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-   -   NEVER leave w/o spare key! (

mimiandrews 01-17-2019 08:39 AM

There is an MB dealer in San Antonio. Maybe you can get a spare key when you are there.

gkoche 01-17-2019 09:26 AM

Has anyone bought keys and fobs from eBay? I've replaced fobs for my Buick and Infiniti cars. In both cases they work perfectly and only cost around $10 delivered. So much cheaper than the hundreds that the dealers wanted to replace the fobs.
Obviously needing the key itself is another animal, but when I search for Mercedes Sprinter, it shows plenty of key+fob options for $20 or less:

I don't have experience with the key cutting part but might be a good option for those who just need an extra spare.

Boxster1971 01-17-2019 10:08 AM


Originally Posted by InterBlog (Post 2200680)
MB will cut a fobless T1N key for about $70. I use that as my spare when Iím traveling solo. IIRC they call it a Mickey Mouse key internally.

They donít like to cut them - they prefer people to pay for the whole fob. But they will do it upon request.

Will a fobless T1N key start the engine? I have several for my 2013 Interstate, but they will only unlock the doors. They donít have chip to start engine. They were only about $20 and we use them to secure vehicle when we are each away from the vehicle at a camp site.

Lily&Me 01-17-2019 11:49 AM

1 Attachment(s)
David from Quality Key Service Locksmith brought me two keys, one of which he made into a spare to use with the fob to start the engine, the other was a custom key he made from brass to replace the one in the fob.

The custom key is in the fob, and it works.

He tells me to go to MB and get a proper steel key, which I will, but for now we are back on the road.

No, a fobless key will not start the engine, it needs the chip in the fob.

You can start it with the fobless key, but have to hold the fob near it to do so.



Brezzin 01-17-2019 12:23 PM

This story hit home for me as I've been wanting to get an extra key for a while but just didn't do it. The airstream came with two keys. I use an indoor storage place that keeps a key so they can move it around as needed an I keep the other one.

So after reading this story this morning, I went down to the Mercedes dealership and ordered an additional key/fob. $202.00 (after taxes) for the key/fob to be ordered and $60.00 for programming once it gets here.

Expensive but cheaper than going through what Lily&me is going through.


Wazbro 01-17-2019 01:14 PM

Not sure about MB, on many vehicles ALL keys or FOBs with chips must be programmed to work at the same time. Meaning you if want a 3rd key and only take 1 key and the new key to get programmed, your other key will not work anymore.

rmkrum 01-17-2019 01:37 PM

Whats going on with the key fob is that it has an electronic chip in it that is read by an antenna in the vicinity of the steering wheel or around the slot for the key. When the car computer 'asks' for a key fob, the fob responds with a coded signal.

The chip puts out a complicated coded signal that the engine control computer reads, matches to one in its memory to confirm that the known "real" key is in place. If it does not find any real key fob close by, it simply refuses to start. Even if some other coded fob is in the area, if the computer does not know about it, nothing happens.

The bad part is that with some cars, like Toyotas, for my real-life example, the engine computer periodically checks to see if the fob is still there--and shuts down if it is not. The Toyota computer seems to check when the engine is idling and the car is not moving. It complains by beeping inside the car before it shuts down...

So, Maggie, keep the old fob and the newly cut non-fob key close together when you are driving with the non-fob replacement key until you get this fully resolved. I have no idea how the Mercedes system works, but you can bet it will be inconvenient in some way if the computer decides the fob is not present...

Lily&Me 01-17-2019 01:47 PM

Thanks for all that, rmkrum.

I have acquired a level of insight and understanding about my key that I didnít know existed. :lol:

I am using the key he made and put into the fob, keeping the fobless one as a spare.


Mansderm161 01-17-2019 02:05 PM

Yes, thanks for this insight. I will also order a spare next time I'm in for service.

Brezzin 01-17-2019 02:09 PM


Originally Posted by Wazbro (Post 2200849)
Not sure about MB, on many vehicles ALL keys or FOBs with chips must be programmed to work at the same time. Meaning you if want a 3rd key and only take 1 key and the new key to get programmed, your other key will not work anymore.

