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One Key to Rule them All? 1/2 & 1/2 valet key(s)?

11 January 2021
Ontario, Canada
A question about the keys I received with my 2001, 2 of which seem kind of like 1/2 & 1/2 valet keys? I received 3 spare keys and assumed 1 was a valet key. No key with all-red plastic in a plastic case, but one with red "ACURA" text instead of the Acura logo.

However, 2 of the keys are strange (2&3). I know what a valet key is and I consulted the owner's manual with no enlightenment. The keys work like this (Left to Right in the picture):
  1. Starts the car, opens the glove box, and opens the trunk, not much sign of use. An original key left as a spare?
  2. Starts the car, opens the glove box, but WILL NOT open the trunk, ++worn from use. I didn't know this was an option. Original key that got used a fair bit and wore down in a way that won't work in the trunk somehow?
  3. Red letters on black, older style smaller grip. Turns in the ignition, green security light flashes to indicator an immobilizer issue, but the car won't start. Opens the glovebox. Does NOT open the Trunk. No idea what this would be for. Seems to be a copy of #2 without the RF programmed. What good is a key that only opens the glovebox (and activates the trunk release)? For listening to the stereo?
  4. Starts the car, inserts in but will NOT open the glove box, and will NOT open the trunk. Seems like a straightforward original valet key except I thought they were supposed to be grey, as per the manual.
PXL_20230623_034827458-min (1).jpg

Anyone have an explanation? I was wondering if the glovebox or trunk lock cylinders were replaced since they don't seem to match somehow in that 2 keys work on the glovebox but not the trunk (more wear?), but I can't figure out how someone could wind up with this combination of keys.
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#2 I had no idea a key could be cut to open the glove box, but not the trunk. I'm also leaning toward it being worn in just the right way that it would work with one, but not the other.
#3 is an early key for cars without an immobliser, so maybe the previous owner bought it by mistake or they just liked the look.
#4 Sounds like they just bought a regular key, but had it cut like a valet key so it's not the grey color.
I am thinking your #2 key is normal and is just worn out. I agree with @MaxGeek that your #3 key is a non immobilizer key. I am goin to speculate that the reason it is chained to #2 is that it has become the opening things key with #2 being the starting things key so you need two keys to do the job of one.

The #1 versus the #4 key is a mystery. The first observation is that it is likely not a cloned key because the Acura symbol is trademarked. Perhaps it is a pre coded Acura blank that has gone through the learning process to enter the code into the ECU. Maybe the immobilizer chip in the original owner's valet key failed and they got a new key form Acura to replace the failed valet key. The dealer may not have had any grey pre coded T5 blanks in stock so they just used a black blank.

My 2000 also has key mysteries. Like seemingly every other NSX with 2 or more previous owners I did not get a learning key or a valet key. The two keys that I did get look like your #1 key except one is silver like yours and the other is red. Both keys do all the required functions equally smoothly; but, they have distinctly different cut patterns and the pattern differences are not just a wear thing. It is almost like somebody has gone in and removed all the pins from my lock cylinders so that any blank will work.
#2 Is not logical as one can open the trunk via the glove box and driver door switch. It is likey a worn or mis-cut key
#3 that *should* be the valet key 35114-SL0-A01

I have removed the tumblers from locks when I lose keys or too lazy/hard/expensive/time-consuming, to rekey all the cylinders alike.
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#4 the valet key should be thicker and therefore it shall not pass...compare it to #3.

So are you saying that #4 is a correct valet key, it is just not grey? I never had an NSX valet key so I don't know what they are supposed to be like. I had a grey valet key for my 2003 Pilot and it was thick as you describe; but, obviously thick. To me, the #4 key looks like the normal key in terms of its thickness. If @tturkstra can use a caliper to measure the thickness that would confirm whether it is a true valet key dressed up as a regular key.
My 03 came with two main keys with remotes, along with the "leather" covers, a grey valet key with attached key code tag, and a red key still in its package.
I would have thought the S2000 came with a red key also, but I don't see one. Anybody own a first year S2k, that could chime in if there was a red key included?
The red learning key is specific to the first generation immobilizer systems. The NSX was one of the first Honda products with an immobilizer chip in the key. I think by around 2000 Honda had ditched that learning key system on new models because my 2003 Pilot did not have a learning key. I expect that the S2000 probably got the later design without learning key. The NSX probably never got that revision to the immobilizer system because it was low production and nearing the end of product life.

The learning key system may have had more down side than up side because despite the warnings, more than a few owners (when you include the other early Acura models with the system) did attempt to start their cars with the learning key despite the warnings rendering their car a lump that had to be towed to the dealer.
I tried again, and also tried each key both ways. One of my old Honda Accord keys wore down in a way that it then only worked in one of the orientations. I always wondered if it would stop working entirely.
Key #2 starts it, opens the glove box, but will not open the trunk, but it's not that the glovebox tumblers were removed because Key #4 won't open the glovebox but does start the car. Key's from a friend's Acura won't turn anything. Adding on #3 to #2 doesn't help because it won't open the trunk either.
Key #3 won't start it (no chip) but it still works in the glove box, but not the trunk. I guess it's for 14 year-olds who are only allowed to sit in it and listen to the radio. You can keep the booze safe in the trunk as long as they don't know to open the glovebox, flip the switch, & use the trunk button.
Key #4 inserts in the trunk & glove box but will not turn in either. Seems to be a valet key. It's not that I've seen a grey valet key - I only thought that because that's what it says in the owner's manual.
All 4 keys are 2.5 mm thick with 8.8 mm handles, 78.8 mm long.
I can't believe @Old Guy is OK with a lock cylinder that any key will turn, although I guess there is still the safety of the immobiliser chip.
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I can't believe @Old Guy is OK with a lock cylinder that any key will turn, although I guess there is still the safety of the immobiliser chip.

I don't know that any key will operate the lock cylinders. All I know is that the two keys that came with the car are slightly different in their patterns. One of the keys has a silver Acura symbol just like yours and the other has the same symbol; but, in red. I thought all original keys were black / silver so perhaps my black / red is a replacement and the cutting was less than perfect; but, close enough to work.

One of a few previous owner mysteries that my car has?
I have a valet key, new in bag p/n:35114-SL0-A01. It is the same as key No3 with the ACURA debossing, but the script is not painted red. I cannot determine what the effective difference is.

35113-SL0-A11 = metal monel key (aka titanium), NLA, but on Amazon for US$178
35113-SL0-A01 = black plastic head key debossed with red NSX lettering
35114-SL0-A01 = valet key, Acura
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Perplexing keys. Today was warm & I tried again. Key #2 now works in the trunk in 1 orientation but not the other. #3 is unchanged and #4 is a classic valet key. So I'll use key #2 and save #1 for future copies. No sense keeping #3. I'll save #4 for a future owner since I've never actually used valet parking. Done.
I'm so confused...:eek::geek: