A faulty key fob is an inconvenience that can throw off your whole schedule. While it may seem far-fetched to think of your fob as needing regular maintenance, your key fob is not something to overlook because when it fails it can stop you from being able to enter your vehicle at all, let alone start the engine. If you find your key is broken, the first step is to identify the problem and whether it is easier to fix it or to replace the key fob entirely. There can be a couple of ways to go about this. Below you will find several tips for dealing with a non-functioning key fob.


Why Key Fobs Stop Working

While it can be a frustrating situation, it is to be expected that any key fob will have issues at some time or another. Luckily, the problems you experience with them can often be simple, so if you find your key fob not working there are some possibilities you should consider right off the bat.

The most common culprit behind an electric key fob's failure is, as you might guess, the battery. This is a relatively easy issue to fix, although you may need to get a ride to get to buy a replacement fob battery. Since it is such a common problem, it can be a great idea to keep spare batteries or even a backup key fob on hand somewhere in your home or in a purse or backpack that you travel with frequently.

While a dead key fob battery should be the first thing to check, there can also be other issues that come up with key fobs that may require more work to fix. If you determine that you have a more complicated issue going on you will need to decide whether it is something worth fixing or if a replacement is a better option.

You should also consider that the problem may be with your car itself and not your key fob. You may want to examine the possibility that your car battery has died, which can cause similar issues. Using a spare key fob can be the best way to test whether the problem lies in the key or in the vehicle. In some rarer cases, there may be an issue with the locks on your car doors, like maybe the actuator. While less likely, this is still something to keep in mind if after fixing your key or getting a new one your remote key still won't unlock car door.


Replacing or Repairing Your Key Fob

If changing the battery doesn't do anything to remedy the problem, there are some other steps you can take. One thing to try can be taking the key fob apart and carefully checking to make sure that none of the buttons seem to be out of place or broken. As your key fob likely gets heavy use and spends a lot of time getting jostled around, buttons can be broken or stuck and adjusting them may be all you need to do in order to get your fob working again. You may also take the remote to be professionally examined. It may be that the key needs to be reprogrammed or requires some other form of adjustment.

While you may be able to fix a broken fob, sometimes it is simply easier to replace it. Depending on the make and model of your car, a new fob can cost as low as around $50, though they may be more expensive in some cases and can end up costing you a fair amount. While the cost of replacements can be unfortunate, sometimes it is the best and safest option. You don't want to overly rely on a glitchy key and risk getting stranded somewhere.


What to Do in a Pinch

If you find yourself stuck somewhere away from home without being able to start your car, the situation can be stressful at best and frightening at worst. While it is never fun to be caught off guard by a key malfunction, it can be vital that you stay calm and consider your options. Even if you normally use the button to unlock your car, there is often a physical key stored within the fob. At the very least you should be able to use this to get into your vehicle, even if it won't work for starting your car (though it can start certain cars).

If you have a vehicle that uses a push-to-start button ignition rather than a turn-key ignition, a key that is not necessarily dead but has a low battery may not be recognized by the vehicle from a distance. You may want to try holding the key right up to the button and attempting to start the car again. Some push-button ignition systems may also have a place to insert the physical key and allow you to start the vehicle, generally between the steering wheel and the infotainment system. These quick fixes can occasionally work in a pinch and allow you to get back home or go to AutoZone to buy a replacement battery or key fob.

Being Prepared for Key Fob Issues

While it is an inconvenient addition to your day, the unfortunate truth can be that no matter how well cared for your key fob is, it may fail at some point or another. Luckily, key fob issues are generally not serious or complicated and can often come down to a simple matter of changing out the battery. More serious issues may be present if you discover you are still having problems after fixing or replacing your key fob. This can indicate that something else is wrong with your vehicle itself, but this is rare. One of the best ways to prepare yourself and keep key fob issues from catching you off guard can be to have a spare key available. Look into buying a replacement key fob or key fob batteries today.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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