Servicing the 2008 – 2009 Chrysler 300C

As the Chrysler Corporation battles for its life in this new era of bailouts for the auto industry, we seem to forget that the Chrysler Corporation brought us some of the most innovative and interesting cars on the road today, including the original Mini-Vans, the PT Cruiser, and the 300C. The...



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As the Chrysler Corporation battles for its life in this new era of bailouts for the auto industry, we seem to forget that the Chrysler Corporation brought us some of the most innovative and interesting cars on the road today, including the original Mini-Vans, the PT Cruiser, and the 300C. The 300C instantly became a hit primarily due to its radical styling and the muscle-car option of the legendary “Hemi.” It wasn’t long ago that every celebrity from hip-hop artists to Paris Hilton wanted to be seen in one.

Up until recently the 300C had a sibling, the Dodge Magnum, but Chrysler discontinued production of the Magnum in 2008. Since sales are slow, the remaining Magnums are being sold as 2009 models, but in fact, production stopped in 2008. The unlocking and door information in this article will apply to the Magnum, but the Magnum was never equipped with the FOBIK transponder system.

FOBIK SYSTEM

The 300C is equipped with the Mercedes-inspired FOBIK system, which some refer to as a “Smart Key.” This system is well on its way to becoming standard equipment on all Chrysler vehicles. Currently the FOBIK system is available on the Chrysler 2008+ 300C, 2008+ Town & Country, Dodge 2008+ Caravan, 2008+ Challenger, 2008+ Charger, 2008+ Journey, 2009 Ram and the Jeep 2008+ Commander and 2008+ Grand Cherokee. In addition, the VW Routan, which is essentially a rebadged Chrysler Town & Country, also uses the FOBIK system.

Each FOBIK contains a mechanical key that is designed strictly as a back-up to unlock the doors in case of a dead battery or electronic failure. This key is released from the fob by sliding a small spring-loaded catch and pulling the key from the fob. The key by itself does not contain a transponder and cannot be used to start the vehicle. If fact, there is no ignition lock to insert the key into. The FOBIK must be inserted into the ignition switch and turned in order to start the vehicle. There is no mechanical security involved with the ignition switch and the switch can be turned manually without the key, which will not start the vehicle.

Each FOBIK also functions as a remote to unlock the doors and on some vehicles also provides a remote start capability. When replacing a FOBIK, it is important to choose a replacement that has the same number, type, and style of buttons as the original, so that the new FOBIK will provide all of the proper functions.

A used FOBIK that has been programmed into a vehicle cannot be reprogrammed for a different vehicle. The programming process, like the transponder in the mechanical keys permanently “burns” vehicle specific information into the FOBIK, and this information cannot be cost-effectively changed.

Programming of the FOBIK system can be accomplished with a variety of aftermarket multi-function devices from Advanced Diagnostics and Silca. In addition, Chrysler factory tools such as the StarSCAN can also program the FOBIK system, assuming that they are equipped with the proper software. Regardless of which machine you use, when you program the FOBIK into the vehicle, the remote functions of the FOBIK are programmed automatically at the same time.

The only mechanical lock on the outside of these vehicles is the door lock on the driver’s side of the vehicle. This lock can be rekeyed and serviced with the standard Chrysler 8-cut service kits.

UNLOCKING THE VEHICLE

Like most new vehicles, the 300C and the Magnum use a multi-layer weather stripping system at the base of the window. To prevent the lower layers of the weather stripping from rolling under the wedge, insert the “Latch Shim” (LKM P/N WE12B) or a similar tool between the weather-stripping and the glass. Once the shim is in place, insert the wedge between the shim and the glass. This prevents damage to the weather stripping, and it keeps the lower layers from rolling under the wedge, which will only restrict the movement of your tool.

In this article I’m using the Tech-Train 1017, which has a small “V” shaped hook on each end of the tool. The two hooks face in opposite directions, which allow you to grasp the linkage rod from either side, by choosing one end of the tool or the other. I’m inserting the tool forward of the lock button, and using the end that will allow me to grip the linkage rod from the closet side of the linkage.

