Lexus Flip Key Mod

by Mike Satterfield

Our Lexus RX has been a great car, but recently both of the OEM keys started to crack near the base of the key. A quick spin on Google showed that this was a pretty common issue and sadly what is more common are myths about how hard it is to get a new key made for a Lexus. From  the myth that you need a special Lexus Laser cutter to make these keys to the idea that keys can only be ordered based on the cars VIN.

One Lexus dealer quoted an astounding $374 for a new key and programming, but that was only the price if I had the original key... hummmmm Here is why, the "programming" consists of pulling out your old transponder pack and installing it in the new key... thats it. The only time they would have to reprogram a key is if the entire unit was new, even with that the forum guys claim to have that  handled as well click here. I have not tried any of those methods but everyone on the thread seems to confirm thats the way to do it.

So all of the rumors about laser cutting and special order keys is bunk... here is how I replaced both keys for around $50. I ordered some key blanks on eBay for around $12.00 with free shipping. I opted for the flip style key because I like how they fit in the pocket and I did not want to have to worry about breaking the OEM style key case again.

Step 1: Take your new key blanks to a local locksmith expect to pay between $20-$50 to get both keys cut. The local locksmith I used charged $40 for both.

Step 2: Get a tiny phillips screwdriver and and clean work table, you want to have a clear spot because you will likely be dropping little screws all over the place and it's not fun hunting for them.

Step 3: Remove the screw on the OEM key, likely bits will be falling off from the cracked case. separate the case and remove the transponder (shown below)

Step 4: Remove the screws in the new keys housing, be careful because there is a spring mounted on the arm of the key blade that creates the switchblade action. If you let it separate slowly you will feel the case pull to one side as the spring is loosed. Picture below you see all the parts laid out to reassemble into the new key case.

Step 5: Drop your Lexus OEM transponder and buttons into the case, reinstall the arm and spring into the same side as the transponder (transponder is in the case and face down). With the spring sticking up guide pin on the top part (back) of the case into the top of the spring. The spring has a tab that indexes into the recess on the inside of the case that allows the twisting action to load tension on the spring.

Step 6: Holding the case almost clamped together twist the back of the case counter clockwise to put tension on the spring. It might be different with each case but I tried it with a few different levels of tension. With my key it turned out I needed three twists counter clockwise to make the key spring out as expected.

Step 7: Install the two small screws and enjoy the coolness of the Switchblade Key