Mark VIII keyless/remote and PATS key programming

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Staff member
Sep 12, 2023
North Ridgeville, OH
Vehicle Details
1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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Keyless code programming

The keyless entry keypad allows entry point security control without either a key or fob via use of a factory-set 5 digit code. You also have the ability to enter up to 3 additional personal codes, one each associated with the two available driver personalities used to recall seat, steering wheel (for 97-98) and mirror positions.

Programming your own code:
Enter the factory set code. This can be found on the hinge in the trunk or behind the small door on the left side of the trunk as shown below:​
Press the 1-2 Button within five seconds of step 1.​
Enter your personal five digit code. Enter each digit within five seconds of the previous one.​
Enter a sixth digit to indicate which personality should be recalled by the personal code.​
1-2 recalls personality 1​
3-4 recalls personality 2​
9-0 does not recall a personality​
All the vehicle doors will lock and unlock to confirm programming of the new code. Each personality driver profile (personality 1 or personality 2) can be associated with only one personal code. The factory set code cannot be associated with a personality code.​
Do not set a code that includes five of the same number or presents them in sequential order. Thieves often first try these types of codes to see if they can get in.​
You can program up to three personality codes. This does not replace the factory code.​

To erase all the personal codes programmed to a vehicle:
Enter the factory set code.​
Press 1-2 within five seconds of step 1.​
Press and hold 1-2 for two seconds. All the vehicle doors will lock and then unlock to confirm erasure.​

Keyless remote fob programming
1st Generation (1993-1996) Mark VIII

The 93-96 Mark VIII keyless/remote entry system is much like that found in the period MN12 Thunderbirds and Cougars, and the programming procedure is the same for each. However, the plug used to place the RKEM into "learn" mode on the Mark VIII is found in the passenger compartment, unlike the location in the trunk of MN12s.

  1. Empty your glove box
  2. With the glove box open all of the way, pull the tabs at the back towards the center of the glove box so that the box will open past its factory stopping point. On mine, the one at the top left is clearly visible, and the one on the right is actually located in the middle of the side.
  3. Put the key in the ignition and rotate it to the on position. You do not have to start the car.
  4. Behind where the glove box was, you should see all kinds of control boxes with oodles of wire going here and there. You should also see a white or gray plug that is not connected to anything. In mine it is located at the bottom left. With the key still in the on position, short the two pins in this connector with a piece of wire. It only takes a second, and when you remove the wire, the locks should cycle one time to acknowledge that you are in the learn mode.
  5. Press the lock button on the remote that you want to be associated with Number 1 mirror and seat settings. The locks should cycle one time.
  6. Press the lock button on the remote that you want to be associated with Number 2 mirror and seat settings, if present. The locks should again cycle one time.
  7. Press the lock button on the remote that you want to be Number 3, if present. The locks should cycle once more. The third and any subsequent remotes will not be associated with seat and mirror settings.
  8. When you are done programming all your remotes, off the key and return the glove box to its rightful place.

2nd Generation (1997-1998) Mark VIII

The 97-98 Mark VIII uses a completely different module than the 93-96 and MN12s. The learning procedure is below.

NOTE: The driver door module (DDM) erases all previously stored keyless entry remote transmitters when programming a new transmitter. If you are adding an additional transmitter, the existing transmitters stored in memory must be programmed at the same time.

  1. Enter the permanent factory keyless entry keypad code on the driver's door keypad.
  2. Press the 1/2 button within 5 seconds to activate the programming mode. Holding the 1/2 button for more than two seconds will erase all stored customer codes. The door locks will lock, then unlock, confirming the codes are erased. The existing codes do not need to be erased to program new codes. You might need to repeat this step twice.
  3. Press and hold any button on the keyless entry remote transmitter. The doors locking and unlocking confirm the programming.
  4. The DDM will automatically associate the transmitter to a personality setting. The first transmitter will be position l and the second transmitter will be position 2. The remaining transmitters, if programmed, will not be associated to a personality setting.
  5. If additional transmitters are to be programmed, program each transmitter within 7.5 seconds of the last transmitter.
After all transmitters are programmed:
  • A new keyless entry keypad code can be programmed within 7.5 seconds of the last transmitter.
  • Press keyless entry keypad buttons 7/8 and 9/0 at the same time to exit program mode.
  • Wait for 7.5 seconds; the DDM will exit the program mode automatically

Additional PATS transponder key programming
(2nd Generation (1997-1998) Mark VIII only)

Starting with the 1997 model year, all Mark VIIIs were equipped with a passive anti-theft system from the factory. This PATS stores the code found in a small chip (transponder) embedded within the head of the key. Whenever the vehicle is started, the PATS compares the code found in the key to a list of codes stored in memory that are authorized to start the car. If the code doesn't match any of those stored, the vehicle will not start - even if the key is cut correctly.

You can program additional transponder keys as long as you have at least one functional key. If you do not have a working key, a different procedure must be followed. If that fails, you will need to seek the assistance of a dealership.

Programming additional keys
  1. Insert an existing programmed key into the ignition cylinder.
  2. Turn the ignition cylinder to ON (Run) and back to OFF.
  3. Remove the existing key and, within fifteen seconds, insert the new key and turn it to ON (RUN).
  4. The security light will light up for two seconds and then go out to indicate success in programming the key into the vehicle.
Programming a new key without a functional key
  1. Insert a properly cut transponder key into the ignition cylinder and turn it to the ON (Run) position. You will see the security light blinking for 15 minutes and go out.
  2. Once the theft light has gone out you have 5 minutes to turn the key to the OFF position.
  3. Turn the same key back to the ON position. The security light will blink for 15 minutes and go out.
  4. Once the theft light has gone out for the second time you have 5 minutes to turn the key to the OFF position.
  5. Turn the same key back to the ON position. The security light will blink for 15 minutes and go out.
  6. Turn the key to the OFF position and back to ON and verify that the security light goes out. The key is now programmed. All other keys have been erased out of the system.
Note: This process takes a minimum of 45 minutes to complete. It is strongly advised to connect to a secondary power source such as a trickle charger to power the battery for this procedure. It is easy to get distracted while doing procedures like this, we advise you to set a timer (like the one that is standard on most smart phones) for 15 minutes to alert you so you do not miss your opportunity and have to start all over again.

RKEM procedures adapted from the original owners' manuals. PATS training procedure adapted from McGuire lock.
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