Key Programming Mercury Cougar 1997-2002

Mercury Cougar 1997-2002 Key Programming Procedure


The following are the key programming procedures for the 1997, 1999 and 2002 Mercury Cougar.

Mercury Cougar 1997


1. Put the new key into the ignition. Turn it to the ON position. The dashboard security light will flash for 15 minutes. Once the dashboard security light stops flashing, you have five minutes to begin Step 2.

2. Turn the ignition OFF and then back to the ON position. The dashboard security light will flash for 15 additional minutes.

3. Repeat Step 2.

4. Once the dashboard security light has turned off for the third time, the key will be able to function in the car. It has been programmed into the car’s computer and has replaced ALL previous electronic key codes — the computer will not recognize any other key.


1. Put the current key into the ignition.

2. Turn the ignition ON and back to OFF.

3. Remove the current key and insert the new key, turning it ON. You MUST do this within 15 seconds.

4. The security light will switch on for two seconds, confirming that the key has been successfully programmed into the vehicle.


Mercury Cougar 1998 +

ADD KEY (Requires two working keys):

1. Put a current key into the ignition.

2. Turn the ignition to ON, then back to the OFF position.

3. Remove the key and insert a second key. Turn it ON and back to the OFF position. You MUST do this within five seconds.

4. Before ten seconds have elapsed, put a new key in and turn the ignition ON. After one second, turn the key back to the OFF position.

5. The dashboard security light will glow for three seconds. This confirms the programming of the new key has been successful.


About Mercury Cougar

Ford engineers had finished designing the third generation of the Ford Probe by the mid-1990s. The redesigned Probe, which was scheduled to debut in 1998, switched its design from the Mazda MX-6 to a basis shared with the Ford Contour. Ford announced a dramatic downsizing of its coupe products at the end of the 1997 model year, with Ford eliminating the Thunderbird and Probe and Lincoln-Mercury losing the Cougar and Lincoln Mark VIII (the latter, after 1998). The Contour-based Ford Probe was continued into production to make place for the redesigned 1999 Ford Mustang and all-new Ford Escort ZX2, with Ford moving the vehicle to the Lincoln-Mercury Division and giving it the Mercury Cougar moniker.

Mercury debuted the eighth-generation Mercury Cougar for the 1999 model year at the 1998 Los Angeles Auto Show, after skipping the 1998 model year. The first front-wheel-drive Cougar, which replaced the Ford Probe, switched market sectors from two-door personal luxury coupes to three-door sport compacts, introducing the first Mercury sport hatchback coupe since the 1986 Mercury Capri.

The eighth-generation Mercury Cougar, while offered under the Ford brand in Europe and Australia, was the first Mercury automobile sold in North America without a direct Ford model equivalent since the 1991–1994 Mercury Capri.

The eighth-generation Cougar (marketed towards younger buyers, similar to the ZX2) initially outsold its predecessor in sales, but it failed to compete against sedans (the Mercury Sable and Grand Marquis) in the Mercury model range. While coupes had been sold in Lincoln-Mercury dealerships for decades, the Cougar’s move to the sports compact segment presented a challenge to salespeople who were used to selling luxury-segment vehicles to new-car customers as well as luring younger buyers to Mercury showrooms.

Ford announced another model line restructure in 2002, with the Cougar, Mercury Villager, Lincoln Continental, and Ford Escort all being phased out. The Ford Contour/Mercury Mystique (Ford Mondeo MkII) was discontinued in 2000, however the Cougar survived two model years longer. The Ford Mondeo platform was no longer used in North America until it was merged with the 2013 Ford Fusion as part of the model line redesign, thereby leaving the Mercury Cougar without a donor platform.

The final Mercury Cougar rolled off the assembly line on August 9, 2002, and until the 2006 Mercury Milan, the Mercury model line offered no cars with four-cylinder engines.


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