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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm coming from an older vehicle that didn't even have a wireless key to lock/unlock the doors. I really dislike the bulk from the wireless key fob.

Are there any aftermarket keys that can be programmed to replace the stock Mazda key? I would really like something smaller even if it doesn't include a physical key.
 

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I don't think so. A locksmith friend told me that the Mazda software is costly and the market is too small for that to be profitable. I gave up looking.
 

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The short answer is yes as I have done a lot of background on this as I could actually write a dissertation on it. It's not all that difficult but the problem is finding the locksmith who has the equipment and all the updated codes. Many locksmiths show pictures of a lot of key fobs in their advertisements, but not all of them have the latest technology on keyless entry, regardless of what they say.

Keep in mind you can always go to the dealership to get new/additional/replacement key fobs, but you will pay several hundred dollars more....usually. Each dealership handles this differently like other things. I've heard some dealerships willing to program a key fob you did not buy from them for a nominal fee and others who won't touch it and want you to pay the hundreds of dollars to buy and program from them. Also, what each dealership can charge significantly different so shop around if you go that route.

Also, keep one other thing in mind about today's KEYLESS entry technology....not just Mazda. As an example, if you are on a road trip and you lose your key fob, it's not like the old days, where a locksmith could come and open up your car and cut you a new key. The locksmith would have to have your key fob in stock and the codes. I've read several stories where people have to have their cars towed to the dealership to have new fobs programmed. And in this scenario, if you had a key fob at home that works, you would have to then pay more later to get that fob reprogrammed....it's endless.

You can buy OEM fobs (not knockoffs) on line on amazon, ebay, and other suppliers for $30 to $70 depending on new/used and it having the fob key included which can also be bought separately as well for $10 if not included. I bought mine from carandtrucksremotes.com. Without getting too detailed, you obviously have to get the correct fob. The websites help you with this.

The specific issue I had was that I bought my 2017 Mazda in Oct 2016. I brought the new key fob into a very highly regarded locksmith in San Francisco on 3 occasions, and on his 3 attempts he did not have the updated codes. He told me to keep coming back as the codes continue to get updated. He confirmed there were no issues with the key fob and he could test it and it worked fine. Even if I had bought the key fob from him he would not have been able to resolve. Each time I brought the car in during the programming he got a bit further, and even had Mazda on the phone the last time, but they were unable to release the updated codes that would work for my car at the time since my car was literally hot off the boat from Japan when I received it.

I have since moved to NYC and this is on my list of things to get resolved. I have not researched enough but I'm still looking for a qualified locksmith like I had in SF. Again, the reason you want to go this route instead of the dealership is cost. The locksmith in SF was going to charge $80 if he could succeed. He never charged me for his 3 attempts. Mazda was $350 for just one remote and I had to buy the remote from them.

A couple of things to keep in mind, if you find someone to program, you need to provide all of your fobs as they all need to be reprogrammed. Also, if you only have one fob and you want additional fobs to be programmed, there are some risks in the programming...meaning that if there is only one working key fob and it gets programmed incorrectly during the process, you can be SOL in some cases and will need to have your car towed to the dealership. In my case, I had 2 working key fobs and the new one I wanted programmed, so I was fine. This is actually one of the reasons you want at least 3 fobs. If one get's lost, then you reduce the risk significantly later on of programming a new key fob.

So to protect me, I actually have securely hidden a plain (old style key blank) copy key on my car and have the Fob (battery removed) hidden inside my car should I get stuck somewhere. Keeping in mind I still need to get my 3rd fob programmed. Also, getting the plain copy keys cut correctly is not easy either, even for the best locksmiths. The locksmith had to cut 3 times and test for it to work properly in the door.

I understand it's all an expensive proposition no matter the route you go, but for those times you lose a fob in the middle of no where and you don't have a replacement, not any locksmith will do, and if you have to get your car towed to the dealership, then you have exponentially created a bigger issue $$$.

These are things people don't know about and certainly don't/can't plan for them because they are unaware of how technology makes our lives easier and more difficult at the same time when things go wrong. In many if not most or even all cases, the only way you will have help yourself is to have an extra key fob nearby....or you will have to tow your car to the dealership for them to reprogram the CMU for new fobs.

In the meantime, anyone know of a very qualified automotive locksmith in the NYC area having the latest technology let me know.

If you haven't figured out, I'm OCD about safety and security.

Sorry....after reading your question again I realized you wanted something smaller....The answer is No, but others might find my above research and answer useful anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Sorry....after reading your question again I realized you wanted something smaller....The answer is No, but others might find my above research and answer useful anyway.
That's a lot of good information! Thank you.

I have two sets of keys, and you're saying if I want an extra key I need to have all the keys reprogrammed? One of the keys has the little number tag to identify the key code or something.

My original question is about getting the key fob in a physically smaller package. I figured I could have a physical key blank cut and hidden somewhere on the vehicle. I have a hatchback which eliminates one button on the fob and I could do without the panic button. I just need a lock/unlock button and whatever contraption is used to wirelessly communicate with the vehicle.

One question I have is about a battery dying in the key fob. Apparently you can still start the car by using the dead key fob to push the start button on the car. Does that mean there is some kind of RFID chip that can be powered by the start button itself?
 

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One question I have is about a battery dying in the key fob. Apparently you can still start the car by using the dead key fob to push the start button on the car. Does that mean there is some kind of RFID chip that can be powered by the start button itself?
The push start button itself has a sensor that senses the chip inside the key fob so in the case of the fob battery dies the car can still start. That's also probably why I haven't seen anyone with an aftermarket key fob while I was working at Mazda because aftermarket fob don't have a compatible chip? And I would never go without a key just in the case of the fob battery dies and you have no access to the key then you won't be able to get in the car at all. The Mazda key fob is already one of the slimmer design I've seen so far, Dodge and Benz has the long round fob for all the buttons which I find it more annoying.
 

