, the other does the opposite. Ford changed out the batteries during a service, but claims they can't reprogram them. Dealer wants $400 to replace one, and they'd throw in a second for another $200. WTF !!!!!!!!!!!

I call BS. First off, if you can do one for $200, you can do both, but that's still high-priced for a basic fob. When I purchased my last F150, I got a coded third key made for $75.00. There's nothing fancy with these Flex fobs, not like the latter versions.

I get that you'd have the cost of the keys and the labor to cut them ($75-100), but $300 to program one key? For 2013, isn't it just putting the new key in, cycling the ignition on-off 8 times, then pushing the lock/unlock buttons to see if it has coded? Then inserting the second key within 10- seconds?

If there's another way to reprogram the existing keys, or solution, please let me know. I suspect that picking up replacement blanks on eBay and taking them to an independent automotive locksmith might be just as expensive.

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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by andyofcolumbusmerkur » Wed Jul 08, 2020 6:34 pm

I got a whole shoebox full of fobs, and a bunch are 3 and 4 button Ford ones. If you give me the little fcc number on the fob I could see if any of these match. You could have a "utility key" made which is really cheap and has no chip inside. Then put the plane key on the ring with the button from some explorer or something, then "box a key" trick so the car thinks the chip key is in the ignition. I don't recommend this if you live in nyc and park your car in the street. Or possibly get a used key off Ebay, program it to make door work, and carry both keys. You may be able to swap over the metal part of the key onto the new unit and just carry the one key. For 400 bucks I think I would just put the key into the key hole every time lol. Good Luck!
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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by andyofcolumbusmerkur » Wed Jul 08, 2020 7:05 pm

This looks like 87 bucks. There are some cheaper ones on Amazon but this one says oem. Also some refurbished ones about 60 bucks. You would have to have someone cut it but that shouldn't be that much.
https://www.keylessentryremotefob.com/p ... y0EALw_wcB
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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by DPDISXR4Ti » Wed Jul 08, 2020 10:14 pm

I went through this with my Audi a couple years back when I lost my ONLY key. First I had to get the physical key from Audi - I went the cheapest route there and went with a plastic valet key for $75. After that, I did it all without visiting the dealer again. It was a rather interesting journey that included downloading software from some Russian site so that I could retrieve my Immobilizer code. I also could have re-set my mileage to "000000" if I wanted to at that point.

I'll spare all the other details, but I re-used old FOBs which I re-programmed. I now have a total of 4 keys.
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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by john keefe » Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:24 pm

Thanks Guys,

Yeah, the old-fashioned way of unlocking the door with the key works for me. Problem is, as an anti-theft measure, if you open the door with a key, then you have to start the car within 10 seconds or it (supposedly) will deactivate everything. PITA if you're trying to put groceries in the back, or put the grandkids in their car seats. Trying to get her to use the keyless pad on the door, but that seems too much of an annoyance. But I get it, it's much easier to press one button to lock/unlock, especially at night when you want the lights to come on before you're near the car, or you're double checking the lock as you're walking away.

This is the style we have... it actually only has 3 active buttons (but then I never get to drive it, so I guessed 4): https://www.ebay.com/itm/For-2010-2011- ... Sw2LFeFNlo

The service tech really hacked up one of the key fobs trying to change its batteries. Won't close now. The service writer tried telling me that it was like that when we gave it to him, and we must have done it when trying to replace the battery ourselves. Hell, I could have hacked it up like that without even trying. He later admitted that the tech showed him and said there was something that didn't feel right about prying it open, so he left it alone. These guys (this dealership) used to be highly rated, but now they're just pissing us off. Brought it in for a recall to replace the rear toe-link, then turns out Ford isn't making the replacement part yet. "Recommended" a 4 wheel alignment AFTER the toe link upgrade, which is OK... But, they went ahead and did an alignment anyway, and charged my wife. I got the manager to write on file for this VIN that the alignment after the toe link is replaced is no charge. If I hadn't looked at the repair invoice, I'd never have noticed.

Anyway... Andy, the engraved ID on the metal head is SA.

So, how do you program this? Do you know if its still the "Switch-on x 8 and then press door lock" method? In my F150 (basic work truck, no frills), it's a plain-looking key, but supposedly with a magnetic chip or such which is programmed to the ignition. Won't start unless the key has been matched to the ignition. I assume this Flex has something similar, where the key is chipped or magnetized to the ignition, so a non-chip plain key won't work?

Naturally, I called the service writer and questioned the whole deal, and he admitted that you could do aftermarket for a LOT cheaper, and program it yourself, but wouldn't/couldn't verify how. According to him, his cost per key was $125, and the "programming" was $320." Guess its another Ford part of which they are really proud.

