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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

4 Reasons Your Car Key Button Is Not Working

by Wesley April 6, 2022

Cars are one of the most valuable assets people own. But this value is tied to reliability. If you treat your vehicle right, it should start every time you need it, no matter the weather conditions or how many road trips you embark upon. A car with the right working technology and equipment is something you depend on to get you wherever you want to go.

However, there are times when your vehicle’s technology and equipment fail for reasons beyond your control, like your car key button not working. It can be an extremely frustrating scenario, walking out to your car in the morning and suddenly realizing the car key button is not working. What causes this inconvenience? Is there a quick fix?

In this article, we will discuss the possible reasons why your car key button is not working and provide you with the best solutions. You will also learn there are qualified professionals ready to offer their assistance so that you are not left with correcting these mistakes yourself. We have summarized the four most likely reasons why your car key button is not working:

  1. Dead Batteries
  2. Defective Key Fob
  3. Broken Car Door Lock
  4. Other Electrical Issues

Before we get into the four reasons why your car key button is not working, there are a few technical things you should know about your vehicle and its equipment. Knowing some specific terminology and background information will help us better diagnose potential problems. 


What are the working parts of a key fob?

A large percentage of people drive cars that use a key fob. We have all seen or used these key fobs that control car locks electronically without having to physically insert a key into the car door. The parts of your key fob may vary based on the make and model, but most are comprised of four different parts:

  1. Shell/Housing: hard plastic exterior 
  2. Buttons: rubber padded lock, unlock, open trunk, alarm, etc. buttons
  3. Electronics: green circuit board controlling the key fob’s functions
  4. Battery: supplies power to the circuit board 

These four parts work in unison to lock your car doors, pop open the trunk, set off the emergency alarm, and carry out the other various functions of the key fob. When your car key button is not working, it could be because one of these parts is malfunctioning.

Certain problems can be fixed within a few minutes on your own, while more deep-rooted issues may require the help of a professional auto locksmith. We will be going over specific situations and solutions throughout the rest of this article for when your car key button is not working.  

Does cold weather make my car key button not work?

In general, people living in colder climates believe they experience more problems with their cars during the winter months. Although some of your car’s functions may be inhibited by sudden temperature changes, your car key button not working properly is not solely predicated on the weather.

Cold temperatures can make the battery less effective, especially if the battery is smaller, but overall, your car key buttons should work. Unless you store your keys outside or leave them in a garage that does not have heat, the cold will have little impact on your car key button not working. Always keep your keys inside to maximize the longevity of your key fob battery.

How long does it take to reprogram a car key button not working?

Sometimes the only solution to a broken car key button is to try and reprogram the entire key fob. This acts as a reset and allows the key fob to connect back to the car’s central onboard computer. More tech-savvy individuals with industry experience might be able to find a way to do this on their own, but most people will need the help of a professional.

Programming a key fob will take different amounts of time, which are based on the specific programming method required. Methods that do not require access to the onboard diagnostics port can be shorter. The process usually takes anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.

Further servicing, like deprogramming or key cutting may take longer. Procedures that require panel removal into the car’s inner paneling can also take longer. That is why if you are hiring outside help, you must find a locksmith that can service your vehicle at an elevated pace without sacrificing quality.

How much does it cost to replace a car key fob?

When reprogramming the key fob fails to fix the problem, it is time for a full replacement. Before you go on thinking this is going to cost a fortune, you should know auto locksmiths offer a fair price for key fob replacement.

A locksmith prices are between $90 to $120 for a key fob replacement, which is merely a fraction of the cost that most car dealerships can charge for the same service.

1. Dead Batteries

With a car key button not working, the easiest and cheapest solution is to change the batteries. This may not solve the issue, but it is worth trying as a troubleshooting measure to figure out what the actual problem is. Quite often, dead batteries are the reason for a car key button not working.

Changing the batteries in your key fob is simple. All you need to do is take the shell apart, look at the battery and find the part number. Take a picture or write that number down and go to an auto parts store for a replacement. Major auto parts retailers should have a matching battery in their inventory, as will most auto locksmiths.

When you change the batteries in your key fob, the problem may not be fixed completely. There is a good chance the device will need to be reset or reprogrammed to the car. Reprogramming is not the same as fixing your car key button not working, which we will get into more details about later.