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If you add another fob, the locksmith told me they need all them to make sure they are programmed properly....I think it's part of confirmation process since there can be changing codes during the programming. I remember the 1st time I had to go home at get the 2nd key. And like the locksmith told me the 2nd one is also a necessary failsafe if something goes wrong. As competent as I felt about the locksmith, I got the impression they don't like doing it with just one fob if it is not an emergency..

That little tag is very useful for the dealer...I don't think it means anything to a locksmith.

Not sure I quite understand your last question....suffice it to say you will not find another remote to work and you will need the Mazda remote. I have taken the battery out of the remote just to see how the car starts. In regards to dying batteries, I know some people keep a spare battery or two in the glove compartment. I've had my car for a year and half and have not had to replace my battery yet, but some have said they had issues with theirs dying within a few months on a regular basis. Not to get too long, but I think it may have to do with the proximity of the key to the car as it is always looking to communicate with the car, and if it is within a certain range, not necessarily just the range of where the remote locks/unlocks the car.

The key blank I have is the following: Ilco X249 MZ31. Like I said they had to cut and test several times to get to work. Initially, they could get it to unlock, but took them a couple of tries to figure out how to get it to lock.
 

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That little tag is very useful for the dealer...I don't think it means anything to a locksmith.
The key tag is the code for just the key part so the key cutter knows exactly what key to cut instead of having to do a questionable trace cut which can be iffy if the original key is a little worn. So in the case of programming a key fob, no, the key code does nothing.

It's PITA to get a new key fob without paying a lot so DON'T LOSE IT.
 

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In the meantime, anyone know of a very qualified automotive locksmith in the NYC area having the latest technology let me know.
If all you need is to have the fob programmed, the Mazda dealer in Albany NY told me he would do the job for $100.

But you are right. All these new keyless systems are a PITA.
 

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If all you need is to have the fob programmed, the Mazda dealer in Albany NY told me he would do the job for $100.

But you are right. All these new keyless systems are a PITA.
Thanks. I will check it out as I will be in the Albany area in May. Admittedly, I haven't checked any of the dealers around NYC to see what their policy would be on programming a fob.
 

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I have two sets of keys, and you're saying if I want an extra key I need to have all the keys reprogrammed? One of the keys has the little number tag to identify the key code or something.
I don't know for sure how it works in Mazda, but my past experience with other brands is that the key fobs are not in fact reprogrammed. Rather, it's the computer in the car that needs to be programmed which key fobs to accept. And there is typically no procedure to add an extra key to a list of already recognized keys; instead, the procedure wipes the existing list before new keys can be added -- that's why all the keys need to be present, because at that point they are all "new". It's more foolproof that way as you don't need to have a separate procedure to forget a lost key fob.
 

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I lost one of my keys while on vacation. I always bring the spare though. But i bought a key off a kid who traded his car in and didn't need it anymore, same could be said for someone who wrecked their car.
Anyways, I paid Mazda to cut a new key, and I waited for a coupon to get both keys synced. But back to topic. There is a guy on here that uses an aftermarket alarm system so maybe thats an option for a smaller key fob.
 

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There is a guy on here that uses an aftermarket alarm system so maybe thats an option for a smaller key fob.
You could get an aftermarket remote starter and just use the fob from that as the key. Or you could just leave the key inside the car (without the battery), put a relay on the lock switch and connect it to a bluetooth transceiver connect to your cell phone or an RFID reader or anything else.

Here's a guy who took his fob apart, ditched the button switches but kept the key blade, and 3D printed a new slimmer case:https://hackaday.io/project/109465-3d-print-a-thinner-car-key

Here's a guy who took his fob apart, kept the buttons but moved the battery and taped the whole thing to a credit cars that fit in his wallet. I might try that, but don't solder a lithium battery like he did:

There's probably other better solutions out in the hacker world than there is here.

note: I don't know why one video embedded and the other just shows up as a link, but I'm gonna leave it like that.
 

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After an off the shelf solution, this is the exact kind of thing I was looking for.
I think I would ditch the buttons and the metal key (and stash it somewhere on the car,maybe inside the mirror cover), then put the transponder in a TicTac box or something small like that. The hard decision is whether to keep the battery stacked on the board or to move it to make the thing longer and thinner, which would require soldering. I think I'll need to find someone with better soldering skills if I decide to move the battery.

In other news, vendors won't tell me that their fobs will work or whether used keys can be registered with my car. I don't want to experiment until I have 3 keys.
 

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I went online and found a replacement fob that is exactly like the OEM for our 2016. It's also exactly like the one for our 2013 MX-5.

Somehow, I lost my fob from my fanny pack. This is why I needed another one. Had to have it and the old one reprogrammed. Had it done at a local locksmith shop in town (Charlottesville, Va). Both fobs are pinned to the inside of my fanny pack now with safety pins and rubber band to keep from inadvertently sweeping one out when pulling something else out. They just stay in the pack unless or until one of their batteries fail.

I went through my 2nd fob for the Mz3 going dead after around a year. No problem. Had to use the retracable key to unlock/lock the door. Turned the fob backwards up against the start button to get it to work.

Happened to my wife a bit after. Luckily, hers did not go completely dead, as she was struggling with the whole idea of what to do.

One went dead of the Mx-5's. Much simpler, it seems. Just use the retracable key for both the door AND the ignition switch, which rotates.

Ralph
 
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