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Car Key Fob Not Working? 4 Next Steps 

Key fobs are extremely convenient—until they stop working. If you own a car that doesn’t use a physical key, you may run into issues starting or getting into your vehicle if your key fob dies. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take that may help you diagnose the problem so you can get back on the road. In this article, we’ll go over four steps to follow if your key fob dies and some answers to frequently asked questions about key fobs.

Step 1: Check Your Key Fob’s Battery

Fixing your key fob might be as simple as replacing the fob’s battery. Typically, key fob batteries last between three to four years. If your fob isn’t working and the battery is older than three or four years, you probably need to replace the battery.

If you don’t know what battery to use when replacing the old one, your car’s manual should have directions on what type of battery you need to order for your fob. Once you have your new battery, open your fob with a small screwdriver, take out the old battery, put the new one in, and test it out.

If your key fob starts working, you’re good to go! If it still isn’t working, move on to the next step. 

Step 2: Reprogram the Key Fob

If your key fob isn’t working after you replace the battery, the programming could be at fault. While the exact steps may vary by model, you can find a general overview of how to program a car key fob below:

  • Enter Programming Mode: Get into your car and close all the doors. Put your key into the ignition and turn it so it’s in the “On” position without starting the engine. Typically, a vehicle will signal that its programming mode is on by making a chime or causing the doors to lock and unlock. Some cars will require you to go between “On” and “Off” several times before the programming mode starts, so check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find out how many times you need to switch between the positions.
  • Press the Key Fob Button: With the vehicle in the “On” position and the programming mode started, press and hold the lock or unlock button on the fob for about 10 to 30 seconds. Your car may make a noise indicating that the fob has been programmed. 
  • Test the Fob: Test and see if your key fob is working. If it is, you’re all set!

Some vehicles require the fob to be programmed at the dealership or by a professional. If you own a vehicle with a fob you can’t program yourself, there isn’t really a workaround, and you’ll need to take it to a qualified professional.

Step 3: Check for Physical Damage

Like any piece of technology, key fobs can suffer from physical damage, which can break them. Give your fob a good once-over to make sure that there aren’t any cracks, the buttons are working, and it isn’t overly dirty. 

You can also open the key fob to inspect the circuit board if you’re comfortable doing so. Check for any signs of corrosion or visible damage on the circuits, as those can definitely cause problems. If your fob is damaged, you can see if it can be repaired at an auto shop, but you may need to replace it entirely.

Step 4: Seek Professional Help

If you still can’t get your fob to work, you should take it to your preferred auto shop. A technician can help you diagnose the problem and get your fob working again. If the mechanic can’t repair your key fob, the shop might be able to replace it for you.

Broken Key Fob FAQ

If you have additional questions about key fobs, review our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to key fobs below:

1. How to Start Car With Dead Key Fob? 

If your car uses a keyless fob to start, knowing how to start a car with a dead key fob is essential to ensure you can still drive your vehicle. Most cars with keyless technology will start if you hold the “dead” fob up to the ignition button and try again. There may also be a small key in the fob for situations like this! If your key fob has one of those, look at the manual to find where you put the key into.

2. How to Unlock Car With Key Fob Inside? 

If you’ve accidentally locked your car with the fob inside, you can try to get the door open with a hanger or similar tool. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, a locksmith or a roadside assistance provider should be able to get your car open for you in just a few minutes!

3. What Do I Do If I Got My Key Fob Wet?

If you dropped your key fob in water or got it wet, you can try to place it into a bag of rice to dry it out. Unfortunately, water will damage the chip inside the fob and may break it. Try drying the fob out for a bit in uncooked rice before you see if it works. If it’s still not functioning after drying it out, you may have to get a new fob. 

Key Fob Problems? Turn to Chapel Hill Tire

If you’re having issues with your key fob and you live in Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, or the surrounding areas, Chapel Hill Tire can help. Whether your vehicle uses a keyless fob system or a traditional key fob, our mechanics can diagnose and fix the problem so you can get back on the road. If your fob doesn’t end up being the issue, we can perform a diagnostic on your vehicle to get to the bottom of the problem and get your car fixed.

When you’re ready to bring your car in, please make an appointment at one of our convenient locations in the Triangle Area. You can also check out our promotions to find a great deal on our many services

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