Car Key Designers and Rechargeable batteries

Something very simple has been messed up by clever designers. This happens everywhere, probably because they believe that innovation makes things more desirable. Sometimes it does. Who can imagine now having to sit near the telephone point in the house, just to go on the internet? Wifi has improved our enjoyment of the internet beyond imagination. However this technology concerns the simple rechargeable battery.

However, sometimes technology is introduced to areas that it’s not needed. As an Auto-Locksmith, we specialise in the supply and programming of the latest vehicle keys. For the buttons to work, a battery is needed and here lies the problem. In the olden days, (actually only twenty years ago now) buttons were introduced to allow us to open and close the car, without having to use the key in the door. This was a good use of technology. It made our lives easier and technically, it reduced the wear on the key and lock. A move in the right direction.

Freelander 2 Key

Freelander 2 Key

Fast forward to 2008 and manufacturers introduce rechargeable batteries to the motor trade. Now the principle is fine. The user, me and you, doesn’t have to worry about the key not working. The battery is continually charged while the vehicle is running, a great idea in principle. However, the problem is that the designer hasn’t considered the operating environment. In car keys, unlike other rechargeable applications,  they are dropped, thrown, sat on etc, which makes their shelf life is short. The environment has a detremental effect on the technology. So what’s lookded like a fantastic idea on paper, does not stand up to use.

So how does recharchable technology affect us, as the user?

Well firstly, rechargeable batteries can only be charged so many times.  Car batteries and mobile phones are just two examples. When the battery comes to the end of it’s life it needs to be replaced. With a car battery, no problem, easy out, easy in. With mobile phones, often the user has an upgrade before the battery life starts to degrade, however if the phone is passed on to a another person,  a battery is soon  needed.

Landrover Discovery Key with Rechargeable Battery

Landrover Discovery key

Rechargeable Car key batteries are a problem.

The designers took the step of introducing rechargeable batteries in the latest, top of the range cars. BMW, Landrover and Rangerover all have these batteries embedded within the key. Unfortunately, the key case cannot be opened. This means that when the battery comes to the end of it’s life, it isn’t possible for the average Joe or Sally to change it. In fact we see people everyday that have almost wrecked the key, trying to open it. It’s glued, sealed tight and it isn’t coming out. This is a problem for several reasons.

Ford Transit Key with Rechargeable Battery

Ford Transit key

Firstly, the main dealer answer is that a new key is needed. So instead of changing a battery at the cost of between £5 and £10 every 2-3 years, there’s a bill of around £150 – £300. For this increase in price, there is no benefit to the user. I mean, you press the button, the car unlocks, that’s it. It doesn’t unlock faster, or with any additional benefit, it just unlocks as it would do with a normal battery. On top of this extra cost, let’s consider the inconvenience. Instead of visiting the local car parts shop and having a battery fitted, the owner must

  1. Visit the dealer to order a key, only to get told he needs ID.
  2. Return to the dealer with the logbook, ID and usually a utility bill, all in the same name.
  3. Pay for the key up front, at a cost of £150 – £300.
  4. Wait for the key to be delivered, 3  – 14 days.
  5. Return to the dealer for the key to be programmed.

More importantly, instead of disposing of a small battery, the whole key is wasted, thrown into the landfill, which is a massive amount of environmental waste, for no benefit. With millions of cars on the road that use this system, it’s a huge amount of unnecessary waste.

Fortunately, thanks to this enormous oversight by the designers, opportunity has presented itself for the problem solvers. Already, replacement repair cases are available and on sale. We use these within our business to offer an alternative to the dealer solution. By recycling the electronics and replacing the battery, independents like us can offer same day service which saves time, money and waste. So have the designers learnt from this obviuos problem? Unfortunately not.

Find out how these keys can now be repaired

 

Ford Transit vans and tool theft

Every week, we hear about Ford Transit vans in Lincolnshire that are being broken into. It’s been happening for years with power tools as the target. However, since the value of scrap metal has dropped to nothing, it’s getting much worse.

The problem is not confined to Ford. Anyone driving a Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat should also be worried, but we’ll cover that another time. However the Ford Transit is now the number one target for thieves, and they are getting good at the thieving.

transit-theft-victim-2

One of many tool theft victims, read his story here.

http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/reading-berkshire-news/tilehurst-van-thefts-mans-livelihood-10605829

In the past, people have said I am ‘giving the game away’ by highlighting this problem. However, it has become so bad,  that I believe you should know how it really is.

