‘Why won't my car respond to the remote key?’ [Newbie Guide]   

Updated Feb 27, 2023 | Same topic: Beginner's Guide

Having an unresponsive vehicle can easily push a car owner’s buttons. 

Keyless entry is among the standard features offered on modern cars, and one that likely impresses the new driver. After all, simply pushing a button on the key fob to unlock the car doors beats having to fumble with a physical key, especially when you need to get inside in a jiffy. 

Key fob and car

It's annoying when the car doesn't respond to your key fob

But technology doesn’t always equal convenience, and car owners might find themselves puzzled over the vehicle’s failure to respond even after repeated presses on the key fob button. Not what you’d want to deal with, especially if you’re in a hurry. While it may be a hassle, this sort of thing is not unusual, so don’t go blaming your car’s manufacturer just yet.  

As the key fob is a small radio transmitter that sends a signal to your car telling it to either lock or unlock the doors, this is the first cause to consider. Check if the key fob buttons are not worn out or damaged, especially if you happen to be driving an older model. There could also be other problems with the key fob itself such as loose wiring, water damage, or programming issues. 

Subaru key fobs

Car manufacturers give two key fobs so the other one can serve as backup

Assuming that there is nothing outwardly wrong with the remote key, the culprit could be a dead key fob battery. Key fobs usually have a physical key hidden inside for when you need to unlock the door in cases like this, but it might not be useful if your car’s ignition uses a push-start button. In that case, using the spare remote key would be a better option, if you can’t replace the key fob battery just yet.    

Sometimes, it could be the car itself that has a problem with receiving the key fob signals. The battery under the hood might need to be recharged or replaced. Another possibility could be a faulty antenna or wiring in the keyless entry system, requiring that the vehicle be inspected by a professional automotive electrician. 

Cellsite tower

Parking near other radio transmitters can also cause problems with the key fob

If there is nothing wrong with either the key fob or the car, you might be looking at radio interference. This occurs if you happen to be parked within close range of external radio signal sources such as wifi routers, broadcast transmitters, and cell sites. These can interfere with the key fob signals, especially if they use the same frequency.            

Find more tips for beginner car owners at Philkotse.com

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo


Joseph holds a degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines Diliman and has been writing professionally since 1999. He has written episodes for CNN Philippines' motoring show Drive, and has worked on corporate projects for MG Philippines and Pilipinas Shell. Aside from being Philkotse.com’s Content Lead, he also writes content for numerous car dealerships in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Maserati, among others.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kapatilya

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