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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by andyofcolumbusmerkur » Thu Jul 09, 2020 1:16 pm

If your key is like the one in the link the fcc # is CWTWB1U793
So any button will work if it has that number on it. It's like a garage door opener or something. When my aftermarket car alarm fob started giving me problems I had to order one that was crimestopper. The whole box of key fobs from pull a part were other brands, and the tiny tiny numbers on them were different than mine. I tried anyway but the toyota one wouldn't program (talk) to the alarm and neither would any of the other aftermarket style alarm fobs. It's because they each have their own fcc id. So if you had a car with a remote button separate from the key, you could simply get another one just like it and it will have that correct number. So you don't unlock the dozen or so Fords in the parking lot when you press the button it is programmed to the car. It's really easy to do. I had to follow the car alarm instructions, holding down the hidden button and waiting for it to beep 3 times or whatever. Then you press the fob and the alarm accepts this fob. I think I could add up to 4 fobs. Then you exit the programming mode and test it to see if you screwed up. You may be doing some odd things like sticking the key in and out 10 times and using your turn signals. This is so you don't accidentally enter programming mode under normal use. You may have to try a couple times but it's no worse than clearing a maintenance light on the dash or whatever. So you could take the battery out of yours and just use it like a key, then have a fob attached to the key ring. If you buy the whole piece like in your link you have some more steps. The key needs to be cut obviously but also there is a rfid chip inside it that has to match the cars computer or it will not start. That's why I used the "box a key method" on my Honda. The dealer can make a correct long lasting quality key with their stuff using your vin. I'm sure some people in russia can also. Also a store like ACE can cut a key and also clone it, so your car never knew anything had changed, but I hear the battery will not last and you may have more problems a few years down the road. A locksmith guy in Akron told me his chip keys cost about the same as ACE but last at least as long as the oem key.
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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by andyofcolumbusmerkur » Thu Jul 09, 2020 1:25 pm

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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by Ed Lijewski » Thu Jul 09, 2020 3:32 pm

Holy jeezus key-ricest.

I never understood or swallowed the hyped benefits/cost relationship of programmable key fobs.

And after this epic saga, more than ever.

And the urge to throttle neighborhood key-fobbers beep beep beeping those damned devices and theyr alarms wrongly going off rises often to irresistible levels.

I've lusted for the Flex as well as other new/newer models (any mfgr.). The travails above are coldest water yet on that.

YMMV
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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by john keefe » Thu Jul 09, 2020 5:39 pm

Thanks for the tips, Andy. I'm starting off from scratch here, but much appreciated.

Ed, the Flex is a great car. Kinda' like the old station wagons, but actually not as long as they appear. Easy to drive around town (surprising for its size), great ride on long trips, awesome room, seats 7, easy to access/egress with the grandkids, even with car seats. If I didn't have my trucks, I could fold the middle and 3rd row down and haul full sheets of plywood. Almost no problems with it at all for the 1st 60K miles. We got lucky, for some reason this came with all leather interior.

Only complaint (other than the key, but that's a Ford deal, not Flex) is that this was before the mandatory backup cameras, so I'll have to put one in sometime. Would like a little more power at times, but the turbo'd ecoboost-V6's were still having teething problems back then, so we just have the NA V6. When I bought my F150, they were really pushing for that engine, but same concerns, so I opted for the 5.0L, and it's been great. Only a couple recalls, on the transmission programming, but nothing else. I'm an AMSOIL dealer, so with their filter and oil combo, I can go 15-18K between changes, and it still looks clean and new, not a spec of metal.

From service techs I talked to, the only concern with the Flex could be a water pump in a few years. I think I can handle that. Other than that, while they had some issues when they first came out, they're pretty bullet-proof now. Go figure, Ford was thinking about dropping it from the lineup, even before the suspect switch to the Mustang and SUV/CUV's only (no sedans). But, sales in the West were as strong as any other vehicle in the lineup, except the Mustang and F-series, so they've kept them in production. East coast bias, I guess.

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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by Ed Lijewski » Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:20 pm

Scott Wiiliams (on FB MCA and occasionally here) is on his second Flex; lots of I-95 back-and-forthing).

Read in either MT or C&D that Ford is dropping the Flex. 😥

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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by brokencase » Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:48 pm

Those dealers need to make money, and you're not playing nice John!

Back when I had my Sport Trac, I wanted to make an extra key. These keys have the PATS system in them. Home Depot could make copies but they wanted something like $90.

So I go on ebay and I find some guy selling the blanks for $10 and they had instructions on how to program them if you had your original keys.

So I order one and I take it to the local hardware store to get it cut. The guy tells me "I won't make any promises that this key will work". I say to him "Its OK, I know how to program the key, just cut it." So before he cuts it, he waves it in front of this device on his key machine.

