When I purchased my 2001 Audi TT Quattro Roadster, the seller only had one key to provide me. Not having a backup key made me a bit apprehensive because if I, say, accidentally locked the key inside the trunk or—worse—lost it altogether, a locksmith could charge $500 and replacing the entire ignition lock for a new set of keys could cost upwards of $1000. Not to mention the great inconvenience of needing either service.
So I spent over an hour searching various Audi forums about how to duplicate the key and program the remote key fob. I encountered a lot of conflicting information and non-specific suggestions and speculation along with many uncomfortable price quotes. So this post is intended to clear up confusion for any other first-generation Audi TT owners out there by recounting exactly what I did in order to get a duplicate key and fob.
Things You Should Know Before You Begin
- Many (maybe most) early Audi TTs–say, pre-2001.5 models–do not have immobilizer systems, while later models do. If you are in the former group, congratulations! You can follow exactly what I did, described in the following section, as my car does not have an immobilizer. The process is much easier and less expensive than for cars with an immobilizer.
- Complete key fobs for Audi TTs consist of three parts: 1) a metal key, 2) a remote control with three buttons, and 3) an immobilizer chip. If you are lucky, your car does not have an immobilizer and therefore the existence of the immobilizer chip in the key fob doesn’t make a difference to you, even though it doesn’t hurt anything.
- If you are unlucky and your car does have an immobilizer system, you will need a professional to not only cut a new key blank, but program the immobilizer chip and maybe remote control as well. The best advice I have for you in this case is to find a good locksmith in your area (e.g., by visiting findalocksmith.com, which lists members of the Associated Locksmiths of America), and buy everything you need from them. I.e., the key fob with key blank, the cutting of the key blank, the programming of the immobilizer chip, and the programming of the remote control. Don’t buy from Amazon like I did because locksmiths likely wouldn’t take responsibility for not being able to program key fobs they didn’t source themselves.
The Specific Steps I Took to Obtain a Duplicate Key
I’ve had the need for a duplicate key on two distinct occasions. The first instance occurred back in 2012 when I decided it would be a good idea to have a spare key. The second occurrence took place in 2023 when I lost my key downtown, likely slipping out of my pocket. This latter incident underscored the vital need for a spare!
Based on my most recent experience, I recommend following the steps from that occasion, as the companies I mentioned during my first experience have since ceased to exist.
October 18, 2023
- Purchased online a new key fob with key blank from NPAUTO on Amazon for $17.95. This included the key blank, the keyless entry transmitter fob, and fob battery (already installed). This did not include Colorado sales taxes, which Amazon has needed to levy for years now. Amazon shipped it to me within two days even though I specified standard shipping.
- Brought my original key into Don’s Keyway Lock & Safe in my hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado. They were able to cut the new key blank for $35 (no taxes on labor). It took them about 15 minutes to do so. They told me they verified the key code of the original key was registered with Audi first. (I should have asked them why they even bothered to check that.) They said that if my car had an immobilizer, they wouldn’t be able to program the fob’s immobilizer chip. But that wasn’t a problem since I knew my car didn’t have one. You could likely find a qualified locksmith near you by visiting findalocksmith.com.
- Followed the “Instructions for Programming a NEW Key Fob” below.
Total cost of the above: approximately $55.
July 6, 2012
- Purchased online a new remote flip key from Your Keyless Remote for $61.99. (This business no longer exists. So follow the above steps instead.) This included the key blank, the keyless entry transmitter fob, fob battery (already installed) and shipping. (There were no taxes for this Colorado resident.) Note: it appears these are even less expensive on eBay, but I have no experience with them.
- Brought my original key into Lock Safe Systems in my hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado. (This company was later bought out and can no longer cut keys for an Audi TT. So follow the above steps from 2023.) They were able to cut the new key blank for $35 (no taxes on labor). It took them about 20 minutes to do so. This did not include programming the key fob, which they insisted I’d have to do myself.
- Followed the “Instructions for Programming a NEW Key Fob” below.
Total cost of the above: $96.99.
I consider how much I paid for this backup key “not too bad” considering all the different prices folks were quoting on various help forums. E.g., $200 from a locksmith and $400 from a dealer (which would require a wait since the dealer would have to order the key). And again, getting locked out or losing an only key would incur even greater costs for a rescue.