As I insert the tool, I first lower the hook as far as possible and then rotate the tool so that the hook is always as deep inside the door as it will go. In the 36 years that I’ve been working in this field, I’ve only broken one car window, and I did it with a prototype version of the TT-1017. The hooks on the production tool are much smaller than on the prototype, but it is still important to keep the hooked end of the tool from binding against, or getting hung up on, the window glass. That is why I always use great care while inserting and removing the TT-1017 tool. (I was in the process of removing the tool from the door when I broke that window back in 1993.)

Once the tool is inside the door, the hook will be horizontal so that you can grasp the vertical linkage rod. When the tool is inserted forward of the lock button and positioned properly, it will grip the rod. While using the TT-1017, I always watch the inside lock button for movement as I probe for the linkage.

Once the tool is hooked onto the linkage rod, I pull the entire tool forward to bind the linkage and then pull up on the tool to unlock the door. These vehicles can also be unlocked with a long reach tool such as the Jiffy-Jak Vehicle Entry System, but the thin aluminum trim around the door can be easily damaged.

The door lock can also be picked with conventional picks. A key can be made for the lock by using decoders designed for the Chrysler 8-cut system, such as the EZ Reader, Kobra Reader or the Determinator.

SERVICING THE DOOR LOCK

The door panel on the 300C is easy to remove in comparison to most new vehicles. The door panel is secured to the door with five Phillips-head screws and three plastic upholstery fasteners. Four of the screws are easily visible while two are concealed behind pop-off plastic covers. All of the upholstery fasteners are in plain view.

Three of the screws are located along the lower edge of the door, where they are not obvious. A fourth screw is located on the forward edge of the door panel just below the door hinge. Another screw is located behind a pop-off plug in the center of the inside door handle. The last screw is located behind a pop-open plastic flap, just below the grab-handle that is incorporated into the armrest.

Five plastic upholstery fasteners are located along the edge of the door panel. Only the three fasteners on the lower edge of the door panel need to be removed. To remove the fasteners, press in on the center post gently until the post pops in about a quarter of an inch. This will release the fastener so that you can pull it out of the door. To replace the fastener, remove the center post, then insert the fastener back into place, then push the center post back into position, and it will snap down flush with the top of the fastener.

Once the screws and upholstery fasteners have been removed, the door panel will pull away from the door easily. This will give you access to the plastic clip that secures the end of the inside handle linkage rod to the handle. After this rod has been released, you will be able to pull the door panel far enough away from the door to easily release the electrical connections.

The number and location of the electrical connections will vary according to what optional equipment is installed on the vehicle, but this one had three electrical plugs that had to be disconnected. Each plug is slightly different, so there is no danger of replacing a plug into the wrong socket.

There was also one courtesy light located along the bottom of the door panel that had to be released before the door panel could be completely removed.

After the door panel is out of the way, you will have to peel back enough of the heavy rubber moisture barrier to reach the lock. Do not cut this moisture barrier because it is all that protects the inside of the door panel from the water that gets inside the door.

If you carefully peel the moisture barrier back about half way, you can pull the vertical linkage rod free without damage. This will give you plenty of room to work inside the door.

The door lock is held in place by two 8mm bolts that also secure the rear of the outside handle to the door. This type of mounting is fairly typical of late model Chrysler products. Access to the two bolts is through an oval-shaped hole in the inner skin of the door that is covered by a small piece of clear plastic.

Be careful as you remove the bolts not to drop them inside the door. If you do drop one, it can usually be retrieved with a magnet.

The forward edge of the handle does not need to be released. After the two bolts at the rear of the handle have been removed, the handle will pull out far enough for you to work the lock through the hole in the door and into the inside of the door.

After releasing the lock linkage rod, the lock will come free of the door easily. Six out of seven of the tumblers can be seen easily though the drain-hole, so if you are just making a key for the lock, you can now get all but one of the cuts necessary. After progressing the seventh cut, you will have a working key. If you are working on an earlier version of this vehicle that does not have the FOBIK system, you will still need to progress one more cut in the ignition lock for a finished key.

If you need to disassemble the lock, the tailpiece is secured to the plug with a standard “E” clip. The face cap is reusable, if you are gentle as you pry it free of the lock housing. After the tailpiece and the face cap have been removed, the lock plug will slide out of the housing.

With the plug free of the housing, you can now rekey or repair the lock using standard Chrysler 8-cut door wafers. The STRATTEC part number for this kit is 703927.