So I take it home and try to program it and it won't work. I don't know what is wrong (but I suspect the hardware store guy's device) so I ask the ebay seller to send me another.

By coincidence a week or so later I going through a junk shop and they had key cutting machine for sale for $40. So I bought it.

I cut the new Sport Trac key myself on the machine and it programs and works perfectly! Never going back to that dirt bag hardware store guy.
Next, I make some special holders for the Scorpio keys and I make two copies for it.

Having all my key needs met I decided to sell the machine on ebay. I think it sold for $200!
In hindsight I think I should have kept that machine.

But then I saw on thingiverse.com a 3d printable model for a key cutter that fits on your dremel tool. So I made one of those.

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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by john keefe » Fri Jul 10, 2020 1:48 am

Thanks guys. That guy in the video does make it look easy. So, the ones in the eBay listing have the correct FCC#, guess I'll be bidding on them shortly.

Brokencase, did the hardware guy demagnetize something? Since I don't have my own key cutting machine, and those generic cutters you see at Ace, etc. don't handle bigger keys with integrated fobs, I'll have to look for a regular automotive locksmith.

Must be nice to have a 3D printer; can think of a lot of things I'd like to duplicate. Was it you who had the write-up on cutting a Tibbe Key? I've got one working, and one blank, but nobody around here can, or wants to cut the blank. Even Ford wouldn't do it, as they claimed their list of codes only goes back 20 years. IIRC, people on here used to send them out to be cut for their specific VIN, but don't know if that's still an option.

Frankly, I like the security of the Tibbe Key, but I'm really leaning towards just replacing all the locks with the standard, double-cut blade keys, a la the XR. A little extra work, but don't have to worry about spare keys, or locking myself out again. Big supporter of having a third, spare key hidden away in a magnetic case on my vehicle frames.

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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by Ed Lijewski » Fri Jul 10, 2020 6:10 am

Big supporter of having a third, spare key hidden away in a magnetic case on my vehicle frames.
Ditto. X4 Merks and X1 MC.

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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by andyofcolumbusmerkur » Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:58 am

The thing at the hardware store, that lights up when you put your key near it, just detects an rfid. So they can tell you if it is a chip key. The chip is really small and the key may just look like an ordinary key. I agree with you guys alarms going off or even just chirping is annoying. On my Mom's Subaru I was able to change the chirp to silent, so only the lights flash when you lock or unlock the car. You may be able to change other annoyances (like mentioned above) on the Flex. May be a sentence buried in the owners manual that talks about it. :sawzall
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Re: $400 Key Fob???!!!

Post by john keefe » Sat Jul 11, 2020 1:01 pm

Hardly ever have the alarm go on (audible) in the Flex, but don't know if we can silence it. Not sure we want to anyway, as there's a problem with the Flex's door ajar sensors going bad (Ford has an extended warranty on them specifically). The sensor will either drain the battery silently, or it will set off the alarm, or beep a couple times and turn on the headlights and interior lights until the battery drains. You can cancel the alarm, but then just the lights will come back on later, like it's illuminating the car in a parking lot at night. Had it happen once, but all 5 sensors have an issue, so we'd probably keep the horn on anyway just for a heads-up.

You'd think Ford would wise up and replace ALL 5 sensors at once, but no... one at a time. I never understood their thinking on this. It must cost them a fortune for warranty labor (not to mention dealer logistics) to bring a vehicle in 5 times, when the cost for the parts is so much less.

One of my previous trucks was an F250, with the 6.0L (2004?), which was their scramble-to-get-a-replacement after International Harvester was caught cheating on their smog compliance tests/certifications. The old 7.3L were bulletproof and I thought better than the Cummins (and a helluva lot quieter), but I guess Ford needed to quickly disassociate themselves from IH before they got tangled up in the Fed and NHTSA penalties. That 6.0L was actually a marine diesel, but to make it practical for a truck, Ford had to design new injectors to increase them from 2500psi, to over 20Kpsi. Needless to say, some injectors weren't up to the task.

So, when Ford replaced the bad injector under warranty, which involved pulling off the cab, did they swap out all 8 injectors just to be safe? No, just the one bad one they could identify. I never had an issue, but I met a couple other contractors who had their trucks in 2-3 times to change just one injector. Usually at least a 2-3 week down time, and Ford wasn't paying for large truck rentals, which is brutal for business.

You'd think it would have been far better economically for Ford to bite the bullet on the cost of 8 injectors instead of the 16hrs labor each time? At the least, they would have avoided all the PR disaster and almost losing the F250/350/450 market (which is why they scrambled to develop their own 6.4L). But, I guess history says the bean-counters have always been a major engine at Ford.

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