Key and remote replacement and troubleshooting: mk4 Jetta, Golf, New Beetle, Passat

Nov 29, 2015
Key and remote replacement and troubleshooting: mk4 Jetta, Golf, New Beetle, Passat
  • Key FAQ for mk4 VW and B5 Passat

    Introduction - This page shows how to program mk4 (mark 4, mkiv, 4th generation) VW keys and remotes, replace the battery, or disassemble them.

    This FAQ covers all New Beetle, Golf (up to 2006), and Jetta and Passat (up to 2005). For mk3 (1995-1999) Jetta TDI or Passat TDI keyless entry programming, see 1000q: mk3 key FAQ. For mk5+ cars (2005.5 and newer) remote programming, see 1000q: mk5+ remote and key programming.

    The remote/key is 2 halves with 3 total separate components: the keyless entry remote, the metal flip key, and the immobilizer chip. Each must be correct to get the key/remote to work as intended. You must program the immobilizer (totally separate from programming the keyless entry) or else the immobilizer will shut off the engine after a second. See 1000q: immobilizer FAQ for more details on the anti theft immobilizer.

    Misc key info: The key operates at 315 mHz (I guarantee you that the signal cannot be transmitted over a cell phone). The replacement battery for the remote is CR2032. If you have the older rubbery style it uses a CR1620. The immobilizer chip does not need a battery because it's an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip energized by the antenna in the ignition key slot. The RFID chip range is about 1" from the ignition key slot when in a key (through plastic) and about 3" when bare.

    I recommend 's key cutting service. They sell new remotes and can even cut you a key from a clear photo of your key. They also rent the key programming tools and sell parts such as new circuit boards, covers, vw emblems, and immobilizer chips. After cutting and programming, this is the cheapest way to get a new key!

    The first step in getting a new or replacement remote/key - MUST READ
    -If the car does not have an immobilizer you can program the keyless entry yourself and have a new key cut almost anywhere. This applies to early mk4 cars with no immobilizer and earlier VW-Audi generation cars. If you don't see the immobilizer symbol on the dashboard light up for a second when you turn the car on, this is most likely your situation.

    -If you have an immobilizer and have an existing broken key (broken remote or flip key), you can salvage the parts out of your existing key and put them into a new key. For example, if the key ring loop is broken, split the key and replace it with a used part. VW doesn't sell just key ring loops. You can also swap your current immobilizer chip into the replacement key instead of bringing it to the dealer. The RFID chip and a closeup are pictured below (white arrow). Use some acetone (nail polish remover) or carefully cut around it to remove the chip and then swap it with new key's chip. It will take some time to get the RFID chip out if they used lots of glue. Then you can program the keyless entry yourself and have a new key cut anyplace that can cut the metal side milled/reverse cut key. You could tape the old chip to the outside of the ignition cylinder but that defeats the immobilizer anti-theft function. And if you dug it out why not just put it into the new key?

    -If you have an immobilizer and you don't have an old key to salvage the immobilizer chip out of, you must read the notes below about the SKC code and key variations.


    How to tell if you have an immobilizer and differences by year
    If you have the yellow car symbol pictured a few paragraphs below on the instrument cluster, you have an immobilizer. The two types of VW immobilizers used in the mk4 generation in North America are immobilizer 2 and 3. Generally speaking, VW up to about 1999 do not have an immobilizer and immo-1 was not equipped on cars sold in the US/Canada.

    If you have Immo2, you need the SKC to use a new key or instrument cluster. It has an emergency drive function that will let you drive to the dealership or mechanic for them to fix it but you must know the SKC code.

    If you have Immo3, you need a SKC to use a new key, swap instrument clusters, or swap ECUs. The big difference with immo3 is that it you cannot reprogram used immobilizer chips (used keys). VW doesn't sell just chips. Remember, the door-unlock-remote part is separate from the ignition key-chip half, A used key fob (after programming) can still unlock the doors as long as the FCC number is the same. For the Jetta/Golf/New Beetle, immobilizer 2 was introduced during 2000-2001 in the US/Canada. If you have a 2000, it might have immo2, check for the yellow car symbol on the instrument cluster. If your VW is model year 2002-2005, it probably has immo-3. To see if you have immobilizer 2 vs. 3, see the 1000q: immobilizer FAQ . Immo-4 is on 2005.5-2006 and newer mk5 cars.

