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Sentry Key Programming

Sentry Key Programming

DESCRIPTION
The Sentry Key Immobilizer System (SKIS) is available as a factory-installed option on this model. Vehicles equipped with this option can be readily identified by the presence of an amber SKIS indicator in the instrument cluster that will illuminate for about three seconds each time the ignition switch is turned to the On position, or by a gray molded rubber cap on the head of the ignition key. Models not equipped with SKIS still have a SKIS indicator in the cluster, but it will not illuminate when the ignition switch is turned to the On position. Also, models not  equipped with the SKIS have a black molded rubber cap on the head of the ignition key. The SKIS includes the following major components, which are described in further detail elsewhere in this service manual:

Powertrain Control Module (PCM) - The PCM is located on the right side of the dash panel in the engine compartment.
Sentry Key Immobilizer Module (SKIM) - The SKIM is located on the steering column near the ignition lock cylinder housing and an integral molded plastic antenna ring circles the ignition lock cylinder like a halo. The SKIM and its antenna are concealed beneath the steering column shrouds.
Sentry Key Transponder - The Sentry Key transponder is molded into the head of the ignition key, and concealed by a gray molded rubber cap.
SKIS Indicator - The SKIS indicator is located in the upper left corner of the instrument cluster overlay. Except for the Sentry Key  transponders, which rely upon Radio Frequency (RF) communication, hard wired circuitry connects the SKIS components to the electrical system of the vehicle. These hard wired circuits are integral to several wire harnesses, which are routed throughout the vehicle and retained by many different methods. These circuits may be connected to each other, to the vehicle electrical system and to the SKIS components through the use of a combination of soldered splices, splice block connectors, and many different types of wire harness terminal connectors and insulators. Refer to the appropriate wiring information. The wiring information includes wiring diagrams, proper wire and connector repair procedures, further details on wire harness routing and retention, as well as pin-out and location views for the various wire harness connectors, splices and grounds.

OPERATION
The Sentry Key Immobilizer System (SKIS) is designed to provide passive protection against unauthorized vehicle use by disabling the engine, after about two seconds of running, whenever any method other than a valid Sentry Key is used to start the vehicle. The SKIS is considered a passive protection system because it is always active when the ignition system is energized and does not require any customer intervention. The SKIS uses Radio Frequency (RF) communication to obtain confirmation that the key in the ignition switch is a valid key for operating the vehicle. The microprocessor-based SKIS hardware and software also uses electronic messages to communicate with other electronic modules in the vehicle over the Programmable Communications Interface (PCI) data bus

Pre-programmed Sentry Key transponders are provided with the vehicle from the factory. Each Sentry Key Immobilizer Module (SKIM) will recognize a maximum of eight Sentry Keys. If the customer would like additional keys other than those provided with the vehicle, they may be purchased from any authorized dealer. These additional keys must be programmed to the SKIM in the vehicle in order for the system to recognize them as valid keys. This can be done by the dealer using a DRBIII scan tool or, if Customer Learn programming is an available SKIS feature in the market where the vehicle was purchased, the customer can program the additional keys, as long as at least two valid Sentry Keys are already available.

The SKIS performs a self-test each time the ignition switch is turned to the On position, and will store fault information in the form of Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC’s) if a system malfunction is detected. The SKIS can be diagnosed, and any stored DTC’s can be retrieved using a DRBIII scan tool. Refer to the appropriate diagnostic information.

STANDARD PROCEDURE - SENTRY KEY TRANSPONDER PROGRAMMING
All Sentry Keys included with the vehicle are preprogrammed to work with the Sentry Key Immobilizer System (SKIS) when it is shipped from the factory. The Sentry Key Immobilizer Module (SKIM) can be programmed to recognize up to a total of eight Sentry Keys. When  programming a blank Sentry Key transponder, the key must first be cut to match the ignition switch lock cylinder in the vehicle for which it will be used. Once the additional or new key has been cut, the SKIM must be programmed to recognize it as a valid key. There are two possible  methods to program the SKIM to recognize a new or additional valid key, the Secured Access Method and the Customer Learn Method. Following are the details of these two programming methods.