Ok so if I understand you correctly, when the system reprograms for the third key, it generates a new passcode (for lack of a better term). So all existing keys need to be reprogrammed with that new passcode. Thanks thats pretty important information.

InterBlog 01-17-2019 04:19 PM


Originally Posted by Boxster1971 (Post 2200770)
Will a fobless T1N key start the engine? ...

Yup - I just verified it with my Boaty McBoatface key (the one I take kayaking). The fob has to be adjacent, but it does work.

Now, what would happen if I took the fob and walked away after the engine started? I do not wish to find this out. I had verified previously that this spare key will NOT start the engine on its own. Some models of cars do stop dead if their fob signal is removed during transit. Multiple Facebook stories of fighting couples where one throws the key ring out the car window and then they stall in the middle of the freeway. Yes. I'm not kidding. Then they go on Facebook saying "Please help us find our keys." I say it again - I'm not kidding.


Good to have it verified because I'd only previously used this for door-opening purposes, not for engine-running purposes. There had been previous speculation about a chip component in the metal key itself (not just in the fob). Apparently not so.

And BTW, in case nobody mentioned this yet, the probable reason why Maggie's key spit is that some dufus had previously used it as a pry tool. By that I mean, not Maggie - the rig's previous owner. Likely the metal got fatigued at that point, and it just took until today (or yesterday) for the consequences to finally phone home.

OTRA15 01-17-2019 09:11 PM

Glad this is getting sorted out Maggie!

Is it too soon for a lame attempt at humor . . . ?

As Billy Crystal might say [you gotta get his accent right]:

"Your new key looks absolutely fobulous, dahling!"


[ . . . groans in the background . . . ]

rmkrum 01-17-2019 11:57 PM

Iím waiting for the obligatory Ďrimshotí.....

OTRA15 01-18-2019 04:25 AM



Lily&Me 01-18-2019 05:07 AM

Yep, everything is working just fine, and thanks, everyone. :)

In sum, it seems best to carry an additional key on a fob, in case the one being used is lost or becomes disabled or whatever, but also just a separate key in case one breaks. :bb:

For the record, I had not used my key to pry anything. :lol:


JC2 01-18-2019 08:22 AM

Maggie, glad the key is working as expected. A good possibility for the broken key is that PO had it with several keys and the extra weight/vibration weakened it until finally breaking.

Hoping for good luck for rest of your journey.

Lily&Me 01-18-2019 11:15 AM

Thank you. :)


WhereStream 01-18-2019 12:15 PM

After reading this adventure story, I went looking for the hide-a-key thing I put together that has a truck key, keys to the Airstream door and a key to open the Airstream storage doors.

I must have hidden it well, because ... :huh:

Alex AVI 01-18-2019 01:11 PM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by WhereStream (Post 2201110)
I must have hidden it well, because ... :huh:

WHERESTREAM - Been there, done that :lol:

duckdave 01-23-2019 11:52 AM

Place to carry spare key and a bit of other stuff
1 Attachment(s)
I got one of these. It's called a HitchSafe <>
Attachment 332240
It fit's inside your 2" hitch receiver. There is a nice cover that disguises it so it would not draw attention to someone unless they know about it. It uses a 4-number combination. It would take someone a very long time to break the code unless you choose something easy to remember like 8-8-8-8. Don't do that.

You can't lock the safe unless the code is dialed in. If you somehow manage to lock your safe, when not installed in the receiver, you can send it to the company. They have a machine that manually tries all the possible codes until it finds one.

I put my key/fob inside a small plastic bag to make it more waterproof, although the hitch safe seems very waterproof itself; I've never found water in inside.

The hitch receiver itself is made of like 1/4" steel and is securely welded onto a larger hunk of steel, so the fortress is relatively impenetrable.

Of course, it won't work if you have to use the receiver for something else like a bike rack, back tray, or if you are towing.

The older model Interstates on the T1N chassis are prone to locking issues, at the least the auto locking mechanism is confusing. In any case, you do not want to leave the vehicle with all the keys inside. I don't know if they made improvements on newer models.

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