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Why Are Your Car Keys Not Working?

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 07/12/2023

There is hardly an inconvenience as annoying as when your car key is not starting the car, and you are left alone to ponder why it happened to you. Before you curse your luck, there is perhaps some solace in knowing that this can happen to the best of us.

Driving and car ownership have been revolutionised with the development of remote car key fobs that make it easier, quicker, and more convenient to access and fire up your vehicle.

However, like all technology, remote car keys are not immune to failures. So, knowing what to do when your car remote is not working can help you navigate through this inconvenient ordeal.

Car Keys Mechanism

To understand why your ​​central lock key is not working and to repair the car’s remote, one must know the components and the mechanism of their car keys:

Key Blade: To start the car physically, the key blade is inserted in the ignition switch or the door lock cylinder. The blade is typically made of metal and comprises grooves and ridges that match the locking mechanism of your car.

Key Fob: The key fob consists of a small battery and some electronic parts inside. The buttons on the keys transmit signals to the security system of the vehicle prompting actions such as unlocking doors or starting the car.

Types of Car Keys

To understand how to fix the problem when your car key is not working, you must first identify what kind of key you have. Then, you can check if the problem is that the car ignition is not turning on, if the car lock sensor is not working, or if it is a combination of the two.

Here are the types of car keys:

Traditional Mechanical Key: This is just a physical key (similar to the locks on your house) that engages your car door locks and works in conjunction with the ignition.

Transponder Key: Also known as a “chip key”, the transponder key consists of a transmitter that is embedded within the key and corresponds to the receiver installed inside the car.

For the ignition to work, the transmitter and the receiver have to exchange signals that verify the authenticity of the key.

Remote Keyless Entry (RKE) Key: RKE keys have different push buttons that each cause an action from the car.

The key uses radio frequency signals to communicate with your vehicle owing to the keyless entry remotes.

Smart Key (Proximity Key): A smart key employs proximity sensors that unlock the doors of the car automatically as you approach it. Individuals can also start the ignition via a button.

Reasons for Car Key Not Working and How to Fix It

Getting to the root of why your car key is not starting the car or unlocking the door depends on the kind of key you have:

Traditional Keys

There are several reasons why traditional keys may fail. Here are some general reasons with solutions:

Wear and Tear: Traditional keys can become ineffective after a certain time owing to wear and tear. When this happens, you will have to get a copy of the key from a reputed locksmith or dealership.

Problems in the Ignition Cylinder: There is also a possibility that the ignition cylinder is either broken or worn out, which could be why the car ignition is not turning on.

To check if this is the case, try to wiggle the key gently and see if it engages. If not, professional intervention may be required to repair the cylinder or get it replaced.

Key Failure: If they are not made from quality materials, it is possible for the keys to be worn out or break. If your key snaps in the ignition cylinder, don’t try and pry it out on your own as it can lead to further damage.

Instead, connect with a skilled locksmith or the car dealership to retrieve the damaged key and get a new one made

Transponder Keys

Transponder keys comprise an additional component, which is the “chip”, and so the typical reasons for the transponder car key fob not working are different:

Dead Battery: If the tiny battery inside your transponder key is dead, the key will not be able to communicate with the immobiliser system in the car, and this could be the reason why the central lock key is not working or why your car won’t start.

To restart the key, simply get the battery replaced. The coin cell battery in transponder keys is easily available.

Damaged Chip: If your keys are damaged because of reasons such as exposure to harsh weather, the chip inside can become unresponsive. Any damage to the chip means that the key will have to be replaced.

A replacement key that is specifically programmed for your vehicle will have to be procured from an authorised repair centre.

Programming Loss or Misalignment: On certain occasions, the security system of the car cannot recognise the key if the chip inside is misaligned. This could be the reason why the car lock sensor is not working.

To fix this issue, the transponder key must be reprogrammed to correspond with the immobiliser system by a qualified locksmith or the vehicle’s service department.

Remote Keyless Entry Keys/ Smart Keys

Here are some common reasons for a smart car’s remote not working:

Dead or Defective Battery: A key fob failure can typically be caused by a dead or defective battery that can impair its communication with the central locking system in the car or keep the engine from starting.

Physical Damage to the Key Fob: If you have mishandled the key fob in a way that there is physical damage (such as broken casings and damaged electrical components) to it, then the key will malfunction.

In such cases, it is advised not to repair the car remote but instead to get it replaced.

Issues with Key Fob Programming: If your car key fob is not working, it could be because there are problems with the programming.

To get the key to start working again, you will have to get it reprogrammed by a qualified locksmith or an authorised service centre, as this process demands special tools and skills.

Blockage in Signal: Interference from other electrical equipment or nearby metal objects can disrupt the signal of the key fob.

To fix this issue, ensure that the fob is not in close proximity to any electronics or metal objects before trying to use the key fob again.

Wrapping Up

To identify why your car key is not working, it is important to know which type of key your car has and work out a solution from there.

However, it cannot be denied that the experience of not having a functional car key can disrupt your routine.

To prevent this from happening, it is advised to invest in comprehensive insurance for 4-wheelers. A comprehensive car insurance policy comes with a set of unique add-ons that enable you to ensure wholesome protection on roads by strengthening your insurance.

With a key replacement add-on to your insurance for a four-wheeler, the cost of replacing your car keys is borne by your insurance provider.

In addition to these convenient benefits, car insurance acts as your financial safety net in distressing times by securing your savings in the event of an unfortunate accident. To know how much your insurance will cost you, you can use the free car insurance calculator and unlock the door to safer road journeys.

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