    Pictured below is the immobilizer symbol on a mk5 car. Your yellow car symbol should look the same. It turns on very briefly when you turn the ignition on. If you don't see any immobilizer symbol than you most likely don't have an immobilizer.

    The cheapest way to get a new replacement VW Jetta, Golf, or Beetle key
    The easiest way to get a new replacement key is to go to the dealer but it'll cost you a lot. A cheaper way is to buy a new cut key online and take it to your local dealer for immobilizer programming. It only takes a maximum of 30 minutes (it really only takes 5 minutes to set everything up and about 1 minute per key) but expect 1 hour labor charge (0.5 hour if they're nice). You can program up to 4 keys per car. Dealer prices are usually around $100/hr labor and expect $350 at the dealer if you buy everything from them and have them do it.

    The cheapest way is to buy the key online and program it yourself. rents the key programming tools and sells the parts. Here are some videos covering key programming.

    Double check your key's part number (split the key in half using the procedure below to check it) before buying any keys online! The part numbers below are only a guide, verify your key against your parts vendor because this website is not responsible if you order the wrong key! It's rare but there's sometimes left over parts mixed and matched on cars during parts transitions and VIN number transitions.

    As noted in the video, when programming any new key to the immobilizer, you MUST have all keys present because it "resets" the immobilizer chip and the old keys won't work anymore unless they are present during programming. This is useful for locking out lost keys.

    As mentioned above, if the car has immobilizer 2 you can reprogram used immobilizer chips (and used keys). If your car has immo 3 or above, you can't. A new key blade half is required since the immobilizer chip is inside that half..

    Retrieving the Secret Key Code (SKC) number or bypassing the immobilizer
    If you have a car 2000-2001, you might still have the 4 digit plastic tag with the SKC printed on it under a scratch off panel. Pictured below is the plastic tag. If you have a car model year 2001 or higher, or you lost the plastic tag, you don't have the SKC and you cannot program the immobilizer yourself. If you cannot find this then you must retrieve the SKC yourself before you can work on the immobilizer or program new key chips! VW dealers no longer havw access to give you the SKCs.

    I really want to DIY, how do I DIY program the key?

    You used to have to buy the expensive key programming tools and then resell them. Now, rents the key programming tools so you can DIY cheaply! IMHO, this is now the cheapest and most convenient way to program keys. If you wish to buy the tools, VCDS is expensive but the software license follows the full version cable so the depreciation on them is very little. The tool can also do many other things.

    The more expensive way is to buy a RFID chip cloner/copier that works with the megamos crypto system. Megamos is the brand name of RFID chip and they're encrypted to make it harder to steal your car. The more expensive ones are updated to work with newer systems and can work with many different new car models. In some cases they both read and write to your car's computer to work. These are targeted at professional locksmiths and cost a few thousand dollars. The cheaper ones are supposed to work with some systems but I've never found one cheap enough to make it worthwhile so I don't have any instructions for you here. The really cheap ones that you may find on ebay or online won't work with the chips in these cars.

    To view how to disable the immobilizer system completely or retrieve the SKC number, please join our community and upgrade to a premium account. The exclusive content can be viewed in this post in the premium members only forum. Then upgrade to a premium account here. There is no easy way to immediately bypass the immobilizer so don't bother asking. If there was, it wouldn't be very effective at theft prevention would it? VCDS cannot get an SKC for you and they do not plan on incorporating this hacking feature.


    Mk4 VW key part numbers
    (click to see retail prices, make sure you read the above paragraph, double check with your vendor if it's only the remote or the whole key!) The best way to check your key's part number is to take your key apart and check the printed part number inside. The tips below are just general guidelines.
    #1- If you have a car with VIN >9M 1 083 594 and a build date 11/98-09/00, (about model year 1998-2001) your remote probably looks like #1 pictured above, part number should be VW# 1j0 959 753f, this is for immo 2. The key buttons are more flexible and are oval. It has no hard keychain loop and use 2x CR1620 batteries instead of the ones shown in the picture at the top of the page.
    #2- If you have a car with build date 10/00-05/01 (about model year 2001, maybe some 2000), you may have the remote that looks like #2, it should be VW# 1j0 959 753t and is for immo 2. The key buttons are plastic and are more squared. It has a hard keychain loop. This part number should work with any mk4 VW pre immo and up to immo 2.
    #3- If you have a car built after 05/01 (about model year 2001-2002 and above), you should have immo 3 and use remote #2, it is either VW# 1j0 959 753 am, this has been superseded by 1j0 959 753 dc, it should have immo 3. It has a hard keychain loop. The key buttons are more plastic and are more squared. You don't have immo 4 unless you have an mk5 car. Passat used immo2 later than the Jetta/Golf.