Consider the spare a form of insurance, then. I am keeping the original key in a safe and using the new key whenever I drive the car.
Instructions for Programming a NEW Key Fob for 2001 Audi TT
This is the procedure I–and several readers of this webpage–have successfully followed to program the new remote control. It’s a good idea to roll down your windows first to not inadvertently lock yourself out if something goes wrong. It’s also a good idea to do this in, say, a dark garage so you can easily see the car’s exterior parking lights flash in Step 3.
- Insert a key in ignition. (This could even be a valet key if you have one.) Turn that key to the accessory position without starting the vehicle.
- Insert second key in driver’s door. Manually lock the door (turn right–clockwise–then back to the key’s neutral position). You can withdrawal the key from the door or leave it in.
- Press ‘unlock’ on the new remote. The car’s exterior parking lights, front and rear, will flash once.
- After about 10 seconds, press ‘unlock’ again. The doors should unlock.
The above is all I had to do to get my new key fob working. The trunk release button worked fine. The range on the aftermarket key fob seemed better than the original, but the range for any of my keys were never very far (maybe a few car lengths).
Note that in my case, the newly cut key blank was able to manually lock, unlock, and start the car. This is because my car does not have an immobilizer. I only needed to program the new key fob so I could lock and unlock the doors and trunk by pushing the remote control buttons.
Later Audi TTs with an immobilizer will need the key fob’s immobilizer chip to be professionally programmed to be able to start the car. This is addressed in a later section. Furthermore, the professional might need to program the remote control for you as well, according to locksmith Jeff Rosen in the comments below. He said that the instructions above usually don’t work with cars with immobilizers.
Instructions for Programming an EXISTING Key Fob That Needed Batteries to Be Replaced
These instructions are for re-synchronizing your original, or already paired, remote controls (key fobs) to the car. They are straight from the 2001 Audi TT Owner’s Manual on page 62. The manual says to follow them “if you cannot lock or unlock your vehicle after you have changed the batteries,” because that means “the system must be re-synchronized.”
Resetting the remote control
If your vehicle will not lock or unlock using the remote control, it could be that the code for the control unit and key needs to be reset. This can occur if you frequently use the remote control while standing outside of the effective range.
Resetting the key
- To synchronize, press button A [lock] or button C [unlock] on the remote control one time.
- Then, within one minute, lock or unlock the driver’s door [manually] with the master key.
The system is now functional.Page 62 of the 2001 Audi TT Owner’s Manual
For the record, these official instructions did not work for my original key after I replaced its dead batteries. I only got the original key fob (a.k.a. remote control) working again by following the Instructions for Programming a NEW Key Fob, which require having a second key.
If you are still having problems, see below.
What to Do if the Above Instructions Didn’t Resolve All Your Duplicate Key Issues
According to helpful readers of this site, there are two scenarios where the above instructions may be insufficient: 1) if your car was a “2001.5” model year Audi TT or later and thus had an immobilizer system, and 2) if the above instructions don’t allow you to reprogram more than one key fob for some reason.
It appears that some Audi TTs manufactured from “2001.5” and beyond featured an immobilizer system integrated into the vehicle. This immobilizer relies on communication with a corresponding immobilizer chip embedded within the key fob to enable the car to operate.
In the absence of this chip, for instance, if you purchased a key blank and a fob shell devoid of electronic components (which are available), the key effectively functions as a standard valet key without an immobilizer. Audi TTs lacking an immobilizer can be manually locked/unlocked and even driven with such a key. However, a key without a chip can only perform locking/unlocking functions and is incapable of starting the engine in an Audi TT equipped with an immobilizer.
Moreover, Audi TTs featuring an immobilizer system can only be driven with a key that has a professionally programmed immobilizer chip.
In my case, my 2001 Audi TT Quattro Roadster does not have an immobilizer system. This fortunate circumstance allowed me to synchronize the remote controls with the car on my own by following the instructions above. For cars equipped with immobilizers, the programming of the key fob’s immobilizer chip must be undertaken by a qualified locksmith or a dealer.
