Unlock car with dead key fob

Dead Key Fob? You Can Still Unlock and Start Your Car

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Unlock car with dead key fob

If you’ve just found yourself locked out of your car with a dead key fob, we may be able to get you going.

Remote key fobs are great until they fail. When they do, you may not be able to enter the car. Then, if you get inside, getting the car started can be foiled by a dead START button. We’ve got loads of solutions here, so find the one that most closely fits your scenario:

Swap the Battery

If your remote key fob has given up the ghost in the parking lot of a shopping center, you may be in luck. The battery may have failed, and getting it to work again might be as easy as replacing it.

To access the battery, you’ll have to open the fob. Typically, you have to use a coin or a small screwdriver to pry the battery cover open. The battery will look like a silver button. Look for the numbers on the battery and match those to a replacement battery.

Unlock the Door Remotely

Many manufacturers have remote door unlock services that can get you inside the car if your key fob is disabled, or if you’ve locked your keys inside. If your car doesn’t have an advanced remote unlocking system, roadside assistance can still get you inside. All of these services require that you have set them up ahead of time, and generally require a PIN. Here’s how to access those services:

Audi

Using the Audi MMI connect App, Audi owners can utilize remote unlocking services if the key fob is dead, or if the key is inside the car. You can learn more about the app and sign up at Audi’s website.

Acura

Vehicles equipped with AcuraLink can receive a remote unlock signal to get into the car if the key fob is dead. The service is available through the app, or via PC. Learn more at Acura’s website.

Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, RAM

FCA vehicles equipped with Uconnect are eligible for remote unlocking services if you’re currently a Uconnect subscriber. For more information on the program, visit the Uconnect website.

BMW

BMW offers remote unlocking services via its Connected Drive program. For more information on BMW, visit the Connected Drive website.

Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC

Since the 2014 model year, the General Motors brands have made OnStar RemoteLink Mobile App services standard for five years, even if you’ve declined to pay for other OnStar services beyond the trial period. If your key fob is dead and you haven’t downloaded the OnStar app, go ahead and do it and get in touch with an OnStar operator to see if they can unlock your door remotely. You can also contact OnStar on the phone at (888) 466-7827.

Ford, Lincoln, Ford Trucks

Vehicles equipped with Sync Connect — 2016 model year forward — can remotely unlock their vehicles using the Sync Connect app. Owners need to enable SYNC Connect through a two-step authentication process to protect personal information, confirming setup on the vehicle touch screen and on the mobile application. Information on the service is available at Ford’s website.

Honda

Honda doesn’t have a satellite-based unlocking service, but its roadside assistance program will send a technician out if your key is lost, locked inside or broken. For more information, visit Honda’s roadside assistance program website.

Hyundai

Hyundai’s BlueLink services include a remote unlocking feature if your key fob is dead. You can access services from the app, a PC or by phone. For more info, visit Hyundai BlueLink.

Nissan, Infiniti

Nissan Connect allows owners to unlock their cars remotely via the app or the web portal. For more information, visit Nissan Connect. Infiniti vehicles have a similar service through Infiniti InTouch. Find out more at the Infiniti InTouch website.

Jaguar, Land Rover

Jaguar’s InControl Remote & Protect services include remote unlocking if the key fob is lost or damaged. Visit Jaguar’s website to learn more.

Land Rover offers the same program. Visit the Land Rover website for more information.

Kia

Kia vehicles equipped with the UVO system have remote unlocking services as part of the program. You can learn more about how to access the services at the MyUVO website.

Lexus

The Lexus Enform telematics system features remote unlocking services. You can learn more about the program at Lexus Enform’s website.

Mazda

Mazda doesn’t offer remote unlocking services on all its vehicles, or even all of its vehicles within a certain model. Mazda Mobile Start (which, as the name implies, also allows you to start the car remotely) can unlock the doors on 2016 and forward Mazda6 and Mazda CX-5 models with an automatic transmission. It does require installation, though, so unless you bought the option, it won’t help you in an emergency. The rest of you should contact Mazda’s Roadside Assistance program for lockout services.

Mercedes-Benz

Vehicles equipped with Mercedes-Benz’s mbrace service can request unlock services via the mbrace app, computer or by calling the mbrace Response Center. Information on how to execute an unlock is contained in this .pdf at Mercedes-Benz’s website.