There is equipment, on sale to anyone, that will unlock Ford Transit vans in just a few seconds, then it will lock the van back up afterwards.

In fact the first time most people know they’ve been robbed is when they get to work, and the back of the van is empty. Worse still, the thieves know you will buy new tools, so come back a few weeks later for a second helping.

This article is another example of the problem.

http://www.itv.com/news/anglia/update/2016-04-25/police-warn-thieves-may-have-found-way-to-bypass-locks-on-ford-transits/

Transit Tool Theft What You Can Do

For a start,  accept there’s a problem and to take on board how much trouble it causes. It’s not just the value of the tools, which can be in the thousands of pounds. It’s also the disruption it will cause. Letting customers down, may cause far more problems than the cost of tools. Then there is the cost of your insurance and not to mention your mental health as you lie in bed, wondering if tonight’s the night.

Those in denial will say ‘If they want to get in, they will, no matter what you do’. If that’s how you treat security, you may as well just put the tools out on the roadside with a sign saying ‘help yourself’. There are many options that will decrease your chance of being a victim, including alarms, additional physical security and security lighting. The average cost of addition security locks equal the cost of one power tool.

So now you know. Tool theft is on the increase, your fleet, or van is at risk, but you can do something about it. If you need advice on the locks we recommend, just message us and we’ll point you in the right direction.

 

Nissan Qashqai – Removing the Ignition

If you’ve read our blog previously, you’ll know that we’ve spotted a problem with Nissan Qashqai, Note and Micra ignition locks.

Over a two years ago, we looked at our first Qashqai problem.  We had the car in our workshop for a spare key, and couldn’t remove the customer’s key from the ignition!

That’s Odd!

We had to take off the ignition and strip it down while the customer waited in our reception area. This gave us an insight into the problems you must have. So we dug a bit deeper into the problem, and found a solution.

In this world of DIY, we know that some of you out there want to try and get it fixed, without taking it to Nissan. We’ve a made this video that will show you clearly what you need to do.

Here is a testimonial from one of our customers who watched the video and saved themselves time and money..

Getting ready to remove the ignition

To take the ignition off the Qashai, Note or Micra, you just need some basic tools. A philips screwdriver, a hammer and a really sharp punch is all you need.

 

These seem a bit basic, but we use them day in and day out in our workshop in Lincoln. We fix between twenty and forty locks every month and post them all around the UK after they’ve been refurbished.

Is Nissan Qashqai DIY for you?

If you still fancy getting the lock off yourself and stripping it down, you’ll we’ll send you a two videos over the next few days.

Before you start, you’ll need to arrange for your car to be off the road for the day, so don’t leave it blocking in cars, or parked where it shouldn’t be!

To get the information you need, simply pop your email address above and we’ll get you started

Renault and Vauxhall Vans Keys – Old Keys Like New.

If you have a Renault or Vauxhall van, there is a good chance that your key has two buttons and look like this.

vivaro-traffic-new

These keys are very good. Bearing in mind that they’re used for work, they are one of the most reliable keys we’ve seen. However they have a few basic problems that can easily be fixed and we’d like to show you how we do this.

Worn Rubber Buttons

Over the years, eventually, the rubber becomes worn and a hole appears, leaving the key looking like this.

broken_keys-0251

 

The good news is that if caught early enough, the case can be replaced which fixes the problem.

Broken Switches

So if the key is used after the rubbers have broken, as well as the dirt and water that gets in,  pressing down on the microswitch directly causes the switch to break and stop working. Again, the good news is on these Renault and Vauxhall van keys, the broken switches can be replaced with new ones.

Watch our video to show how we bring these keys back to life.

Immobiliser Problems

Sometimes, if the keys get really old, the chip becomes damaged and this will stop the van from starting. The symptoms are the same as the Renault clio which is shown in following video.

The important thing here is that Renault Traffic and Master, as well as Vauxhall Movano and Vivaro suffer from various immobiliser problems. Most commonly, the computer that controls the immobiliser is underneath the coffee cup holder. Of course, over time, coffee and tea, or worse still sugary drinks, spill out and stop the computer working properly.  These have nothing to do with the key, instead they are problems that can only be cured by replacing the computer.

