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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all,

The Bolt I bought only came with one key/fob/transmitter, and I had 2 extra fobs from a Volt that were identical, so I figured I'd try the programming instructions in the manual when only 1 fob is present. After some hassle, here are the things that I have learned that I'd like to post here for posterity:

-You can only do this with a NEW (never programmed before), genuine OEM Chevy key fob. If it's been programmed to another car, it won't work without being reflashed, and that's not something you can do without dealer tools. I also tried a new aftermarket fob and it didn't work, so save your time. I'm sure some aftermarket ones may work, but not being successful is a pain once you start, so just get a new OEM fob online.

-Make sure that the FCC ID on the key is the same (HYQ4AA), even if the button layout is different. I used a key from an Equinox because it was the cheapest I could find a new Chevy key ($50 shipped on eBay). It has a useless trunk release button but that doesn't bother me.

-I tried doing the 30 minute procedure with the door open (while I was doing other things), and as soon as it got to the 30-minute mark, it shut off. Not sure if it was a glitch, but I was able to successfully complete it sitting in the car the whole time with the door closed. I saw another member said opening the door resets the timer, so just plan on being in the car the whole time.

-The first 2 times I tried the procedure (used Chevy key and then new aftermarket key), the 2nd remote wouldn't program, and exiting programming mode wasn't effective. Holding down the start button for 12 seconds would allow me to temporarily exit programming mode and start the car, but it wouldn't permanently exit. Another member said that failing to exit the programming mode also caused his 12V battery to drain, so make sure to keep your car plugged in regularly if you get stuck in this phase while waiting for a key.

-If you get stuck waiting for the 2nd remote to program because you didn't have the correct key, and you're panicking because your car won't start, just hold down the start button for 12 seconds until the dash shuts down (maybe do some deep breathing while you hold it down). After this, you can press the button again to start the car, and you'll have a "Theft Deterrent System" service message on the dash. This won't go away until you successfully program another remote and exit programming mode.

-If you spend a week waiting for a new key driving around with the Theft Deterrent icon on and you finally get your new key...you can just program it without having to go through the procedure again...it stays ready to program :)

I hope this saves someone some time/frustration!

-Neal
 

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I recently acquired a 2017 Bolt Premier that was missing a key fob. Like RichCapeCod I ordered a fob from Car and Truck Remotes. Unlike RichCapeCod I ordered the aftermarket version instead of OEM, now I'm in exactly the situation described by nsherman2006.

To be fair, the invoice for my remote states that it must be programmed by a car locksmith or dealership. But without any clarifying information ("What's the physical difference between the two?", and "Why would I buy a remote online if I then have to take it to a dealer?") it was easy to write it off as an overstatement (maybe they were referring to cutting the key?) or just misinformation. It was apparently neither.

Based on this discussion I'll return the aftermarket fob and order an OEM fob. I was already thinking of returning it because three of the four buttons lack any tactile feedback, I wonder if they even work. Mechanically, it's inferior to my existing OEM fob.

This was a really helpful discussion, thanks for posting.

Update: I spoke with customer service at Car and Truck Remotes. According to this one person:
  • There is no difference between the OEM and after-market fobs from a programming perspective
  • They recommend having a dealer or locksmith do the programming in either case, even though there are plenty of sites with DIY programming instructions.
  • Some fobs may work with the in-car programming instructions, some may not, it's "random".
  • The consequences of getting the programming wrong might be a tow to the dealer. Per nsherman2006 and my experience I don't think its as bad as all that, but that's what I was told.
I suspect the above isn't the whole story and that I'd get a slightly different answer from a different person at Car and Truck Remotes. But at this point I see the following options:
  1. For $118 my Chevy dealer says they might be able to program the $42 after-market fob I currently have. This includes cutting the key.
  2. Exchange my after-market fob for a another after-market fob and hope this one programs properly
  3. Return my after-market fob and purchase an OEM fob from Car and Truck Remotes for $89.95. And hope I get lucky with programming this one.
  4. Purchase a fob from Chevy and have them program it. $159.24 for the fob plus $118 for up to 2 hours of labor in their shop. Peterson Chevrolet in Boise, ID.​
  5. Purchase an OEM fob from either source and have a locksmith program it. I called a couple, was quoted $50 for the job, but didn't get a warm feeling about the programming part.​
I guess I'll drive around in "Theft Deterrent" mode until I can roll the dice again with option 3.

