What to Do When Your Car Key is Not Working

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We can all relate to that stressful moment where you’re late for work only to find that you can’t unlock your car or even start it. And after countless unsuccessful attempts, you realize that your car key isn’t working. You probably get to board a bus for that day.

When you’re in such a moment, knowing why your car keys aren’t working can be a puzzle. But don’t fret! This is a common problem that most people experience every day. The great news is that most car keys issues can be quickly fixed once the problem is identified. 



Read on to understand why your car key is not working and what you should do to solve the problem.

Types of Car keys

Before we delve into the reasons your car key doesn’t work, you need first to know the type of car key that you have to properly troubleshoot your car key problem. Here are some of the common types of car keys:

1. Traditional Car Key

This is the most common type of car key used on older vehicles. They don’t have any encoding, and you use them to engage your car locks as well as with your ignition. 

2. Transponder Keys

Unlike traditional ones, transponder keys include a microchip in the handle and are more secure. Once you insert your key into the ignition, a sensor responds and activates the transponder. 



3. Smart or Remote Key Fob

This type of key is used with most modern cars. They allow you to automatically unlock your car’s doors without inserting any key. The controls on the keys elicit certain actions from your car. 

Now that you’ve established what type of car keys you have, the next thing is to troubleshoot your car key to help you know the problem.

Why Your Car Key Is Not Working

1. Damaged Lock

If your car door uses a traditional key and it’s not working, there are high chances that the door lock is damaged. After constantly using your car key, the door lock usually wears down over time.

Additionally, things such as dirt and debris in the lock or even having frozen a lock may also lead to your car key, not working as required.   

2. Damaged Key

Car key not working may also result from the key itself being damaged. The grooves in a key typically correspond to the internal mechanisms of the lock or the ignition that it is used for.

Car keys are physical components, and they include grooves that should match the door lock’s internal mechanism to unlock. With time, these grooves undergo wear and tear, and if you don’t observe proper maintenance, your car key ends up getting damaged. 

3. Worn Out Key Fob Batteries

If you have a key fob or entry remote keys, there is a greater probability your key isn’t working because the batteries are dead.  This is a common problem because key fob batteries run out of juice after being used over a certain period without replacement.

Thus, if you find your vehicle not responding to the commands and signals transmitted from your key fob, the chances are the batteries are dead. 

4. Faulty Key Fob

Having a faulty key fob may also be the cause of your key, not working. Since key fob operates by sending signals between a transmitter and a receiver, having any of these components faulty could lead to your key not working.  

5. Car Key Not Programmed

Another huge cause of car key, not working problem is usually the key itself not being programmed to sync with your car. This is something experienced by people with transponder keys and keyless entry remotes.

This is isn’t the case when you’re working with traditional keys as they don’t have a programming issue.  It’s also a common problem among people who often replace their car key remotes or transponders. 

What to Do When Your Car Key Is Not Working

After you’ve determined the reason behind your car key not working, the next thing is identifying the possible solutions to the problem. Here are some of the best ways to solve problems with your car key not working:

1. Get a New Key

If your traditional key isn’t working because it’s damaged the best remedy would be getting it replaced. Car key replacement of your traditional key should be pretty easy and inexpensive to accomplish. 

If you have your entry remote or transponder key replaced, on the other hand, you should consider having them programmed to work with your car.

2. Repair Damaged Door Locks

If you find your car key not working due to damaged car door locks, consider replacing the fuse of the damaged door. It’s usually affordable and easy to fix. You may also consider seeking help from a professional automotive locksmith or your car dealership if your door locks may require solenoid replaced.

Professionals will also help you install new car door locks if needed. 

Learn more about the different locksmith services offered and how you can get help with your damaged car door locks and car key problem.

3. Replace Worn Out Batteries

The remedy to your worn out key fob batteries is to replace them. You can find out the exact type of batteries your car key uses from the manual of your vehicle. Some manuals also include instructions to help you install the new batteries. 

If you can’t locate your copy of the manual, you can check it out on the manufacturer’s website. Car key batteries are available on local hardware stores or ones that sell automotive parts.

4. Repair or Replace Key Fob

If your key fob is damaged internally, you may consider having it checked out and repaired by a qualified automotive locksmith or your car dealership. These professionals know how to identify faulty parts with your key fob and getting it repaired the best way.

If your key fob is damaged beyond repair, they will advise you on the right key fob replacement.

5. Reprogram Car Key

If your car key isn’t programmed, you may consider having handled by a reputable automotive locksmith or by your dealership. Reprogramming your car key enables it to communicate and work with your vehicle seamlessly. 

Seek Professional Assistance

There you have it! Car keys are an essential part of any driver’s daily activities. When your car key is not working, it can not only be stressful but also costly.

Understanding the reasons why your key might not be working and how to go about solving the problem helps you save a lot of time and keeps you from the costly hassle. 

Always seek professional help from a reputable automotive locksmith or your car dealership whenever you’re not sure how to go about remedying your car key problem. 

Check out our website for the best auto repair advice.