2020 Subaru Legacy grille

If you have a newer model Subaru in Capitola and you need to replace the key fob or add additional key fobs (you can have up to four total), an authorized Subaru dealership service center has to program the key fobs to work for your vehicle. However, if you have an older model Subaru and you've purchased a replacement key fob, you should be able to program it to your vehicle yourself--find out how at Santa Cruz Subaru, then find out how to replace the Subaru key fob battery as well! If you have any issues or questions, contact us near Monterey.

Steps to Programming a Subaru Key Fob

First, examine your key fob to determine whether it is the type that can be programmed yourself. These tend to be more of a teardrop shape whereas the modern key fobs that have to be programmed by the dealer look more like a bulging rectangle. You can also check your owner's manual to determine which type of fob you have. Then, follow the key fob programming process below.

  1. Pop the key fob case open to reveal the transmitter circuit board inside. You will see one or two series of numbers (8 digits each) on the transmitter.
  2. Write down the first 8-digit number series on a piece of paper, and keep it on hand to refer to during the programming process. 
  3. Pop the key fob case back together.
  4. Sit in the driver's seat of your Subaru with all doors closed and your vehicle turned off.
Subaru key fob

The next series of steps should be followed carefully and quickly in the exact order specified for successful programming.

  1. Open the driver's side door, use the door button control to unlock all doors, then close the driver's side door.
  2. Put your key in the ignition. 
  3. Turn the key so the electrical systems turn on but not the engine, then turn it back to the off position--you must do this quickly ten times in a row.
  4. After the tenth time, you should hear a chime from the instrument panel.
  5. Open and close the driver's side door again. You should hear the chime again, and your dome lights will flash in confirmation.
  6. You now have 45 seconds to program the 8-digit transmitter number into the engine computer using the lock/unlock button on the driver's side door while the chime continues.

Here's how programming the key fob transmitter number works:

  1. Locate the lock/unlock buttons in the driver's side door, right next to the window buttons.
  2. Looking at the first digit in the transmitter sequence, press the lock button the amount of times the number indicates, then press the unlock button once.
  3. Repeat for each following digit in the sequence.
  4. For example, if the transmitter number is '87654321', press the lock button 8 times, then the unlock button once, then the lock button 7 times, then the unlock button once, then the lock button 6 times, then the unlock button once, and so on until you complete the sequence.
  5. You should hear a chime coming from the outside of the vehicle in confirmation.
  6. Repeat steps 12 and 13 a second time to confirm the number sequence was entered correctly. 
  7. You should hear the vehicle's locking system click in engagement.
  8. Open and close the door, then press lock or unlock on your key fob.
  9. Remove the key from the ignition, and you should hear the chime outside again.
  10. Open and close the door once more, then in about five seconds, the key fob should be working.
  11. Press the buttons on your key fob to test if the programming process was successful.

How to Replace a Subaru Key Fob Battery

If you have a Subaru key fob that has stopped working, you may not need to replace it--it may just need a new battery. Determine which kind of key fob you haven, then follow the steps below to learn how to change the battery in a Subaru key fob.

Newer Subaru Key Fob (Bulging Rectangle Shape) - Requires a 2032 Battery

  1. On the back of the key fob, push the small silver tab to release and pull out a metal key.
  2. RIght next to where the key was pulled from, insert the tip of the key or a flathead screwdriver into the gap between the front and back of the key fob. 
  3. Twist gently to pop open the key fob cover.
  4. Locate the flat round battery inside the fob--it may be on the flip side of the transmitter circuit board.
  5. Release the battery from the tiny tabs securing in place, and pop your new 2032 battery in, ensuring the correct side is facing up.
  6. Put the battery back together and put the metal key back in, making sure everything snaps into place.

Older Subaru Key Fob (Teardrop Shape) - Requires a 2025 Battery

  1. Locate the small niche in the seam between the front and back of the key fob.
  2. Insert a small flathead screwdriver into the niche and twist to pop open the key fob.
  3. Use the screwdriver to pop the old battery out, and place the new 2025 battery in, ensuring it has the correct side facing up.
  4. Snap the two sides of the key fob back together, and you're all set!

Actual Subaru Key (Exposed Metal Key With Buttons) - Requires a CR 1620 Battery

  1. Locate the small niche in the seam between the front and back of the key encasement.
  2. Insert a small flathead screwdriver into the niche and twist to pop open and remove the encasement.
  3. Remove the smaller unit inside, and locate small tabs around the seams of this smaller unit.
  4. Press the tabs to open this encasement and reveal the battery inside.
  5. Remove the battery and replace it with a new CR 1620 battery, ensuring that the correct side is facing up.
  6. Snap the battery cover back together, making sure everything is lined up properly.
  7. Place the smaller unit back inside the key encasement, and snap everything closed.

Rely on Santa Cruz Subaru for Your Service Needs

If you have any issues with programming your Subaru key fob or with replacing your Subaru keyless entry fob battery, schedule service at Santa Cruz Subaru near Scotts Valley. Our Subaru-certified technicians can help you with whatever you need. You can also check out some of our additional service tips and tricks, like how to set your Subaru up for camping, to be better prepared on the roads from Apatos to Watsonville and beyond!