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Discussion Starter #1
Many (hundreds) of posts on this useful Outback forum, question the use/purpose of the valet key, in its various incarnations, across the Subaru Outback (and other) generations. See fob/valet key photos below.

The Gen5 valet key or rear button push PIN, is a means to get into your Outback after a sporting outing without risking loss or water damage to your very expensive fob - hiking, running, biking, kayaking, surfing, etc. Gen 5 owners also have the option of programming a PIN entry number for keyless vehicle access. It will not start your engine. Protect your electronic fob from loss or water immersion - it's extremely expensive, and a huge pain to replace.

We have a situation where we needed to leave the vehicle with engine running for minutes-long, doors locked, and A/C on for dog safety and comfort during, road trips WITHOUT resorting to a $600 dealer installed OEM remote start system.

If you live in the frozen north, you probably already opted for one of these remote start - to warm your engine/vehicle interior from the comfort of your house.

How it works --- Ensuring possession of your fob and valet key, with engine running and a/c on, you have to manually lock all your doors (cannot use the fob), making sure no other smart fobs are inside the vehicle. You later re-enter the vehicle with one of your valet keys in the driver's door lock.

…Without reverting to the ONLY solution our Subaru dealer(s) could identify - a $595 plus tax OEM factory retrofit “remote start” system ("GENUINE SUBARU Legacy & Outback Remote Engine Start System"). Another option other than this Subaru Dealer option, would be to install an aftermarket remote start/alarm system combo.

Two disappointments – 1st first surprise…

None of the Subaru staffers we spoke with (two dealerships) knew that a door unlock only, one-sided “laser cut” (actually 3-axis ground, “sidewinder” key machine these machines can cost almost $1,000 to several thousand dollars each) “emergency” key stub is stored inside each Subaru electronic key fob, and that minimal key can be used to unlock the door the old-fashioned way while the engine is running/idling. You insert the physical key stub I the lock opening in the driver’s door handle (laser cut face towards the front of the car). This key can be used to open the door (but not start the car) e.g. in the event the fob battery is dead, or the fob electronics/buttons are damaged e.g. smashed or dropped in water.
Subaru calls this key a single sided inside cut high security laser cut emergency key.” This is stored inside the “fob.” Subaru calls the fobkeyless access with push-button start system access key

2nd surprise…

The Subaru staffers we spoke to (two dealerships) were unaware that depressing the square silver button (with a pen tip or e.g. a jeweler’s screwdriver) on the back of the fob housing will release said key (single sided inside cut high security laser cut emergency key). Note: it reinstalls in the fob housing with a “click,” without tools, if you press the key stub in the original hole/position).

Note: Removing the physical key stub from the fob effectively removes the fob’s keychain loop from the fob housing, so we elected to get separate laser cut (3-axis ground) keys with replacement Subaru fob housings found on Amazon at $17 each so our original fobs would remain intact (with stub key/keyring head installed). You can find more info here https://subaru.oemdtc.com/238/repla...information-2000-subaru-to-current-all-models

We located a local locksmith who had a “Sidewinder” key cutting machine, to duplicate our original emergency keys on the blanks we purchased via Amazon. These Subaru fob emergency key blanks are thinner and more difficult to locate than more common VW, Audi, Mercedes Benz “laser cut” sidewinder key blanks.

A mentioned above, if you want/need a separate key to put in a pocket in your sports gear/in your bike took kit/backpack any reputable locksmith can cut the laser cut key once you have the blank(s).
PIN Entry Option (engine off - no key necessary):

For trailhead parking situations (engine *not* idling situations) - please be aware that a private, personally programmable, PIN entry option (once programmed) is available on Subarus. You program a 5-digit entry code via a rear hatch button on Subaru vehicles, in conjunction with the fob, please see your owner’s manual or YouTube videos. Please note - this 5-digit PIN entry feature (once programmed), does NOT work if the engine is running with the doors are locked - you will set off a continuous audio warning tone.

Also be aware that it is possible to lock yourself out of the vehicle manually, with the electronic fob inside, by using the manual door lock buttons (not the fob lock button). You cannot do this if you lock the doors with the electronic fob buttons, the vehicle sensing system will admonish you with beeps and immediately pop-open the door locks if it senses the fob is inside the vehicle. We have seen forum postings (elsewhere) where owners were upset they locked themselves out of the vehicle (manually) with fob inside and had to get emergency locksmith services. Had they programmed the PIN entry in advance, they could have gotten back in the non-running vehicle with their PIN.

Finally, please be aware if a thief breaks into the locked car with the engine running, even if fob is not present - they can temporarily steal it/drive it away but once they stop the engine, it stalls, or runs out of fuel, it can’t be restarted without the original electronic fob.

With fob present, a thief can restart the vehicle so it is best to not leave the fob in the vehicle or at least hide it in an odd location. Of course, in our case, the thief would have to deal with a 110 pound Catahoula (<-- you can Google that) hunting dog – who would immediately take issue with their presence.
 

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Good info. So one buys the blanks from Amazon, then go to a locksmith .. and how do they know how to cut the key? Is there a code on the tag of the spare? Or take one of the originals in?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
rldoutback take the blank "emergency key" along with with your original key to a locksmith equipped with a 3-axis laser cut / "sidewinder" key machine who can then duplicate it.

I'd first call around to several local locksmith shops because not all shops have this this type key machine.
 
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