Keys: What is Up with My 2001-2003 Eurovan Keys?

Starting with 2001 year models, VW introduced a keyless entry and anti-theft system in all their models, including the Eurovan. You can tell if your vehicle is so equipped if you have the “switch blade” type, flip-out key.

Here is an email we got from David, a customer of GoWesty. It is good information:

The flip key is made up of two parts, both of which contain electronic parts with different functions.

The first part of the key fob is the "key part" which includes the flip out key and has a electronic chip inside of it which communicates with the immobilizer circuitry located in the dash, near the ignition switch. The second part of the key fob contains the remote for the keyless entry system. It is important to note these two parts have completely different functions in operating the vehicle. Programming one does not mean the other will work. Both have to be programmed independently to operate the vehicle correctly.

The "key part" needs to be programmed very carefully using a VW 1550/1 scan tool, or a Ross Tech VAG-COM. If it is not programmed correctly, you will be able to start the vehicle with the new mechanical key, but the vehicle will shut down shortly thereafter when the immobilizer does not recognize the new chip embedded in the key part of the key fob. To program the immobilizer to recognize a new key, you have to have a SKC from a VW dealer. If I remember right, it is either 13 or 16 digits. SKC stands for "Secret Key Code," clever, eh? At any rate, once you get a SKC from VW, then follow the directions from the Ross-Tech site or out of the Bentley CD-ROM, and you are half way there.

The second part of the key fob contains the keyless entry transmitter, and this can be programmed simply by following the steps at the Ross-Tech site, in the Bently CD-ROM, or in the vehicle's owner manual. The interesting thing is that when you program the keyless entry, the immobilizer circuitry will allow you to start the vehicle for one start, and one start only, with the correct mechanical key even if the key part has not been programmed using a SKC. However, the next time you start the vehicle (assuming you haven't programmed the key with the SKC yet), surprise(!), it will immediately shut down.

All Eurovans came with a third, default key for emergency use that has a tiny little head on it.  It contains a universal immobilizer chip that is always recognized by the immobilizer. That way the owner has at least one key that will always work no matter what. But, because of its small size and lack of grip, you always feel like you are going to break it. I suppose that's an incentive to go and get your key fob properly programmed. It was for me!

I ended up getting my key fob programmed while on vacation in South Dakota, of all places. VW here in Madison did not want to give me a SKC directly since I wasn't a shop, and at that time I didn't have a title to present to them because I had just purchased the vehicle from GoWesty. I suppose that's a good thing to know that if your Eurovan gets ripped off, VW's not going to give a SKC to just anyone. Not even me, who has been one of their customers for years! The parts guys know me on a first name basis.

I ended up taking it to the VW Dealer in Rapid City, South Dakota, who lo and behold, only charged me a half hour for labor to do it. They were really excited about seeing the 2002 MV I had just purchased, and the good shape it was in!

So, in a nutshell, programming a new key fob for a newer Eurovan is a two step process. Both steps must be completed for the whole system to work. Then snap the parts together, and off you go.

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