Most modern cars are made with key fobs instead of traditional keys. These key fobs allow you to unlock and start your car without the insertion of a physical key. But what happens when the battery in the key fob dies unexpectedly? Can you start your car without the key fob? It can be done, but figuring out how to start a car without a key fob is putting the cart before the horse. First, you’ll have to figure out how to get into your locked car without a working key fob.
What to do if your key fob battery is dead
If your key fob is not working, there are a few things you can do to troubleshoot the situation. First, it is possible that the battery may be dead. You should try to replace the battery to see if that is the issue. It should be noted that automotive key fobs do not take regular batteries, however. Most take a small, flat, round battery. To find out what kind of battery your specific key fob uses, you will need to open the back of your fob.
Use a small screwdriver to open the panel where the battery is. When you see the battery, there will be small numbers and letters on it. That is the type of battery you will need to purchase to replace. Now, these specialized batteries are not always found at any grocery or convenient store. You may have to go to an automotive supply store to find your specific battery if it is not easy to find. Also, you should be able to find most automotive key fob batteries online as well.
Once you find the correct battery, remove the old battery and put the new one in the same place. Replace the panel and use the screwdriver to tighten the screws so that the panel is flush with the back of the key fob. Make sure you are close to your vehicle, and press the unlock button to see if replacing the battery fixed the key fob. If yes, you can continue on to start the car normally and go about your day! If not, then there is a larger issue. It is worth noting that most automotive stores will provide this service for you. You just need to bring your dead key fob into the store; notify the store employee of the situation and they should be able to resolve the issue for you.
What to do if a dead battery is not the problem
If you follow the steps above to replace your key fob’s battery and it still does not open or start your car, then the problem is most likely with the electronics. If this is the case, the fob needs to be looked at professionally and you should take it to either the dealership or an automotive supply store. They will be able to tell you if it can be fixed or if you need to purchase a new fob altogether.
Regardless of the actual issue with your key fob, the problem is physically getting into your car while the fob is out of order. There are different options depending on the manufacturer of your car. Some dealerships offer remote unlocking services that you can sign up for when you purchase the vehicle. Also, if your car has OnStar or a similar service, you are able to call and have them unlock your car for you. Understandably, you will have to provide personal information to verify your identity before they will unlock your car for you.
Another option that is growing in popularity is a phone app for your car. This app can allow you to lock and unlock your car, open and close the trunk, set off the panic alarm, start and stop the car, check oil and gas levels, etc. Like OnStar, this app is a service that you have the option to sign up and pay for when you purchase your car. While the service and app may cost extra money, there are numerous helpful features that can get you out of a jam and keep you up to date on what your car needs.
For example, Mazda has a service called Mazda Mobile Start. This is a smartphone remote engine start system that you can elect to have installed into your vehicle. This service is an extra fee, but it allows you to download and use the Mazda App on your smartphone seamlessly with your car. This app has features that allow you to lock and unlock your car, start the engine, open and close the trunk, defrost your windshields, set off the panic alarm, or even locate your vehicle. While it can be expensive, these services can make or break your day, and can even get you out of a tough spot, saving you from being stranded.
Unlocking your car door with a dead key fob
If none of the above options are available for you, there is still hope! Take your dead key fob and place it directly on the handle of your car to try to unlock. Many times, there is enough left in the battery an at extremely close proximity to unlock the door one more time. If that does not work, look at your fob closely. Most manufacturers have a small compartment that holds an actual key to your vehicle. There is typically a small latch or door that you have to open or push in to release the key. Once you find this key, you can unlock your car door manually with the traditional key.
Starting your car with a dead key fob
Once you have successfully entered your car, now you need to start the ignition. Many modern vehicles have a safety in place so that you can start your car when your key fob battery has died. Sit in the driver’s seat of your vehicle with your key fob. Put your foot on the brake and hold the dead key fob on the push start button for your car. Literally place the key fob on the push start button and push the button with the key fob. Many vehicles have this safety feature to start the car in the event that your key fob’s battery has died.
Other car manufacturers have built in a small slot underneath the push start button. There may be a cover that you have to pop off to use the slot. This slot is made to hold the key fob in the event that it is dead. Simply insert the key fob into the slot, place your foot on the brake, and press the start button. This should start your car perfectly so that you can use your vehicle.
If either of these previous options do not work for you, there is one last thing you can attempt. The key that can be removed from your fob could also have the capability of starting your car. Look around the area of the start button on your car. There may be an actual keyhole nearby. If there is, you can insert the physical key in your key fob to start your car.
As you can see, there are a multitude of options for starting your car without a key fob. Some are more involved or more expensive than others, but you should be able to find one that will work for you. It is worth mentioning that all of these ideas are last resort ideas. They are not meant to be used frequently to open or start your vehicle. If you frequently find yourself in a position where you need to use these backup ideas, then you should consider purchasing the remote start service from your dealership or a spare key fob.