For now, just be aware that the battery replacement is only the first step in the process. The key fob not working after a battery replacement does not necessarily mean your key fob is broken either. Other factors are the likely culprit that will need to be addressed before deciding to replace your key fob.

2. Damaged Key Fob

The dead batteries inside the key fob are only part of what could be the cause of a car key button not working. Gradual wear and tear from continual usage of the key fob itself may be the real issue. Worn buttons are a common sign of overuse. After a certain amount of years, a car key button not working is normal.

Deteriorating buttons on a remote may be why a key fob is not working after a battery change. Buttons on the key fob use contacts that send signals to a circuit board when the button is pressed. The contacts can wear down, or the buttons can wear down and stop the contacts from touching.

The most obvious sign of a worn button is when the plastic has fallen apart and the contact is exposed. In some instances, not all of the car key buttons are not working. Maybe the key fob will not unlock doors, but the lock button still works. That means you might have a worn unlock button causing the problem.

There is also the possibility the car key buttons not working is a result of how you are pressing the buttons. Damaged buttons can get finicky and may only work properly if you push them a certain way. To visualize this, think of the buttons on the remote to your TV. The most used buttons can sometimes get stuck, or you have to push them with more force than the others.

A useful method of discovering the problem with your car key button not working is to test a spare remote. Seeing if two key fobs have the same problem can be an indicator that it is not a worn button or contact issue.

But as this generation’s cars continue to progress with technological advancements, almost all keyless ignition fobs will require complex solutions and equipment to fix the problem. With a modern car key button not working, you may run into problems reprogramming your existing fob due to modern security measures.

Key fobs for newer vehicles use various signal encryption methods to keep criminals from capturing the car key signals and making unauthorized fobs. This requires the use of proprietary equipment restricted to locksmiths and dealerships exclusively.

3. Broken Car Door Lock

Sometimes the cause of your car key button not working has nothing to do with the key fob. The buttons can be in perfect working condition along with a fully charged battery, yet the car doors will not unlock. This could mean the problem is with the car door locks themselves.

An issue with the car door lock sounds a lot more complicated than the car key button not working, but it depends on who you ask. To the novice car owner with limited knowledge of a vehicle’s internal mechanisms and hardware, it can be daunting. But trained auto locksmiths see this kind of thing every day and know how to remedy the situation.

Sometimes the problem is severe enough to the point where the door needs to be disassembled, or maybe the entire car door lock needs to be rekeyed. The removal of door lock assemblies and door lock cylinders can be tricky.

It is possible to lower the cost of labor by doing the work yourself, but that could lead to more issues in the future if the door is not repaired properly. An auto locksmith can give a proper diagnosis so that you can get access to replacement parts faster and have your door locks working in no time.

4. Other Electrical Issues

A more serious problem with your car could be prevailing over any of the procedures discussed up to this point. The real issue of your car key button not working could be a result of extensive damage to the vehicle’s electrical system.

Perhaps even residual effects from you trying to repair the damages yourself. If reprogramming the key fob, repairing the car door lock, or replacing the dead batteries is necessary, you need to make sure these tasks are all done correctly to prevent additional electrical issues.

For example, disassembling the car door presents challenges with exposed parts and wires that control other functions of your car. They can be damaged or disconnected unknowingly during service or when the panels are being put back on.

Other electrical failures that may follow your car key buttons not working include a defective car horn, lights not turning on, and window malfunctions. The more of this process you handle yourself, the more likely it is to make a crucial mistake.

Call An Auto Locksmith 

In almost every case of a car key button not working, a locksmith will be your best option for finding a fix. Locksmiths provide mobile service directly to their customers with a replacement key fob in their possession that can be reprogrammed in minutes.

A locksmith can open your car if the unlock button is not working. That means instant access to your car so they can immediately diagnose the problem and get started on fixing it. There is no waiting around for a tow truck to haul your vehicle into a shop, and there is no waiting around for parts to be delivered.unlock your car

After a thorough inspection, maybe you will need a new car key. Auto locksmiths are fully equipped to replace your fob at an affordable price and with expert precision. Having a locksmith handle your car key button not working will ensure these problems are taken care of for long-term use.

Category: Automotive, Car Keys

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