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Ford Reflash & No Key Code Stored; What To Do
Posted to Technical Tips Forum on 2/27/2019 28 Replies

Long Post, True Story from the Bays this week....

2011 Ford Edge from another shop with Smart Fob (Push Button Start) was in for an engine (PCM) computer replacement and reflash (software install, new computer operating system).

Proceeded as normal. Install and done. Typically Ford also requires a key relearn; you replace the PCM; now you need to tell it 'Hey, here are the keys that go with the vehicle". To do this you have to go through security access; a page on the scan tool that places the vehicle in Security Access Mode, which allows for Key erase and relearn. I go through the process, erase all recorded keys (always a good idea on a reman computer replacement as it clears the slate) and then learn them over into the PCM. Well.....after erasure and before I could learn them the tool lost communication with the vehicle; something that until this point never happens; IDS has always been pretty good. RUT-RO.....

Here's the problem. You need a working learned key to turn the car to on (dash lights on, engine off) to gain access to the PCM to learn the codes. Can't do it; key codes are gone by virtue of the PCM replacement and computer reflash. Now what? No way in....or is there?

Thinking Ford had to be prepared for this I sat down and started reading. In the pile of information on this system there was a little line of talk about learning key codes to the BCM (body computer ) but no procedure offered. There has to be a way, right?

Fired up the scan tool, logged into the vehicle from history (not connected to the vehicle but still using the VIN on the tools file). Allowed me to go through and to the security access screen; wait another 10 minutes for clearance and sure enough brought me to a screen to access the BCM (without turning the key on!) to learn key codes. Here's the funny part.

Inside the center console of this and many other similar Ford vehicles is a "holder"; a place to put the key in proper position so the module on the other side of the plastic console can "read" the key wirelessly. On this car I couldn't find it. "Hmmm, how can that be, lets see, bottom of the console here, nothing under the rubber mat, gum in the gum holder, change in the pocket, nothing in the .,...wait a minute?! Gum holder? "

Turns out the customer was storing gum in the key holder and I didn't see it at first; its hard to see on some of them and kind of buried. Once I removed the pack of gum I was able to insert the key and finish learning the BCM (remember the BCM?) of the key codes. Now I could turn on the key; dash lights, etc. Once here I learned the keys to the PCM (after another 10 minute round of security access waiting) and the car started.

I didn't think it was a big deal till the techline service called me back; I had submitted a help request in my research quest. They told me they didn't have any info on this ; I told them its ok and laid out the procedure i had just gone through. They told me I was the first tech to go through this on their system. So if anyone has an issue with learning Ford keys and finds themselves in the same spot I truly hope this helps them. There is always a way in.

Just watch out for the gum...!

Ron Ananian
R/A Automotive
Waldwick, New Jersey, USA

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