Toyota and Lexus vehicles equipped with immobilizer system


 We are now able to clear the key register in the 16 bit Toyota ECU. This means that you no longer need to replace the ECU if all keys are lost. Call 707-745-5244 for details, or fill out the Immobilizer Service Request Form and send your ECU or ICU to us for Service. This is also refered to as an Immobilizer Reset, or returning the immobilizer to Registration Mode.



In 1998, Toyota began equipping some of their more popular vehicles with a transponder based imnmobilizer system. The applicable vehicles are listed below.

bullet Avalon 1998+ LE Optional, XLS All
bullet Camry 1998+ LE Optional, XLE All
bullet Corolla 2005+
bullet 4 Runner 1999+ Limited Models
bullet Highlander 2001+ Optional
bullet Landcruiser 1998+
bullet Matrix 2005+
bullet MR2 2000+
bullet Prius 2001+
bullet RAV4 2004+ Optional
bullet Solara 1999+SE Optional, SLE All
bullet Sienna Van 1999-2003 Optional 2004+ All
bullet Sequoia  2001+
bullet Tacoma 2005+
bullet Lexus LS400 97+ All
bullet Lexus All Others 98+

This anti theft system is quite secure. The keys have an embedded transponder chip that must be recognized by the vehicle before it will start. The circuitry that controls this function an integral part of the onboard computer system of the vehicle. Until the system recognizes a pre registered key, the starting , fuel, and ignition systems of the vehicle are not functional. 

Unlike some add on security systems, bypassing this immobilizer is not a matter of removing a component or splicing some wires to hot wire the vehicle. This is good news for the vehicle in terms of theft prevention, but can quickly become a nightmare for the owner that misplaces the keys to the vehicle. 

When additional keys are needed for the car, the procedure is simple enough provided that the owner is in possession of a working master key for the vehicle. The mechanical cuts can be transferred to the new transponder key blank using a key duplicator just like it has been done for years. At this point, the new copy of the key will lock and unlock the doors, open the trunk, and even unlock the steering wheel and turn the interior accessories on, but it will not start the vehicle until it's unique electronic code is recognized by the vehicle. This is accomplished by using one of the master keys already registered with the vehicle to initiate the programming mode. This can be done with any of the pre registered master keys, but cannot be done with a valet key.

The problem waiting to happen, is the situation in which the owner of the vehicle does not have any master keys for the vehicle. While transponder technology is not a new thing in general, it is relatively new to the automotive industry. What used to be a quick stop at the hardware store for a couple of spare car keys for under $5.00 is a thing of the past. The transponder keyblanks are more expensive, and need to be programmed to the vehicle. When faced with a cost of $30.00 to $75.00 dollars and setting an appointment for a duplicate key, many owners will tend to delay or forgo the expense. This can come back to haunt them in a big way!

Previously when all keys to the vehicle were lost, the owner would bite the bullet and have a locksmith originate new keys for the car from scratch. This would cost considerably more than a duplicate key, and depending on the time of day (night) and location of the vehicle could cost anywhere from less than one hundred, to several hundred dollars. 

If this happens with a transponder equipped Toyota, onboard computer must be replaced at a cost of more than $1,000.00! If you own a immobilizer equipped Toyota vehicle and have read this far, continue to the next paragraph for the best free advice you will get this week.  

Have a duplicate master key made for your vehicle. Take the master key that was used to program the new key and set it aside. I recommend securing it in a safe deposit box, or someplace you would feel comfortable keeping a couple of thousand dollars in cash. All things considered, that is what it is worth to you if you lose all other keys. It is important to set aside the key that was used to program the new duplicate key, as this assures that you will be able to program additional keys in the future.