MINI

Mini doesn’t have remote unlocking services, but if your remote is dead, you can still get inside the car through the roadside assistance program. You can also hail Roadside Assistance using the app.

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi doesn’t offer remote unlocking, but its lengthy free roadside assistance program can get you into a car with a dead fob. Learn more at the Mitsubishi Roadside Assistance program.

Porsche

Porsche owners can unlock their vehicles with a bad key fob using the Porsche Car Connect program, at $119 per year. For more info, visit the Porsche Car Connect website.

Subaru

Subaru owners with a malfunctioning key fob may be able to unlock the car remotely if they’ve subscribed to StarLink. For more information on the program, visit the StarLink website.

Toyota

At the moment, Toyota vehicles don’t have satellite-based remote unlocking services, but within the period of Toyota’s roadside assistance program, you can get inside with the help of an actual human. Visit ToyotaCare for more information.

Volvo

Volvo On Call provides remote unlocking services when the keys are lost, inside the car or the fob is damaged. Visit the Volvo On Call website for more information.

Volkswagen

Vehicles equipped with Volkswagen’s Car-Net service can have their VW unlocked remotely, as long as they’re signed up and a have a cell signal. More information is available at VW’s Car-Net website.

Unlock the Door Manually

If you don’t have one of the services described above, you can still try calling Roadside Assistance. The number is typically posted on the side windows, and in the owner’s manual.

Barring that, try holding your dead fob up against the driver’s door handle and pulling.  Sometimes there’s just enough juice in the battery to unlock it at a close distance.

If that fails, look closely at the fob.  If it has a leather jacket on it, remove it.  Almost all automakers hide a small mechanical key inside the fob.  There is usually a small catch that allows the spare key to pop out.  If you can expose the little mechanical key, you can then insert it into the lock opening in the driver’s door, and you’re in.

How To Start a Car With a Dead Key Fob

Once you’re inside, getting the car started is actually pretty easy. Automakers know that your keyless ignition may need to work if the fob dies, and the system has been designed to work even with a non-functioning remote. Some cars are equipped with a means of starting the car manually, and some have a backup built into the key fob that work without a key.

Even if your car has keyless entry, you may not have noticed that there’s actually a key slot somewhere on the steering column. The key is hidden in the remote as we described at the top of this article.

If your keyless ignition still requires you to actually turn a switch, there may be a key slot hidden under the switch. Mazda vehicles, for example, are equipped this way. The “switch” you turn is actually a plastic cap that pops off, revealing a key slot underneath.

If your keyless entry works with a START button and there’s no mechanical key slot, there’s still a way to start the car. Use the key fob to push the START button. Some manufacturers have a backup system that allows this method to work if the key fob battery is dead.

Looking for a new or used car? Try BestRide’s search to find one near you.

 

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John Goreham

John Goreham

7 comments

  1. thank you! Came back from a day in the city to my key not working. I panic until I found your information which allowed me to start my vehicle!

  2. These instructions helped us 100% and saved us TONs of $$$!
    Thank you so very Much!
    The Brown’s

  3. 2014 Versa Note has no key slot!

    1. My 2014 Versa Note would not start tonight. There is a key but no slot to put it in. Finally, a friend found the answer in the manual. Hold the key fob close to the start button while putting foot on the brake. It finally started after 3-4 tries. My 2008 Versa had a slot to put the key in.

  4. i have a chrysler 2015 200 and locked the door manually when i got out when i came out the door would not unlock i had to use the key to get in This set off horn and lights, and wouldnt let me start the car it said key fob not detected, i had two of them in my hand. batteries are not dead. what can i do?

  5. Ford product will allow you to use codes to unlock the car. If they are closed, you can search your owner’s manual on smart phone. You can open the fob to open up the key.

  6. Went swimming for about an hour in the ocean about 10 years ago with my Ford fob; didn’t realize until I returned to the car park that the keys (and fob) had been in my pocket all that time. Fob worked perfectly and never missed a beat to the day I sold the car. Guess they have to be waterproof to survive the washing machine occasionally but I’ve never put another fob to the test since, or before, that day.

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