Update: Maybe it is "as bad as all that":

After successfully driving around for several days in Theft Deterrent mode, occasionally having to do a 12-second long press and then a short press of the power button to get the car to start, occasionally triggering the theft alarm and frantically trying to get it to turn off by randomly pressing buttons on the fob, occasionally getting texts and emails from OnStar warning that my car may have been stolen, I returned to the Bolt after work to find it completely dead. The 12V battery that is, the drive battery was close to the Hilltop Reserve setpoint where I'd left it. But of course the car wouldn't "start", now I know what it means to jump start an electric vehicle. The 7 hour (or so) period that the car was parked at work was the only time since this key fiasco began that the car wasn't either plugged in to the OEM charger or being driven. Either Theft Deterrent mode messes with the car's ability to maintain the 12V battery or the original battery is dying. The former would be a serious design flaw and the latter would be a serious coincidence.

I shouldn't be too surprised. Our 2006 Prius has a similar problem managing the 12V battery, having stranded us several times with a 12V battery that was nowhere near its expected lifetime. A jump always got us going again. Guess I'd better add jumper cables to the list of Tools to Carry.

Update: 12V Battery checked out OK at Les Schwab (regional tire dealership). Same story whenever this happened with our Prius.

(hopefully final) Update: Option 3 (OEM fob) worked, as we all knew it would.

My car had been waiting for the second fob since this mess began, it took maybe 5 seconds to program it. At that point the "Theft Deterrent" warning and dashboard light in the instrument cluster went away. Locking/unlocking the car went back to normal. I made it through half a day parked at work without needing a jump. I did get a nostalgic final round of theft warnings from OnStar, by phone, email, and text.

This OEM fob from Car and Truck Remotes differs from their after-market fob in four important ways:
  1. The back isn't blank-- it has the Chevy logo and a sticker with a QR code.
  2. All buttons have a nice mechanical "click" when pressed. The after-market fob had a weird alignment problem that messed this up for most of the buttons.
  3. It cost $89.95 vs $39.95
  4. It can be programmed by end-customers (at least this one could), contrary to what is stated on the packaging for both fobs and what I was told by their customer support.
33211

I hope never to go through this again. But if I do:
  • I won't waste my time with the after-market remote. And if I did somehow wind up with one I certainly wouldn't try to program it myself. I never want to see "Theft Deterrent" mode again unless someone is actually stealing my car.​
  • I'll ask for about $300 off any used car that doesn't have both remotes and just get a replacement from the dealer.​
  • I probably won't use Car and Truck Remotes. They were responsive and courteous enough but I'm not fond of businesses that don't bother to articulate important details about the products they sell. Or in this case provide completely contradictory information. Instead I'd look into a service like robhouston suggested that provides the remote and cuts the key all via mail. I still have to find someone to cut the key on my remote...​
Final Final Update: I finally got the blank key cut. $10 at the local Chevy dealership.
 

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Adding another data point, I've programmed three (3) additional FOBs for our 2019 Bolt (I keep the OEM FOBs safe in the house. One FOB is hidden in the Bolt, just in case...).
Yep, belt and suspenders! I have four fobs altogether - one for each driver, one secreted away on the car as an emergency backup if I loose the fob while I'm on the road (which I actually had to use once), and one kept at home.
 

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Yep, belt and suspenders! I have four fobs altogether - one for each driver, one secreted away on the car as an emergency backup if I loose the fob while I'm on the road (which I actually had to use once), and one kept at home.
Care to IM me where you hid your spare fob?
 

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Care to IM me where you hid your spare fob?
I'll just spill the beans for ya! I pull open the rear floor of the Bolt, then the two separators under that. There's a Styrofoam tool holder at the very bottom level. I have my spare FOB wrapped in plastic (battery out) wedged in one of the slots designed for tools.

Rich
 

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You can read my saga here about trying to program the "aftermarket" remote from CarandTruckRemotes.com: Problem Programming 3rd Key Fob | Chevy Bolt EV Forum

I got the same story as you----"it's the same as the OEM remotes", but it's clearly not. The bottom line is that these aftermarket remotes are either defective or not fully flashed to be ready for programming.