SECURED ACCESS METHOD
The Secured Access method applies to all vehicles. This method requires the use of a DRBIII scan tool. This method will also require that you have access to the unique four-digit PIN code that was assigned to the original SKIM. The PIN code must be used to enter the Secured Access Mode in the SKIM. This PIN number may be obtained from the vehicle owner, from the original vehicle invoice, or from the DaimlerChrysler Customer Center. Refer to the appropriate diagnostic information for the proper Secured Access method programming procedures.

CUSTOMER LEARN METHOD
The Customer Learn feature is only available on domestic vehicles, or those vehicles which have a U.S. country code designator. This  programming method also requires access to at least two valid Sentry Keys. If two valid Sentry Keys are not available, or if the vehicle does not have a U.S. country code designator, the Secured Access Method must be used to program new or additional valid keys to the SKIM.

The Customer Learn programming method procedures are as follows:
(1) Obtain the blank Sentry Key(s) that are to be programmed as valid keys for the vehicle. Cut the blank key(s) to match the ignition switch lock cylinder mechanical key codes.
(2) Insert one of the two valid Sentry Keys into the ignition switch and turn the ignition switch to the On position.
(3) After the ignition switch has been in the On position for longer than three seconds, but no more than fifteen seconds, cycle the ignition switch back to the Off position. Replace the first valid Sentry Key in the ignition switch lock cylinder with the second valid Sentry Key and turn the ignition switch back to the On position. The second valid Sentry Key must be inserted in the lock cylinder within fifteen seconds of removing the first valid key.
(4) About ten seconds after the completion of Step 3, the SKIS indicator in the instrument cluster will start to flash and a single audible chime will sound to indicate that the system has entered the Customer Learn programming mode.
(5) Within sixty seconds of entering the Customer Learn programming mode, turn the ignition switch to the Off position, replace the valid Sentry Key with a blank Sentry Key transponder, and turn the ignition switch back to the On position.
(6) About ten seconds after the completion of Step 5, a single audible chime will sound and the SKIS indicator will stop flashing, stay on solid for three seconds, then turn off to indicate that the blank Sentry Key has been successfully programmed. The SKIS will immediately exit the Customer Learn programming mode and the vehicle may now be started using the newly programmed valid Sentry Key. Each of these steps  must be repeated and completed in their entirety for each additional Sentry Key that is to be programmed. If the above steps are not completed in the given sequence, or within the allotted time, the SKIS will exit the Customer Learn programming mode and the programming will be unsuccessful. The SKIS will also automatically exit the Customer Learn programming mode if it sees a non-blank Sentry Key transponder when it should see a blank, if it has already programmed eight (8) valid Sentry Keys, or if the ignition switch is turned to the Off position for more than about fifty seconds.

NOTE: If an attempt is made to start the vehicle while in the Customer Learn mode (SKIS indicator flashing), the SKIS will respond as though the vehicle were being started with an invalid key. In other words, the engine will stall after about two seconds of operation. No faults will be set.

NOTE: Once a Sentry Key has been programmed as a valid key to a vehicle, it cannot be programmed as a valid key for use on any other vehicle.

This page last updated: 16-Apr-2008

Content and Design © 2002-present WanderingTrail,  Ron Seegert
Common Sense and Safety should always be observed when working on your vehicle or doing modifications. Jackstands, wheel blocks, disconnecting the battery are a few of the basic safety precautions that should be used and may not be mentioned in the write ups on this site. You are responsible for your own installation, these write ups are a helpful guideline and should not be taken as an official installation instruction. My write up may be different from the kits currently out there, so alwasy double check the manufacturers installation instructions when installing anything. I try to keep the site up to date with changes that have occured as I discover them, but may not have the latest unless someone lets me know. If you feel that an install is above your capabilities after reading my write ups, I recommend getting together with a club and getting some help. Only a few times have I needed to employe some actual help from a shop to get something done. Usually welding or A/C work.
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