Last weekend I was helping my dad with some DIY repairs on his 1998 Toyota Camry, and I noticed that he has only one ignition key left, so I decided to help him with finding and programming a spare key before it’s too late. I also wanted to delete all of his lost keys from his Camry’s ECU, just to be sure that the lost ignition keys don’t end up in the wrong hands.
1997-2001 Toyota Camry has an onboard system that allows to self-program additional ignition transponder chip keys and remote control fobs, as well as deleting lost or stolen keys from the ECU, without the use of any specialized tools or computer software.
The programming procedure consists of a series of specific consecutive actions that activate the leaning mode. In order for this technique to work, you must have your original working master key and new blank key with compatible transponder chip.
Part 1. How To Program New Transponder Chip Key
Before You Begin, Test Programming Mode
You can test these programming instructions and verify that you can activate self-programming mode even before buying a new blank key. As a matter of fact, go do it right now! Grab your master key and go to your 1997-2001 Camry and try it. It only takes one minute to complete.
Pay attention to the security indicator light on the dashboard. Normally it is blinking red when your car is off, indicating that anti-theft system is activated and the car cannot be started without proper security chip. That chip is embedded into your ignition key. As soon as you insert your master key with a correct chip, the security indicator light stops blinking. The engine can be started now.
Follow the programming instructions below – steps 1-5. After you remove the ignition key in step 5, the red security indicator light should stop blinking for 10 seconds (normally it starts blinking immediately after removing the master key). This indicates that you have successfully entered programming mode. Now that you know it works, go ahead and buy a new blank chip key with confidence. To exit the programming mode simply press and release the brake pedal once.
Find New Key With Compatible Security Chip
You can find new transponder chip keys at your local Toyota dealer and Locksmith, but I found that the best prices are usually online. You can find a blank chip key here for just $10-15 (this is Amazon affiliate link). I picked one up for just $13 and I was able to program it without any issues. I’m also pretty happy with the quality and overall look.
Don’t Do This!!!
The following programming method doesn’t require the key to be cut first, so you should not cut your new blank chip key just yet. That way if for whatever reason you cannot program the key, or if you bought an incorrect or defective key, you are still going to be able to return it. Otherwise, if you cut the key before trying to program it and it doesn’t work, most sellers won’t accept returns.
- Start with all doors closed and the key removed from the ignition cylinder.
- Simultaneously press and release both the brake and the accelerator pedals one time
- Insert your working master key into the ignition cylinder
- Within 15 seconds, press and release the accelerator pedal 5 times
- Within 20 seconds, press and release the brake pedal 6 times
- Remove master key from the ignitions cylinder immediately after completing step 4
- Within 10 seconds, insert the new key into the ignition cylinder
- Within 10 seconds, press and release the accelerator pedal one time
- Wait for 80 seconds until security indicator light is turned off
- The new key is now registered – remove it from the ignition cylinder
- Press and release the brake pedal once
Part 2. How To Program New Remote Control Transmitter On 1997-2001 Toyota Camry.
The following procedure allows you to add additional remote controls to a system. You can program up to a maximum of four remote controls. Newly added remote control will work in the default operation mode (you need to press UNLOCK button twice to open all four doors).
Buying New Remote Control
First, you will need to order a new replacement remote control that is compatible with your car. I paid just $14 for this Remote Control for my dad’s 1998 Camry on Amazon (this is affiliated link). To verify that you are buying a correct replacement part, you can find a part number in the back of your existing remote control. You can also find this information in the first section of our owners manual called “Keys and Doors”.
Programming Instructions (Method 1)
- Open the driver’s door and remove the master key from the ignition cylinder.