Good luck,

Rob
 

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You can read my saga here about trying to program the "aftermarket" remote from CarandTruckRemotes.com: Problem Programming 3rd Key Fob | Chevy Bolt EV Forum

I got the same story as you----"it's the same as the OEM remotes", but it's clearly not. The bottom line is that these aftermarket remotes are either defective or not fully flashed to be ready for programming.
I bought my fob from Car and Truck remotes and it worked just fine. This is the one I bought. It appears identical to the two fobs which were delivered with the car, right down to the little QR code sticker.

Which one did you buy?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yeah I think their definition of "ready to program" doesn't mean that the key is ready for self-programming.

So people who can learn from our mistakes...buy brand new OEM key fobs!
 

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Which one did you buy?
Sean's link took me to the $89.95 OEM remote, which is the one everyone says works. It's the $39.95 after-market remote that didn't work for me. I'm waiting on delivery of an OEM remote from Car and Truck Remotes to see if I have the same success everyone else seems to have with it, or if this really is just a crap shoot as their customer service person told me.
 

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Yeah I think their definition of "ready to program" doesn't mean that the key is ready for self-programming.
I believe the issue is that different manufacturers and even different models from the same manufacture use different radio frequency protocols, and that these "aftermarket" remotes need to first be configured to use the right protocol. If they're not configured, then the car just doesn't see them. Configuring would involve using a special programming device that we mere mortals don't have.

In the electronics world (the one that's not involved with computers) the word "programming" refers to this kind of initial configuration to take a universal device and make it work in a specific way. Unfortunately a lot of Bolt owners assume that "programming" means pairing the key with the car, which is actually a later step.

For all I know, the only difference between the "aftermarket" and "OEM" key fobs is that the latter have already been programmed to work with the Bolt's protocols. That would make sense because it's cheaper to manufacture millions of universal fobs and program them for specific cars than it is to custom manufacture many different variants of them. It could be that the little QR code sticker that comes on the remote from the factory is saying "programmed for the Chevy Bolt".

All of this is true of TPMS sensors too, which is why I included them on my list of parts to be careful about.
 

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Hi all,

The Bolt I bought only came with one key/fob/transmitter, and I had 2 extra fobs from a Volt that were identical, so I figured I'd try the programming instructions in the manual when only 1 fob is present. After some hassle, here are the things that I have learned that I'd like to post here for posterity:

-You can only do this with a NEW (never programmed before), genuine OEM Chevy key fob. If it's been programmed to another car, it won't work without being reflashed, and that's not something you can do without dealer tools. I also tried a new aftermarket fob and it didn't work, so save your time. I'm sure some aftermarket ones may work, but not being successful is a pain once you start, so just get a new OEM fob online.
Pretty sure you can program a key fob to work with a different vehicle, lots of folks use the same key fob for multiple vehicles. I had planned to do that with my Volt and my Bolt until I found out that they don't use the same frequency.

The Volt Key Fobs use 433MHZ and the Bolt uses 315MHZ, there is no way to use a key fob with the wrong frequency.
Same goes for aftermarket fobs, you need to buy one that uses the right frequency for your vehicle.
 

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I hope this saves someone some time/frustration!

-Neal
[/QUOTE]

It, and the other post will. After all considered, I'm going to pay the local locksmith $289 for a fob plus programming.
 

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We somehow "lost" one of our fobs in the past few months for our new 2020 Premier. So I ordered a new remote (OEM - I didn't want to risk any issues) from this company: northcoastkeyless.com

Worked quite well. I used the 1-remote method. Thus, it forgot all remotes and I had to reprogram the original" remote, along with the 2nd remote. The only major issue in the process was seeing the OnStar notice that my car was broken into after I was done. I called OnStar to cancel the alarm notice and let them know it was just me programming my new remote.

North Coast Keyless had fast shipping and the step-by-step instructions on programming on their website for each of the remotes they sell. 2020 Chevrolet Bolt Keyless Entry Remote Fob Programming Instructions - NorthCoast Keyless

(I also had my user-manual out from the glovebox turned to page 13 on how to program the remotes as well.)

We now have 2 working remotes. I just need to get the 2nd one cut. (My local ACE Hardware refused to do it unless they ordered it, which was over $30. I will try the dealer first, and then a locksmith.

If we ever find the "lost" one, I'll reprogram all 3 and keep a spare at a trusted friend's house so they can drive it out to us if ever needed.
 
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