We’ve all done it. The car keys just seem to disappear. They jump ship from pockets and purses, only to be found months later in the most obvious place. But nevertheless, we can’t go months without our car keys. If you need to replace your key fob, for whatever reason, keep reading to learn what your next steps should be.
What Is a Key Fob?
Before we dive in, it’s important to make sure that you actually have a key fob entry car. They are more complex and expensive to replace than standard keys. For this reason, you should verify that you actually have a key fob.
It’s a programable device that communicates with your car to unlock, lock, and allow you to turn on the car. You can unlock your trunk, use your panic button, and generally manage the automotive security system.
This is all done via a piece of plastic that is equipped with electronic components. A radio signal is transmitted between your key fob and your automotive equipment. It’s safe to say that having a working key fob is absolutely vital!
It allows you to remotely unlock and lock your car. It can also be used for keyless ignition, although many fobs will still have a physical key.
What Is the Difference Between a Transponder Key and a Key Fob?
The days of a simple, flat metal key are truly gone. Anymore, a car key refers to the small computer that lives in your pocket and can create a loud sound, warm up the car, or even open a trunk at the touch of a button.
But now we need to worry about the different types of electronic keys.
A transponder key is a standard metal key but it also contains a transponder chip. It essentially adds another level of security to your car by sending a serial number to your car. The car has to recognize that number in order for the car to start. Basically, if someone tried to copy your key, they would also need to copy the transmitter piece which is not an easy feat. To copy or repair a transmitter, you’ll need to talk to a special locksmith who has the capability.
In this article, we’re focusing on fixing key fobs, but whether you’re having problems with a transponder key or a key fob, we can help you fix it!
Try This Before Replacing Your Broken Key Fob
If you haven’t lost your key fob but it’s simply not working, there are a few things that you can try before you pay to get it replaced.
Replace the Battery
A tried and tested method! Changing the battery on your key fob may solve your problem.
To change the battery on a key fob, follow these steps. Keep in mind that because key fobs can be different, you may need to skip a step if it doesn’t apply to you.
Remove the Key From the Fob
Some will have a backup key stored inside. Remove this key so that you can access the battery. You should be able to move a slider or press a button to release the physical key from the key fob.
Unscrew the Back of the Key Fob
On the back of the key fob, you’ll be able to remove a small screw. Set the screw aside carefully so that you can use it later. Then, carefully remove the back panel of the key fob.
Separate the Two Pieces of Plastic at the Indentation
You will now need to look for an indentation on the side of the key fob. Here, you can use a coin or a flat-head screwdriver to carefully separate the two pieces of plastic.
Remove and Replace the Battery
You should now be able to see the battery. It will be flat and fairly small, perhaps smaller than the size of a nickel.
If you do not see it, you may need to remove a battery cover. The cover will be a circular piece of plastic that you should be able to either lift off or use a flat head screwdriver to carefully remove.
To replace the battery you will need to remove the old one and insert a new one. Before taking out the old battery, look and see which side is facing up. You will need to make sure that the new battery is facing the same direction.
Key fobs generally use CR2025 or CR203 batteries, which watches often use as well. You can find these batteries at any hardware store and larger superstores will probably also have them.
Put It Back Together and Test It
Once you have replaced the battery, you need to put your fob back together. Snap the two pieces of plastic back together and screw on the back cover.
Test it with your car and fingers crossed, it works!
If you’re still having problems or you’d like a professional to replace the battery for you, get in touch and we’ll be happy to take care of it for you.
Keep the Key Fob Close to the Push Ignition
Some key fobs are finicky and need to be close to the push button to turn the car on. Try pushing the button itself with the key fob. If the car turns on, you should be able to move your keys back to your bag, pocket, or cupholder to keep the car going.
Check It for Broken Internal Pieces
Key fobs are subjected to a lot of abuse, especially for an electronic. We carefully cradle our phones and laptops, but our car keys tend to get thrown around and frequently beat up.
You could have an internal issue with your key fob. Open your key fob using the steps listed above, but this time, don’t remove the battery just yet.