Early Action Saves Money

The important thing with these keys is that if they are fixed early, then the bill is small, however if they are left too long, a new key is needed. Don’t leave it too long!

 

 

 

 

Volkswagen T5 Transporter Broken Keys

Volkswagon T5 Transporter Broken Key problem

The Volkswagen Transporter has an amazing fan base, they’re loved more than any other van. We never see an owner getting dewey-eyed over their Ford Transit or Renault Traffic. However, the Transporter is set apart. Then there’s all the add-ons, Transformer stickers, surfing and camping accessories and conversions.

Transporter

As well as good looks, all Transporters have had a great reputation for reliability. There are so many old T4 Transporters that are still going strong. Therefore, it’s a surprise that the latest T5’s, built from about 2010 have a problem.

Faulty Transporter Ignition Locks

We’ve not seen anything official about this, so we can only say what we see. Around two years ago, we noticed that the new shape of Transporter started to suffer from broken keys. We originally believed it was due to the new style of ‘one-piece’ key, not being as strong as the traditional ‘two-piece’. However, we also started to see Transporter ignitions that were very ‘notchy’ and stiff to turn on. Instead of the smooth action of old, it took alot of effort to crank the key.

 

Transporter Key

It seems that a fault in the ignition housing, (the metal casting that holds the ignition lock ) is causing the lock to become jammed. When this happens, there is nothing that can be done, the lock will not turn. Sometimes the lock can be saved, as long as it can be removed from the faulty housing without being damaged. Other times it means a whole new ignition lock and housing is needed.

Do you need New Transporter Keys?

This depends. The good news is that there are now repair cases, as an alternative to a whole new key. The buttons on the key still need to work (lock and unlock the van) AND the transponder chip within the key, still needs to be delivering a signal to the immobiliser system.

Transporter broken key

 

What often happens, is that the owner keeps using the key, long after it breaks, They put the blade into the ignition, then force it to turn using pliers, holding the electronic part close to the ignition. Over time, it damages the electronics, and means the key cannot be saved and re-cased.

Keeping the Transporter dream alive

Eventually, we believe these vans will need new ignitions, housings and keys. They’ll also need the keys programming using diagnostics for these vans, so make sure that your local expert is confident in programming these tricky vans.

img_4655

 

Hopefully the problem will be looked into, so that any replacement parts will last longer. If you have a Volkswagen Transporter and notice that the ignition is stiff, then contact your local Auto Locksmith expert, before you lose the use of a much loved family member, the iconic T5.

If you’ve have this problem with your T5, let us know in the comments below.

Toyota screwed up?

Firstly let me say that I love Toyota cars. When we were first courting, we had this old Toyota Corolla, ‘E’ reg, I still remember the reg plate. It was out first joint car ( although I rarely got to drive it). I remember that it had these three lights on the dash, green, yellow and red, for the fuel economy, which was cool at the time. It served us well as did the Toyota Carina we bought after it, that ran..and ran …and ran for ten years. So I am more than impressed with the build quality and reliability. Which is why the design of the keys is such a disappointment.

broken-toyota-key-2-bmp

The screw in the wrong place

The problem started in 1998, when Toyota introduced remote control keys with the new models. The design they came up with had the following design features. The weakest part of the key, the point at which all turning force passes through, is the part that is sticking out of the lock. The blade itself is tucked away inside and so is protected by the lock. However, as soon as the blade sticks out, it has turning force applied to it. This is nothing new, all car keys have it. Unfortunately, instead of making that vulnerable point stronger,  they drilled a whole through it. Next, at this weakest point, they placed a screw that holds both halves of the case together. Lastly, the material that surrounds the hole, they skimped on and made it too thin.

broken-remote-head

The battery is the start of the problems

After 5-6 years, which again is impressive, the battery inside the remote control becomes intermittent. Now if the screw was easy to undo, no doubt that owners would change the battery. But no, it is a tiny screw, one that only the finest watch makers possess. This means that the oversize screwdriver that is used, rounds off the screw head and then it’s never coming open.

toyota-screw-head

So this is clearly not a Toyota screw, but you get the idea,. Once it gets to this point, the owner will often give up and start to use the key in the door lock. This is a logical next step, the problem is that it puts even more pressure on the head of the key. Then we get the Key DIY

Key DIY

These keys have some great attempts at keeping the case together.

toyota-key-diy-1

Losing the chip and remote control

Unfortunately, unless some effort is made to keep the key together, such as in these examples, the case splits open and the important part falls on the floor. The owner may notice, if they are using the car at the time, or they may not, if they are out in the park and the keys fall open away from the car. The result is a disaster. Firstly the car won’t start, which is a common problem across all manufacturers. But more importantly, without a Toyota key, you, the owner cannot get another easily. Not from the dealer anyway.. Read about it our next blog.

