Key FAQ for mk4 VW

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This page shows how to program mk4 (mark 4, mkiv, 4th generation) VW keys or remotes, replace the battery, or replacement.  Some steps require the SKC due to the immobilizer.

This includes the 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 Jetta (2005.5 and newer) remote programming, see 1000q: mk5 remote and key programming.

The remote/key is 2 halves but has 3 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.

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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 generation cars.

-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 or carefully cut around it to remove the chip and then swap it with new key's chip. 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 cheapest way to get a new replacement key is to buy a cut NEW key off ebay or an OEM VW internet parts dealer (usually a dealership who sells parts 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.  The average internet wholesale price should be well under $100 shipped internet wholesale plus dealer programming of the immobilizer vs. $300-350 at the dealer for everything.

If you don't know your key's part number (split the key in half using the procedure below to check it) then I suggest going to the dealer to make sure you have the correct key part number and FCC ID.  The part numbers below are only a guide, double check the correct part number with your parts vendor because this website is not responsible if you order the wrong key!  There may have been left over parts that were used on your car so the exact VIN number transition may be off.

When programming any new key to the immobilizer, you MUST have all keys present because it "resets" the immobilizer chip and the old ones won't work.

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.  Again, you could use a used remote half if it's the same FCC ID or as parts.

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 from mark1vws 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 to work on the immobilizer or program new key chips!  VW no longer has access to give you the SKCs.  

To view how to disable the immobilizer system completely or retrieve the SKC number, please join our community and upgrade to a premium account for $2. 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 superceded 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 the cheapest remote you can find on ebay 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 earlier 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.

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.

Do you have any tips on reprogramming your VW smart key or would like to know how to program a key you bought off ebay?  Please ask in the forums