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What Do You Do When Your Car Remote Doesn't Work?

Tech - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 1/6/2022

Person clicking a key fob behind a white vehicle

An increasing number of modern vehicles rely on remotes in order to perform key functions such as locking and unlocking doors and turning over the engine. Unfortunately, your car remote can break down just like any other part of your vehicle. So, what do you do when your car remote stops working? Can you still operate your car? Where do you go to get a replacement key fob? Keep reading for answers to these and other car remote questions.

Why Won’t My Key Fob Start My Car?

If you’re having issues unlocking doors or starting up your vehicle, there are a number of potential causes. The most common fob-related issue is a dead battery. Car key batteries vary in lifespan. Basic remotes like those used in older vehicles can last a really long time, on average of three to four years. As vehicle technology has continued to advance, so have car keys. Smart Keys don’t last nearly as long as old school fobs. If you leave your fob in the car, it will continue to draw from the fob battery, reducing its lifespan. Some Smart Keys need to be replaced roughly once a year.

How do you know if your key fob needs a new battery? One of the most telling signs is a reduced signal strength. Modern fobs typically have a signal range of up to 50 feet. Once your battery starts to go, you’ll likely notice a reduction in both the range and signal strength of your fob. If you find yourself having to push buttons two and three times in order to unlock a door, that’s another good sign that you need to replace the battery in your fob. Some newer vehicles will even warn you when your battery is getting.

Where Can I Get a Key Fob Battery Replaced?

Batteries Plus replaces batteries in a wide range of remotes, fobs and FOBIKs. Car key fob batteries come in several different formats, each designated by a format number. The most common battery types are CR2025 and CR2032. You can typically find this number written on the battery itself or listed in your vehicle owner’s manual. Shop our selection of key fob batteries online and be sure to take advantage of our key fob battery replacement service. We offer a one-time battery replacement service, but your best bet is to be proactive and purchase our lifetime fob battery option so your next battery replacement is as easy as stopping by your local store.

Can You Drive a Car with a Dead Key Fob?

Knowing where to get a new battery is great in the long run, but it doesn’t help you much if you can’t operate your car in order to pick one up. If you’re having a hard time unlocking the door, try holding your fob against the driver’s side door handle. There may still be enough power left in the battery to unlock your door at a close distance.

When it comes to starting your car, most vehicles are designed to work with non functioning remotes, it’s simply a matter of finding out which method your make and model vehicle supports. Some remotes have a backup key built into the fob itself that you can use to start the engine. If your vehicle works via a start button with no physical key slot, try using the key fob itself to push the start button. A number of vehicle brands have backup systems that allow this to work even when the key fob battery is dead. Still other manufacturers such as Ford have a pocket inside the center console or a slot on the steering column where you can insert the fob itself in order to start the engine. Refer to your owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website for more information.

Can Key Fobs Break?

A dying battery isn’t the only cause of a malfunctioning car remote; there are also a number of things that can go wrong with the remote itself. Over time, your remote’s battery terminal contacts can become misaligned or worn out. It’s also possible for the buttons to slip out of alignment. The remote’s outer shell can also become cracked, which can cause a misaligned battery connection. If you experience any of these issues, your best bet is to replace the remote entirely.

Who Programs Key Fobs?

Batteries Plus offers fast, affordable key fob programming service. Simply select your brand and model vehicle online, then pick up your replacement remote at your nearest location. Or, stop in when it’s convenient for you. You don’t even have to make an appointment! Not all locations offer key fob programming services, so check with your nearest store for more information.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Key Fob Programmed?

On average, our customers end up saving up to 50% off what dealerships charge for a new key fob. Our staff can also have your new car remote ready for you in about an hour instead of waiting weeks like you would at the dealership. Plus, all of our key fob services are covered by a six-month warranty. Need a spare vehicle key while you’re in our store? Many of our locations also offer key cutting services too.

Shop Batteries Plus for Your Automotive Essentials

Are you having issues with the battery in your car or truck? Why not bring it in for a free battery test? Our stores also carry a selection of top-quality auto batteries from brands like Duracell Ultra and X2Power, plus we’ll even install your new battery for free (available on most vehicles at most of our locations). Need a battery charger, headlight bulb or a spare auto fuse? You can find all that and more in our Automotive Center.

Read our blog for useful information on a variety of related topics. Learn how to adjust and align your headlights or how to keep your car battery warm in the winter.