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What To Do When Your Key Fob Is Not Working

BY: Alex Perrone
car key fob in hand

Walking out to your car and finding out your key fob is no longer working can put a damper on your dayespecially during harsh weather conditions. Your vehicle’s key fob makes it easy for you to lock, unlock, and start your vehicle from a distance, but like other components, is prone to not work at some point. 

There are tons of reasons your key fob stopped working, one of them being a dead battery, but our experts suggest checking yourself before ordering a replacement. Today, we are going to look at how to troubleshoot your key fob when it is not working.

What Is A Key Fob?

Key fobs were invented in the 1980s but became standard on most vehicles in the 1990s. Key fobs make it easy for you to control the safety features of your vehicle from a distance without having to travel to your vehicle to lock or unlock your car.

On more modern vehicles, key fobs allow you to start your vehicle at the push of a button. This is a great feature to have when the temperatures start to get extremely high or extremely low as you can get your vehicle to a comfortable temperature before getting into your car.

Why Do Key Fobs Stop Working?


Key fobs are powered by small batteries that usually last around 3-4 years. Depending on what conditions the key fob was kept in, this time can be shortened or extended. Most key fobs are going to stop working due to a dead battery, which is the cheapest and easiest fix. Most key fob batteries can be replaced at home with a few common hand tools. You can find a Youtube tutorial or a how-to article that will walk you through the steps of how to change the battery in key fobs for specific vehicles. If you do not feel comfortable doing the battery replacement yourself, you can seek out the help of a professional or go to your local dealership.


Damage is a popular reason for key fobs to stop working. Dropping your keys is a very common occurrence and over time, this can damage the key fob. Damaged key fobs can start to malfunction in many different ways to the point of them not working at all. In these instances, you are going to be better off replacing the key fob. Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to find a cheap aftermarket key fob, but for best performance, we suggest visiting a dealership for the correct key fob. They will also be able to program the key fob as well for you.

Old Age

Lastly, some key fobs are going to quit working simply due to old age. Over the years, dirt and grime can get into your key fob causing the electronics to fail. Sometimes, the electronics simply fail on their own causing your key fob to stop working. If you have replaced the battery and you are still experiencing your key fob not working, this is most likely the case and you will need a key fob replacement.

Tips For Trying To Get Your Key Fob To Work

Depending on the issue, your key fob can be troubleshot by following these simple tricks. 

Remove & Reinstall Battery

If you know how to open up your key fob safely, then this trick is for you. If you find yourself in a situation where you believe your battery is dying, try to remove and reinstall your battery. While this is not a guaranteed fix, it is a quick and easy test to try to get your key fob working in a pinch.

Clean Your Key Fob

Cleaning your key fob can help to get a malfunctioning fob working again. If your buttons are not pressing down, you could have a build-up inside the button, preventing it from being fully depressed. Safely clean the key fob often to prevent dirt and grime from entering your key fob’s internal electrical boards. If you can open up your key fob, you can take it apart and safely clean it as well.

The Chin Trick

If you are trying to use your key fob but it will not reach, you can try the chin trick. Simply put the key fob up against your chin and press the button to try to get it to reach. This works by using your head as an antenna and can help extend the reach of your key fob’s range.

Should You Repair Or Replace Your Key Fob?

If your key fob has stopped working, you may be wondering if you should replace or repair it. Let’s break down the instances on when you should repair and when you should replace a key fob.

Key Fob Repair

  • Dirty Key Fob—If your key fob is not working properly and is visibly dirty, you should try cleaning it before replacing it for a quick and easy repair.
  • Dead Battery—If you suspect that your battery is dead on your key fob, you can simply replace the battery or have it replaced to get it working like new again.

Key Fob Replacement

  • Damaged—If your key fob is noticeably damaged and is not working correctly, you should go ahead and replace your key fob. Even if a battery can get it working again, it is only a matter of time before the damage becomes greater causing you to have to buy another key fob later down the road.
  • Battery Does Not Repair—If you have replaced the battery and cleaned the key fob and it still does not work, you have no choice but to replace it. Chances are, your key fob has died of old age if there is no visible damage.

Car Key Fob Reimbursement From Endurance

If you’ve done everything possible and still find your key fob not working, then the time has arrived to replace it. Normally, replacing key fobs can cost anywhere from $50 to $400 but with Endurance, we’ve got you covered! With your personalized protection plan from Endurance, we’ll cover up to $500 if you damage, destroy, or lose the key fob to your vehicle.

Join the nearly 1 million members already protecting their budgets and enjoying the peace of mind that comes with coverage from Endurance. Request a free, no-obligation quote below to get started today.


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