Are you having trouble using a vehicle because of a spotty door opener? Key fobs that don't permit entry can be a major hassle for drivers, but fortunately, there are some DIY fixes that don't require an ounce of dealership assistance. Before bringing a vehicle or its key into the shop for a service call, try these top five remote repair tips.
1. Confirm That the Problem Lies With the Remote
Attempt to open and lock the car doors using a backup remote. If this succeeds, then it's a safe bet that the problem is associated with the first key.
If the second remote doesn't work, try opening the door with the valet key. This simple check often saves drivers a lot of wasted effort by pinpointing issues related to faulty locking mechanisms. When door lock switches and motors burn out, they can prevent the car from opening regardless of whether the remote is broadcasting properly or not.
Don't lose hope if the problem doesn't have anything to do with the remote or key. Drivers with a bit of basic electronics experience are often able to replace their locking mechanisms and the associated fuses on their own, and some keyless entry kits even include locks.
2. Try a New Battery
After confirming that a remote is faulty, try replacing its battery. Most remotes incorporate screws or tabs that permit users to pry them open; those with attached keys may also require the removal of the metal key. After accessing the inner compartment of the remote, remove the old button-style battery and insert a new one.
When replacing a key fob battery, respect the proper orientation of the cell; look at the polarity markings on the old cell if it's unclear how the new one should rest. Most car remotes use CR2032 or CR2025 batteries. Although many of these cells are visually similar, they're not equivalent, so be sure to use the proper replacement.
3. Reattach the Buttons
If the buttons on a keyless remote feel wiggly or they don't make their usual click when pressed, they may have detached from the circuit board. Such problems can be confirmed easily by opening the remote and examining the electronic components; the metal housings of the tactile push button switches should be mounted evenly and resist wiggling when prodded. If the buttons look crooked or some of their feet have lifted away from the circuit board, they must be reattached.
To fix the problem, grab a soldering iron and some tweezers. Apply a tiny amount of solder to the iron, and use the tip to heat each leg of the push button in turn while gently maneuvering the contacts back through their holes. If the circuit board is too small to solder steadily, use a third hand or similar tool to hold it in place.
Remember not to add too much solder; large globs could short out connections on these tiny circuit boards. Remove any excess with a solder wick, and secure the board before closing the remote.
4. Reprogram the Remote
Remotes may lose their memory from time to time; this problem becomes especially common with faulty batteries. Enter the vehicle, close the doors, and reprogram the remote by inserting the key in the ignition.
Don't start the engine. Simply flip the key back and forth between the first and second settings rapidly until the car emits an audible chime. This may sound like the door ajar signal. Press one of the remote buttons to confirm the programming operation, and then wait for a second chime. Finally, remove the keys from the ignition and exit the vehicle before closing and locking the doors. After about 20 seconds, the remote should work.
This generic procedure only works with some vehicles. If using a universal keyless entry device, consult the instructions that came with the remote. Also, remember to check the driver's manual for reprogramming instructions.
5. Upgrade the Remote or Key
If none of these strategies succeeds, try a new remote. Remotes are inexpensive enough that they often cost less than taking the car to the shop, and upgrading may be more convenient. If the key has sustained physical damage or otherwise fails, purchase a blank to have a new copy made from a key that still works.
Finding Keyless Remotes on eBay
Visit the keyless entry remote page on eBay to see multiple listings for keyless remotes and similar locking devices. Investigate complete packages by clicking on categories like keyless entry system, or visit one of the branded categories to find devices for a vehicle from Honda, Ford, or any other automaker. Shoppers can use search terms like "Jeep Wrangler keyless remote," to find listings that will work with specific vehicles.