If your TT does have an immobilizer, you can do the following:
For anyone that runs into this problem of having to also program the immobilizer chip located in the key half of the remote: you should be able to find a locksmith that can also program that for you. You can find a reputable locksmith near you at findalocksmith.com.
I’d recommend to get a quote from locksmith for how much cutting the key alone is, how much for the chip programming, and how much for both. Have him cut the key first and try it real quick (turning on your car). If it turns on, you’re good to go [that means your car does not have an immobilizer system]. If not, run back in there and have him program the immobilizer chip.
It sounds like (from what I’ve been reading) Audi TTs made in 2001.5 forward have an immobilizer and earlier 2001 cars don’t. That may be why Felix’s car doesn’t have one.
Thanks to Luis who shared this valuable information in the comments.
Programming More than One Key Fob
In 2023, I had to program (i.e., pair or synchronize) both the duplicate and the original with the car. The original key “lost” is programming when its batteries went dead in storage, which is why I needed to program that as well. I was able to program both keys by following the same four-step procedure in the “Instructions section “Instructions for Programming a NEW Key Fob” twice. I.e., after programming one key, I used that key in the ignition to program the other key.
But for at least one reader, the instructions at the top were “insufficient” for programming multiple key fobs. If that’s the case, follow the instructions below.
Steps to reprogram keys to a car they are already linked to:
1. Press and hold the unlock key on a remote
2. Insert key in ignition and turn to on (while still holding unlock)
3. Hold unlock while in the on position for 2 seconds
4. Turn key to off, remove from ignition and release button.
Do this for each remote. Relink to seat positions (press and hold mem position #, then unlock button for 2 seconds and release both) and done.
To program new remotes on a car never linked to previously:
1. Take a key (valet key works best, put it into the ignition and turn the key to the “on” position, so the dashboard lights come on.
2. Roll down the driver’s side window (not required, but a good idea in case there’s a problem).
3. Exit the car and close the door.
4. With a second key, physically lock the doors by turning the key clockwise (don’t use a remote).
5. Take the first remote to be programmed, press the unlock button one time. The lights will flash once.
6. Wait 10 seconds and press the unlock button. The doors should unlock. That first transmitter is now programmed.
***If you have only one key skip to step 16. Otherwise continue to step 7.***
7. Lock the door again (physically) with the key, (not the remote) by turning clockwise.
8. Press the unlock button two times with a one second interval in between, the lights will flash with each button press for a total of two flashes.
9. Wait 10 seconds and press the unlock button. The doors should unlock. The second transmitter is now programmed.
***If you have three keys proceed to step 10. Otherwise skip to step 16.***
10. Lock the door again (physically) with the key, (not the remote) by turning clockwise.
11. Press the unlock button three times with a one second interval in between, the lights will flash with each button press for a total of three flashes.
12. Wait 10 seconds and press the unlock button. The doors should unlock. The third transmitter is now programmed.
***If you have four keys proceed to step 13. Otherwise skip to step 16.***
13. Lock the door again (physically) with the key, (not the remote) by turning clockwise.
14. Press the unlock button four times with a one second interval in between, the lights will flash with each button press for a total of four flashes.
15. Wait 10 seconds and press the unlock button. The doors should unlock. The fourth transmitter is now programmed.
16. Remove the key from the ignition.
Make sure that to test the newly program remotes, the original key is removed from the ignition since this exits the programming process. Someone might be a bit frustrated trying to test it with it still in ‘program’ mode.
At least one Audi TT owner has had some difficulty accessing the programming mode. If it doesnt work then take the key out of the ignition and start over. Rinse, lather, repeat. It will go eventually.
If you are still having problems after trying it more times than you can count, check the key is right one for year of car or that the key and battery are good.
Thanks to Jeff who shared this valuable information in the comments.
Batteries Used in the Key Fobs
Interestingly, my original key fob used two three-volt CR1620 batteries placed in series, whereas the replacement key fob used only one three-volt CR2032 battery that was larger in diameter.
Opening the Key Fobs
I had to unscrew a Phillips screw in the replacement, then use a small flat screwdriver to pry it open. I had to use only a small flat screwdriver to pry open the original (there was no Phillips screw).