- Within 40 seconds
– Insert the master key into and out of the ignition cylinder two times
– Close and open the driver’s door two times
– Insert the master key into and out of the ignition cylinder one time
– Close and open the driver’s door two times
– Insert and leave the master key in the ignition cylinder
– Close the driver’s door
– Turn the key to ON position
– Turn the key to LOCK position
– Remove the key from the ignition cylinder
– The blinker lights should flash one time, you should also hear the buzzer sound once and door locks should lock and unlock one time, indicating that you have successfully entered the programming mode
– *if your car didn’t enter the programming mode, star over
- Simultaneously press and release both the LOCK and UNLOCK buttons on the remote control that you are trying to program
- Press the LOCK button once
- The blinker lights should flash one time, you should also hear the buzzer sound once and door locks should lock and unlock one time
- Repeat steps 3-5 for any additional remote controls
- Open the driver’s door.
Programming procedure is complete. Verify that you can open and close the doors using your newly programmed remote controls. *If the blinker lights, buzzer, and door locks get activated 2 times, star over.
Programming Instructions (Method 2)
- Start with the key out of the ignition and drivers door open. All other doors closed and unlocked.
- Insert the master key into the ignition without turning it and then take it out.
- Press LOCK and then UNLOCK button on the driver’s door 5 times.
- Close and open the driver’s door.
- Press LOCK and then UNLOCK button on the driver’s door 5 times again.
- Insert the key into the ignition. Turn it to ON position and then remove the key from the ignition.
- The door locks should lock and unlock once, indicating that you have successfully entered programming mode.
- Simultaneously press LOCK and UNLOCK buttons once on the new remote that you are trying to program.
- Next press and hold the LOCK button for 2 seconds. Door locks should lock and unlock once. Your new remote is programmed now.
- If necessary, repeat step 9 for any additional remotes.
- Close the driver’s door to exit programming mode.
- Test the newly programmed remotes.
Part 3. How To Erase Lost Or Stolen Keys From The 1997-2001 Toyota Camry ECU
In some cases, you may need to delete working keys from your vehicle’s onboard computer memory. This may be helpful if you lost your spare keys or if the keys got stolen. Another example would be if you bought your car used and it didn’t come with the complete set of keys (usually two master keys and one valet key) or if you are not sure you can trust the previous owner of the car. One could have made a duplicate key before selling you the car… Fortunately, you can do that on 1997-2001 Camry without any special expensive tools and computers, and without an expensive trip to the Toyota dealer.
- Simultaneously depress and then release both the brake and the accelerator pedals one time
- Insert your existing master key into the ignition, keep it in the LOCK position – do not turn the key
- Within 15 seconds after inserting the key, press and release the accelerator pedal 6 times
- Within 20 seconds after finishing step 3, press and release the brake pedal 7 times
- The security indicator light on the dashboard should start flashing indicating that all keys except the one currently being used have been deleted from the ECU
- Within 10 seconds, remove the new key from the ignition cylinder – now this is the only key that will start your car.
If you are not able to program a new key, there are a few things you can do. Try to use the following tips to resolve the issue. These are the most common problems that I know of from my reader’s feedback, but if you still have questions, or have other suggestions, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page (it is easy and you don’t have to register for anything to leave comments here). I would also greatly appreciate your feedback and success stories!
- Make sure you are using the master key. Valet or subkey won’t work when trying to add a new key to the system. Master keys are usually black, while valet keys are grey. Master key works in every lock, while subkey will not work in the glovebox and the trunk locks.
- Some cars are not equipped with engine immobilizer system. If that’s the case, you don’t need to use a chipped key. You can just make duplicates at your local Locksmith or hardware store. The key heads on hose keys are usually smaller in size or the entire key is metallic. Vehicles without immobilizer system also won’t have the security indicator light on the dashboard.
- If you bought a blank key with an incorrect or incompatible chip inside, you won’t be able to program it. Always check compatibility with your specific car year and model before buying a new key.
- In most cases, you can add only up to 5 transponder key code to the system. If you are trying to program new keys and it doesn’t work, it is possible that your car reached the maximum number of keys. Check out Part 3 of this article to learn how to delete lost or stolen keys from the ECU.