How to replace Saab keys

Updated February 21, 2017

For most new Saabs sold in the United Kingdom after 1997, the company devised a new theft protection device called TWICE (Theft Warning Integrated Central Electronics). It is a small unit, situated next to the ignition, that first electronically reads your key to see if it is valid and then activates the ignition. Obtaining new keys for these cars is possible, but involves a trip to your local Saab dealer to get the key and car worked on. Owners of Saabs that were made before 1998 do not have to be concerned with the new electronic keys.

Check the model year and make of your Saab vehicle. Owners of a 1999 to 2002 Saab 9-3, 2003 9-3 and the 1998-2011 Saab 9-5 will have an electronic key system and must be prepared to take their keys and vehicle to a Saab dealer or authorised service centre to obtain a workable replacement key. Owners of older Saabs can take their keys to any locksmith to have copies made. If all keys are missing, you will have to find a Saab mechanic and have a new ignition installed.

Look at your keys and see if you have the transponder key or the remote key. The transponder has a small chip that corresponds with the TWICE device, while a remote key acts from a distance like a garage door opener. Sometimes the remote is included with the transponder key in the form of a small "banana," so you may not have a separate key for the remote. Over all, Saab will allow you only four keys for each vehicle, two transponder keys and two remote keys. Basically, the transponder keys come in two types, one with a plastic head and one with a rubber head. Both types of remote keys (for doors and boots) have three buttons, labelled "Lock," "Unlock" and "Boot," and are basically identical except for a slight difference in the shape of the shaft. However, only the ones made before 2003 are interchangeable with the transponder keys. Remotes made in 2003 or later are not interchangeable.

Buy a new blank key and take it to your local Saab dealer, which will cut you a replacement. In most cases you can buy the blank at the dealer.

Take the newly cut key, car and all old keys to a Saab dealer or authorised service centre, so the technician or dealer can reprogram all the keys to work with the car's TWICE system. The dealer or mechanic will use combination tester, scanner and computer system checking and diagnosing car problems and specifications. Special software for each make of car is available along with the information needed to perform all operations.

Test all keys before leaving the garage or dealer, for Saab's TWICE device only allows programmed keys to start the engine.


You can check the number of keys for your car by first turning the ignition key to "on" and waiting one minute. Then press the "Boot" unlock button on the remote fob. The number of each type of key will be displayed on an electronic screen that is located to the left of the steering wheel.

Used Saab keys can be bought online, but it is possible that they may not work in all situations as a replacement.

If you wish to add just one key, you still need to have all keys reprogrammed.


If you lose all keys you have to replace the keys as well as the TWICE unit on the car. This latter electronic device is very expensive.

Things You'll Need

  • Spare key
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About the Author

Henri Bauholz is a professional writer covering a variety of topics, including hiking, camping, foreign travel and nature. He has written travel articles for several online publications and his travels have taken him all over the world, from Mexico to Latin America and across the Atlantic to Europe.