Hi All, I have read Numerous threads on the frustration and expense related to the requirement to Register Iginition keys with a vehicles Anti Theft System.
So I figured out how to beat it without modifying the vehicle or software.
I recently purchased a 2011 Titan which is certified preowned with the extended warranty service contract. So it was important that I not void my warranty.
They only gave me one Key and FOB (note to anyone buying a used Nissan, be sure to find out how many keys/FOB's your getting and if you need more to negotiate them as part of your deal BEFORE you sign on the dotted line).
I purchased a bunch of FOB's on Ebay and programmed them using the easily searchable procedure on this website and they work perfectly. The keys are another matter.
I called my local dealer (different then the dealer I purchased the truck from) to inquire about extra keys...
100 bucks for the blank
100 bucks to cut/register it
which turned to
which turned to
which turned to
oh it's on Nissan...
To immediately mitigate the risk of losing my only key and turning my pretty new truck into a 7000 pound parking ticket holder I sought after a second key.
Turns out that Ace Hardware can cut and register keys for Nissans. It took the key maker two attempts to get it to register but it worked. They charged me $80. Much better then the dealers $200, but still a bit of a sting when I'm used to paying $3.19 for a little metal bumpy stick to make my wheels go.
Plan on about 20 minutes for the key guy to walk back and forth to your car a few times (you should park close to the store). I would also call ahead and confirm that they have a "certified chip key associate" in the store at the time of your visit.
While I was there, I also had them cut me two non transponder keys for possible experimentation/lockout contingency.
My goal was now to figure out how to get the titan to start with a non transponder key, while not altering anything that would void the warranty.
After some research I figured out that the antenna module that interrogates the key is just behind, underneath and slightly to the right of the hole that key goes into.
I removed the plastic dash panel under the steering wheel (two Phillips head screws on the bottom and just pulled the top straight back to pull the plastic snaps out).
Then I removed the metal panel underneath (4 Phillips head screws).
I then repeatedly attempted to Start the Titan with a non chip key while holding the Ace Hardware registered key underneath the now exposed ignition column. It took a few tries but eventually I found a sweet spot. While holding the registered key in place I managed to slip some zip ties around it and very securely zip tie the registered key to the NATS antenna module.
I double checked that it would still start, which it did. Then put the dash back to together and check that it would start again, which it did.
Here is a shot of the key zip tied up under the dash from the view of the gas pedal. It's zip tied to a small black box that is the NATS antenna module (sorry didn't take a pic before attaching the key)
Here is a reverse shot, you can see the plastic square that receives the plastic panel directly below the ignition as a point of reference between the pics. (Note, that the key in the ignition is a non transponder key and starts the Titan if turned).
I now have a Titan that will start using keys that only cost 3 bucks to grind, and FOB's that only cost 8-10 bucks on ebay.
As for security I noticed that even with the registered keys, if I don't unlock the car with the FOB first then it won't start. I also can't shut the alarm off with the registered key, only with the FOB. Long story short, my Titan won't start without a Programmed FOB. If I ever lose a FOB/keyset I can always "deprogram" the lost FOB by running the FOB programming procedure with my remaining FOB's (of which I have 4 of, the max the truck will allow).
I hope this helps those out there who are just plain annoyed/appalled by the ridiculousness of the NATS system and the cost of keys. My truck gets used by several people and it's convenient that they all have a key (not to mention a spare). We also seem to lose about one key a year on average. If I had to do this through the dealer it would have cost me 600 bucks just for keys, and I didn't even ask about FOB's. It would also cost me about 200 bucks a year on average to replace the keys that we inevitably lose, plus the cost of FOB's. With this "hack" in place it now cost me about 15 bucks to replace a lost key/FOB set, and I can do it without a dealer appointment. I've already had a few extra non transponder keys cut at ACE Hardware and am ordering two more FOB's to have on hand to replace the ones we will lose with minimum inconvenience.
I also noted that you only need the transponder near the NATS Antenna during starting, once the Titan is running you can remove the registered key from the ignition area and the truck will still function normally with only the non transponder key in the ignition.
Good luck all, happy hacking!