Remote Key Heads

May 1, 2009

Just about every vehicle manufacturer has remote head keys on at least some of their vehicles. A remote head key has the remote functions; lock/unlock, etc., plus the mechanical key blade contained in one package. The mechanical key blade of a remote head key can be a rigid blade extending out from the remote head, a spring-loaded switch blade or a blade that must be removed from the remote portion in order to mechanically operate the vehicle.

The remote head key eliminates the need for a key and separate remote. This makes one less thing to carry. However, the package can be much bigger. A Chrysler mini-van model uses a six-button remote head key with rigid blade.

The rigid key blade style remote head keys can be quite long. The Chrysler remote head key is approximately 3-1/2” long, 1/2” thick and 1-3/8” wide. The conventional Chrysler transponder key is about 3/4” shorter, with a much smaller head.

This additional length especially on the rigid blade remotes, creates a built-in problem. The remote head is plastic and is usually not reinforced sufficiently to prevent breakage. As a result, they can and do break.

Remote head keys are expensive when compared to transponder-equipped keys. Replacement remote head keys from a dealership usually cost more than $100, and many are more than $200. In addition, the new remote head key must be programmed to the vehicle, adding additional cost and the time requirement.

As an alternative, remote head key shells are available for a number of vehicle manufacturers. A remote head key shell is just the plastic outside, usually with the proper key blank. Using the customer’s electronics package eliminates the need to program the transponder and the remote functions.

Aftermarket remote head key shells do not have the vehicle manufacturer’s logo on the cover. Sometimes it is possible to install the original cover onto the replacement shell. Always dry fit the parts to be certain they are compatible.

IMPORTANT: No cloning device, programming device or automotive expertise is required to move the electronics package to a shell.

Know the make, model, year, number and positions of the buttons to be certain. Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles probably have the widest variety of remote head keys, ranging from three buttons to six buttons. There are two types of Chrysler three- and four -button remote head keys. The sizes and positions of the buttons are different and are not interchangeable.

Ford, Lincoln and Mercury IKT (Integrated Key Transponder) key electronics packages are secured to the housing. There are no replacement shells available. There are no shells available.


For the purpose of this article, I obtained a variety of remote head key shells from HATA Inc. I will replace the electronics package from a broken Lexus remote head key into a HATA HAT-L-02 Lexus Long Blade 3-Button Shell.

Lexus remote head keys vary by the key blade. There are two styles of Lexus rigid key blade remote head keys, long and short. Do not substitute shells between manufacturers.

If the customer’s vehicle is available, test the customer’s remote head key for both mechanical and electronic operation. Test all of the buttons to be sure the customer’s remote head key properly operates.

Once the proper shell is obtained, there are two steps to installation. First, remove the back cover. Most remote head keys have a slot between the two halves that will accommodate a penny or dime. Insert the larger coin into the slot and twist to separate the halves. The other method of securing the top and bottom halves of the remote head is using a Phillips Head screw. Lexus remote head keys have a Phillips Head screw securing the back cover. In addition, the Lexus style remote head cover has a lip just beneath the key ring slot that engages the two halves of the shell. This secondary source keeps the two halves together once the screw has been installed. Important: Do not over-tighten the screw during installation.

Once the two halves have been separated, you have access to the battery and the electrical circuit board. In most remote head keys, the circuit board should slide out from the customer’s remote head key. Almost every remote head key has at least one (coin shaped) battery. Depending upon the age of the vehicle, it may be a good idea to replace the battery when the electronics are installed into the new shell.

Next, originate or duplicate the customer’s key bitting onto the shell’s blade. Test the mechanical operation before installing the electronics package. Install the electronics package into the shell, making sure all of the buttons are in their proper positions.

FYI: When moving the electronics package from the remote head key to the new shell, I strongly recommend wearing a pair of disposable surgical gloves. This can eliminate any problems resulting from static electricity, etc.

The HATA HAT-L-02 Lexus replacement shell cover has a decal, which should be removed if a thicker style remote module is to be installed. Once the electronics package has been inserted, position the cover with the lip within the key ring opening. Lower the cover, slide it towards the tip of the key blade to position the lip, and have the cover opening over the threaded hole in the blade. If the two halves fit together the same as the original remote head key, do not remove the label.

Place the cover onto the shell and install the Phillips head screw. Test the remote operation. When assembling a snap-on style of remote head key, carefully place the cover onto the shell and by working your way around the outer edge snap the two halves together.

Rigid blade remote head keys operate Chrysler, Dodge, Honda, Jeep, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Pontiac, Saab, Scion and Toyota.

For this article, I used the HATA HAT-1269 Chrysler Four Button Remote Head Key. The type one and type two Chrysler Four Button Shells are HATA CHRY H4 and CHRY H4T.

The Short Blade Three Button Lexus Shell is HATA HAT-L-01 and the Long Blade Three Button Lexus Shell is HATA HAT-L-02. The Three Button Toyota Shell is HATA HAT-T-03.

For information on replacement remote head key shells, contact your local locksmith supplier or HATA at telephone 866-888-4282, web site