Why Does My Key Fob Not Work After Replacing the Battery?

If your key fob isn’t working after replacing the batteries, you may need to reprogram it or check for loose buttons and broken battery terminals.
Written by R.E. Fulton
Edited by Melanie Reiff
Reviewed by John Davis
If your remote key fob isn’t working and you’ve already replaced the battery, you may need to reprogram the key. 
  • Remote car key fobs can be damaged by water or by getting dropped or stepped on.  
  • Loose or damaged battery terminals inside the remote could cause it to fail. 
  • Pressing the key fob buttons too often while out of range or disconnecting your car battery can both deprogram an electric key fob.

The most common reasons your remote key fob isn’t working

If you’ve replaced the batteries in your remote key fob and it’s still not functioning properly, it could be caused by an internal electrical problem, a mechanical failure with your car’s locks, or a simple case of deprogramming. 
The most common causes of this problem include: 
  • Damaged key: Did you recently step on your key or drop it in a puddle? Water damage or physical trauma can cause a remote key fob to stop working—in which case you’ll need a replacement from a mechanic or dealer. 
  • Loose buttons: Maybe the key isn’t fully damaged; the buttons might just be sticky or loose. Try disassembling the key fob and cleaning out any debris or grime that might be interfering with the buttons.  
  • Broken battery connector terminals: While your fob is disassembled, check the battery terminals. Are they loose or damaged? If so, find someone to solder them back into place. 
  • Faulty locks: If all that doesn’t fix your problem, the issue might be with your car’s locks, not the remote. Check to see if the locks work without the fob, and
    get them repaired
    if necessary. 
  • Deprogramming: Your key can be deprogrammed if you press the buttons too many times while out of range or if your car battery is disconnected. 
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Reprogramming an electronic key fob

For a remote key fob to be secure, it must first be paired with your vehicle. If this connection was interrupted, you’ll have to reprogram the fob so that it once again recognizes your car.
To reprogram your key fob, follow this sequence: 
  • Get inside your car and close the door.
  • Insert your key into the ignition.
  • Turn the key into the “run” position—rather than starting it—and then back to the locked position. Do this several times in a row.
  • Once you’ve cycled the key enough times, you’ll usually hear a chime or some other sound, after which you can press the lock or unlock button on your key fob, which will result in another chime.
  • Test the remote to check whether the fob was successfully reprogrammed. 
Some cars have a different program sequence, so If you tried the standard one and it didn’t work, try this alternate one:
  • Enter your car and manually lock the door.
  • Insert the key into the ignition and pull it back out. Do this six times in a maximum of 10 seconds.
  • Your interior and exterior lights will flash if this is the sequence your car uses.
  • Insert the key into the ignition and turn it to the accessory position.
  • Press one of the buttons on your remote key fob.
  • The hazard lights will flash if the reprogramming was successful.
  • Test the remote to make sure the fob is now working properly.
If neither the standard nor alternative reprogramming sequences worked, you’ll need to contact an authorized dealer or an independent
car repair
shop that has experience dealing with the make and model of your vehicle in particular.

Why your electric key won’t work if your car battery is dead

If your car battery is dead, the electric key clicker will not work. However, most electric keys come with a physical key that either flips up like a switchblade or slides out like a sword when you click the release button.
Here are some generalized tips, but be sure to consult your vehicle’s manual for specific instructions:
  • If your vehicle has an exposed keyhole: Insert the key and twist like you would any other key, and the door should open.
  • If your vehicle doesn’t have an exposed keyhole: You will need a slim edge like a screwdriver to remove any plastic covering on the door handle. Then insert the key into the keyhole underneath as normal. Be gentle as you do not want to scratch the paint or break the thinner plastic.
    Jim the Car Guy
    has a great tutorial video on how to access it.


As a general rule of thumb, most remote key fobs use category 4 button cell batteries (the thin, coin-like ones), usually either CR2025 or CR2032, though some models require CR1632 or CR1620. 
Always verify which batteries you need before buying—it’s a good idea to bring one of the old batteries with you to the store to ensure you get the right kind.
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