FOBIK Programming

Programming for the FOBIK system requires a vehicle specific “Immobilizer Code” that is also known in locksmithing circles as the “PIN Code.” In my experience, if you have the VIN, this number can be obtained from roadside assistance providers, such as Cross Country Automotive Services. I have also obtained the PIN Code from Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep Dealers. Their requirement is you must prove that you are a legitimate locksmith in order to obtain the Immobilizer Code.

You can either sign up with a roadside service provider, or go to your local dealer. I recommend that you do both. I usually use my local dealer during normal business hours, and a roadside provider on weekends and after hours. Whenever possible, I go in person to the dealer to get the “Immobilizer Code” rather than using the telephone. The reason for this is so that the dealer will get to know me, and I what I can do for them. I usually leave a business card and remind them that I can do a lot more than just Chrysler vehicles. As a result, I get referrals and a lot of the dealerships’ business for used vehicles.

Whenever I am dealing with the dealership or the roadside providers, I always use the term “Immobilizer Code” rather than “PIN Code.” The reason for this is that is the terminology that they understand. “PIN Code” is simply a generic nickname that locksmiths have adopted for any codes that are necessary to program transponder keys. If you use the wrong terminology with a dealer, they usually won’t know what you’re talking about. Using the proper terminology also lets them know that you know what you are doing, and that you are a professional.

There are devices on the market that will let you pull the Immobilizer Code directly from the computer on the car, rather than getting the code through official channels. The most effective device that I have seen for this is the Chrysler Skim Reader available from Lockmasters, Inc. (Part number CHRYSKIM). This tool interfaces with a laptop computer and the vehicle to pull the Immobilizer Code directly from the vehicle. This tool can be a great time saver, especially at night and on weekends. Immobilizer Code retrieving software upgrades are available for multi-function programming devices.

Regardless of how the Immobilizer Code is obtained, you’re now ready to program the vehicle. For this article, I’ll be using the Silca machine. These photos were actually shot on an SDD, but the screens would be identical on the TKO, except for the background color of the screen.

After the machine has been connected to the OBD port on the vehicle, and it has booted up, select “IMMOBILIZER” from the menu.

From the manufacturer list select “CHRYSLER.”

Scroll all the way to the bottom to select “300C [CAN] 08 – 09.”

A message reminding you to use the “00 – OBD CABLE” only appears on the SDD machine because the TKO is equipped with a universal cable.

Next, a message appears that tells you to “Insert a key and turn on the console.” At this point, you need to insert either your new FOBIK or the customer’s existing FOBIK if you are just adding a new FOBIK.

The next screen gives you the options to check how many keys are in memory, add a new key, add an old key, or erase all of the keys that are programmed into the vehicle.

Once a FOBIK has been programmed to a vehicle, it cannot be programmed into another vehicle. But, that FOBIK can be reprogrammed back into the same vehicle if it has been erased. This gives you the option to erase all of the keys for a customer who has lost their keys, in case they were stolen, but also the ability to program the FOBIK back in if they find it.

The next screen is a warning that you must have the Immobilizer Code in order to program new keys. Pressing “Enter” will take you to the next screen.

After you enter the Immobilizer code, you will need to press “Enter” twice; once to complete the data entry, and once to move to the next screen.

If you have entered the correct Immobilizer Code for the vehicle, you will see a screen (photo 38) telling you to insert the first new key to be programmed and turn on the ignition. Pressing “Enter” will begin the programming process. If you entered the wrong Immobilizer Code, you will receive an error message at this point and you will have to re-enter the information.

A standard screen on the SDD and TKO checks the warning light on the dash to make sure that the programming has been successfully completed. On Chrysler vehicles, you will also hear a “Ding” from inside the dash to let you know that the programming is complete and that it was successful.

The final screen allows you to save the customer information in your machine if you wish. I rarely do this, but saving the information can be a time saver if you ever have to reprogram the same vehicle. The down side is that it takes up memory in the machine.

In addition to being able to program a FOBIK into these vehicles, you can use the above procedure to program what is known as a “FOBIK Hybrid” or “POD Key” into the vehicle. A POD Key is simply a FOBIK that does not have the remote functions and is therefore considerable cheaper. POD Keys are generally used as emergency spares, and have a traditional mechanical key permanently mounted on the end, rather than hidden inside.

The ignition is designed to accept either the FOBIK or a POD Key, and has an opening in the center to allow the key blade on the POD Key to enter the dash.

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