If you see any loose wires or hardware that is moving around, there is probably something broken in your key fob.
If you don’t see anything like this, remove the battery and check underneath (make sure to put the battery back the same way you took it out!). If there’s nothing wrong underneath the battery, take your key fob to a professional to see if they can find the issue.
If there are loose wires, those with the proper skills might be able to solder the wires back into place. Keep in mind that if you do this yourself, you run the risk of ruining the key fob and needing the entire thing replaced.
If the physical key on your key fob is broken, be sure to get this fixed as soon as possible! Although you probably use it very infrequently if ever, getting your physical key fixed could save you time and money later on if the electronic part of your key fob ever stops working.
If nothing seems to be working, reprogramming your key fob might be the answer. To work properly, your key fob needs to be digitally linked with your car so that the two can communicate.
To reprogram your key fob, follow these steps:
- Enter your car and make that all of your doors are closed
- Turn your car on with your physical key and press the lock button on your key fob. Then, turn your car off with the physical key.
- Repeat step two, three more times, but during the third time, leave your car in the on position.
- You should now hear the locks sound. This means that you’ve entered programming mode. Immediately press the lock button on your remote. The locks should cycle again to indicate a successful reprogramming.
- If you have additional key fobs that need reprogramming, you should press the lock button within 10 seconds of each successful remote programming.
If this doesn’t work, you may need to try it again but do not physically turn the engine on, simply turn it far enough to be in the run position. This is what you might do if you wanted to sit in your car and listen to the radio without having the engine running.
If you’re still not having any luck with your key fob, take it to a professional for further assistance.
Make Sure That You’re Using the Push Putting Correctly
You might simply be having problems using the push button.
To operate the push button (the button that starts your engine) you need to make sure that your foot is fully pushed down on the brake and that your car is in the park. Once these needs are met, you should be able to push down completely on the button and the car should turn on.
If the car is only turning on some features, such as the radio, but not the engine, you probably need to push down on the button harder and press for slightly longer.
Is the Problem the Fob or the Car?
If you’ve tried just about everything and the key fob still isn’t working, you may have an issue with your car.
Test your theory and get your key fob professionally looked at before taking your car to the shop.
If the physical key in your fob still starts your car, there could either be a problem with the fob or a digital communication error between your car and the fob.
Take your key to a professional automotive locksmith who can help you determine if the problem is your key fob or your car.
If You Lost Your Key Fob
Losing a key fob is expensive. You should expect to pay upwards of $200 at your car’s dealership for a replacement because the physical key that comes with the fob will need to be recut and the hardware of the electronic key will need to be reprogrammed.
If you still have a second one, a copy can be made from that. However, if you’ve lost both keys, you should expect to pay upwards of $600 at a dealership. This is because not only will new keys need to be recut but the hardware in your car will have to be completely reprogrammed to match with two new electronic keys.
Give us a call today to get help replacing a key fob.
Lower Cost Options
If your car is 10 or more years old, you might be able to pay less for a key fob replacement. These less advanced fobs are simpler to reprogram and therefore are more cost-effective although they do offer less security than the newer versions.
Go With the Locksmith Over the Dealer
Getting assistance from a local locksmith will be drastically less expensive than a local dealer. Not only will you receive faster and more efficient service from a local locksmith, but you’ll actually pay a more reasonable price. A Consumer Reports writer states that for a new fob they paid $80 versus the $200+ that the dealer would have charged.
Get Professional Help Today
Cars can already be confusing and then when you add in technology when one thing goes wrong, it all seems to spiral.
Whether you’ve spent hours trying these techniques or are ready for professional help now, we are here for you. Here at Pros on Call, we are available 24/7 for all of your locksmithing needs. With a 30 minute response time (at most), we’ll have you up and running in no time.
The best part? You’ll actually pay the price that we tell you on the phone. No hidden fees, not express charges, just the price you agreed upon.
From key fob replacement to, roadside assistance and security system help, Pros on Call is here for you! Get assistance today.