    WITHOUT immobilizer (1998-1999, maybe 2000 cars)VW# 1h0 837 219 a (with light)
    VW# 357 837 219 a (without light)
    valet key (no remote section) VW# 357 837 185 or 3b0 837 219 h

    WITH immobilizer valet key (no remote section) Key #1 1j0 959 753f Key #2 1j0 959 753t Key #2
    1j0 959 753dc or 1j0 959 753 am Key #2 no panic button
    FCC number, misc identification marks FCC ID: NBG 8137 T
    CAN: 269 4102 1185A
    HELLA: 5FA 008 137-30 FCC ID: NBG 735868 T FCC ID: NBG 735868T (for am)
    or NBG 92596263 (for dc)
    remote section 1j0 959 753f
    or 1j0 959 753 e 1j0 959 753dc or 1j0 959 753 am 1j0 959 753 dj
    metal key only without remote section 3b0 837 219 ak 1j0 837 246d 1j0 837 246f 1j0 837 246f
    Keyless entry programming
    Remember, this only programs the keyless entry, it has nothing to do with the immobilizer, you still have to find someone who can program the immobilizer or take it to the dealer for programming.

    To program your keyless entry:

    -Put your good key in the ignition and turn to "ON", do not start the engine. Make sure all the remotes you want to use are present because they have to be programmed at the same time.
    -Close the door and insert key #2 into the driver's side lock. Lock the door.
    -Within 5 seconds of locking the door, press unlock 2 times on the new remote, key #2.
    -(if this is remote #3, press unlock 3 times. if this is remote #4, press unlock 4 times).
    -If there's a chirp or beep do not press it again. This means that the car has recognized the new keyless entry remote.
    -Repeat with other remote or unlock the car and turn off - done.
    If you only have 1 key you have to use a ross tech VCDS cable to do this or have the dealer do it.

    Battery replacement or key disassembly

    To replace the battery, keychain, or switchblade, you have to take the key apart. If you want to replace a broken keychain, just buy a cheap remote and swap the battery housings. Here's a video showing battery replacement.

    Here's a video showing key disassembly. Ignore the later part which deals with model year 2009 and newer keys. See the pictures below as well.

    To separate the key and remote section, just grab each half and pull hard. There's also a small notch on the side where you can insert a pry.

    Use a thin pry at the yellow dotted lines to split the keyless entry half in two.

    Here's the other side. Ignore the screw and disc, that's for replacing the switchblade.

    Once the remote half is apart, put in a new CR 2032 battery. The negative side (in this pic the side without writing) should face you when you put the battery in. If your keychain is broken, you can just replace that half with a cheap key from ebay. If you have the older round button-rubbery fob it uses a CR1620 battery.

    To replace the switchblade or remove the immobilizer chip, see the above picture with the screw. Use an exacto knife to pry off the VW badge and remove the screw. The switchblade will come apart. I suggest driving the knife where the screw is because there's a little space for it to go under the badge. Otherwise it'll dig into the plastic.

    If you need to dig the RFID chip out, be VERY careful. It's glass and if you pry it out, it'll shatter. Depending on how much glue they used at the factory, it may fall out or it may need soaking in acetone. Let it work while you cut the plastic to the sides. After a lot of scraping and cutting, the chip will come out as the glue loosens. If you get impatient and try to pry it out, you'll probably break it.

    The switchblade and button sit on top of a torsion, or twisted spring. This is what makes the switchblade open. The spring sits on a tab in the plastic, note the yellow arrow. Note the tabs when reassembling and twist the switchblade so that it opens correctly. If the switchblade is clamped closed you twisted the spring in the wrong direction. If your switchblade action is getting tired, twist the spring another turn in the correct direction to make the key open with more force.

    The rest of assembly is the reverse of removal.