Diagnose Your Dead Key Fob With These Troubleshooting Tips

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These days, keyless entry key fobs are de rigueur for the vast majority of modern automobiles. These small devices not only give your vehicle the convenience of push-button starting, but they also make it possible to lock and unlock doors without fiddling with a bunch of keys. So you can only imagine how much convenience you'll lose when your key fob suddenly stops working.

The following provides a few tips on how to effectively troubleshoot your dead key fob and hopefully bring it back to life.

Have a Backup? Try It Out First

The first thing you'll want to do is make sure the problem lies with the key fob itself. It's not unusual for a faulty lock switch or some other related issue to prevent your doors from working properly, no matter how well your key fob works. If you have a second key fob on hand, you should try to use that to open your door and start your engine.

Some vehicles may come with a feature that disables the key fob by turning off the transceiver within the vehicle. If your vehicle comes equipped with this feature, you should make sure that it hasn't been activated by accident.

Check the Battery

After ruling out mechanical failure and a disabled transceiver, your next focus should be on the key fob's battery. The vast majority of key fob issues are usually caused by a dead battery, especially after years of continuous use. If your key fob remains unresponsive, then you may need to swap out its original battery for a fresh one.

In order to gain access to the battery, you'll need to disassemble your key fob based on the instructions offered by the manufacturer. On some key fobs, the battery may be located in an external compartment that can be accessed by opening a simple door. On others, the entire key fob may need to be taken apart in order to reach the battery within the inner compartment.

A typical key fob will use a CR2032 or CR2025 button-style battery. Make sure you have the right battery before reassembling the key fob.

Check for Any Signs of Damage

Mistakes can happen, whether you accidentally drop your key fob, leave it in the wash with your favorite pants or spill coffee all over it. Unfortunately, all of these events could potentially damage the transponder chip located within the key fob. A damaged key fob may work erratically or even refuse to work at all, depending on the type and amount of damage it suffered.

If you've accidentally gotten your key fob wet, try drying it out by burying it within a container full of kitty litter or rice overnight. Both are capable of absorbing moisture, which should help dry out your key fob and bring it back to working condition.

If you dropped your key fob on a hard surface and it stops working afterward, you can carefully take it apart and check for any damage. Given the complex and somewhat fragile nature of the key fob's circuitry, you'll be better off getting a replacement key fob instead of attempting repairs.

Watch Out for Interference

Your key fob essentially relies on radio signals in order to work, so any type of interference can prevent it from working properly. You'll want to make sure there isn't any interference being caused by a nearby radio wave–emitting device such as a portable radio, remote control, or unshielded equipment.

Products such as aluminum foil can also block radio signals, preventing the key fob from transmitting signals to the receiver inside the vehicle. If you have your key fob wrapped in foil or stored inside of a container that serves as a Faraday cage, then you'll need to take it out before it'll start working properly.

Have It Reprogrammed

Every key fob must be specifically paired with its transceiver in order to work properly. This prevents multiple key fobs from being used to unlock the same vehicle. However, this programming can be lost for variety of reasons, usually after replacing your vehicle's battery or the battery inside your key fob.

You'll need to follow the steps provided by your vehicle's manufacturer in order to reprogram the key fob. In some cases, you may need to have your dealer reprogram the key fob using their specialized equipment.

For additional assistance, contact a locksmith who specializes in car remotes.