There are really common problems in all makes of car. Click Here to read about how broken keys can be fixed.

Our Solution

The simple answer is to re-case the insides, while you still have them. We made this video to show what we do to solve this common problem. Don’t get caught out just because Toyota screwed up…

Renault Clio keys – Is my key faulty?

People love Renault cars. The French are great at making smart, styish, fun to drive models  including the Clio.

clioHowever, people also hate Renault cars because they have many electrical problems. In the motor trade, some models have become the benchmark for truly poor design.

clio-wiring-2

It’s no surprise that the keys cause problems. From the earliest models back in 1995, the keys have been troublesome. Here at the Car Key Man, Renaults have been a solid earner. This is because we since 2004 , we’ll get a call every week about a Renault Clio and there’s a good chance it will be the key!

So how do I know if the key is faulty?

With the Clio II, (2001 – 2006) there are several electrical problems that cause the car not to start. Most of the time, the key is blamed (let’s face it, they haven’t helped themselves here).  We wanted to help you to distinguish between a car key fault, and other electrical issues.

The imobiliser light.

The car has an immobiliser light on the dashboard. In the centre of the dash, a small red dot will flash at regular intervals, (about once a second) when the ignition is off. This simply means that the immobiliser is active, so ‘don’t try and steal me’.

Next, the correct operation is that when you have a good working key, when you turn on the ignition, that immobiliser light comes on for 1-2 secs, (checking out the key) and then when the car is happy, it will go out for good, allowing the car to start.

Please take a look at our video, showing the immobiliser light in actiion

If the car doesn’t start, before jumping under the bonnet, take 2 mins to look at the immobiliser light. To do do this, simply turn the ignition on, let the dash light up with all the other lights, and see what the immobiliser light does. If it flashes rapidly, then there is a good chance that it’s not recognising the car key. What’s more, when the keys starts to go faulty, it may not do this all the time, so keep an eye on it.

The last thing the light may do is stay on solid. This is confusing because sometimes this is caused by the car key, but mostly it indicates another more serios problem on the car such as wiring or module problems. If the immobiliser light stays on solid, it should be looked at by a good auto-electrician.

Changing the keyfob battery.

Many owners believe that by simply replacing the car key battery, this will help the car start.

renault-kangoo-immobiliser-bypass-4

This is wrong on most models of car , but we will cover this in a later blog.

 

 

Vauxhall Combo ignition trouble

Vauxhalls have always had trouble with their ignitions. Since I started fourteen years ago, the warm months cause a ‘sticky’ ignition to become completely jammed. It wasn’t the heat causing the problem, just bringing to light an underlying fault. Vauxhall Combo vans are still prone to this problem. Every month, we attend to van owners that can no longer turn the key in the ignition lock.

This summer we didn’t see many of these.  This is simply because the newer Vauxhall Astra, Vectra, Zafira and Corsa cars have a re-designed ignition.  These new locks seem to be behaving themselves much better than their predecessors. However there is one vehicle that still uses the old design and that is the Vauxhall Combo Van and Corsa C

vauxhall combo

Vauxhall Combo Stepping back in time

Vauxhall Combo vans were built up to recently, still using an old style of ignition and this weekend we stepped back in time to when I first began, with a lady who had been having trouble for a while with the ignition feeling not quite right, but then early morning one Friday, it totally packed up, at a customers address.

She is a gardener and can visit alot of places in one day. This stop / start behaviour contributes to the wear in the ignition. Stranded outside a customers address, she was passed our number by her local garage. The thing we do different to the dealer is that we can react quickly and come up with a plan to get the vehicle running very quickly.

In this case, we ordered a new ignition for the next day, built it up to the original key, and she was back to work the following day, which is why we love our job. Helping people when they need it most. She was so pleased, she agreed to a testimonial and here is her story.

 

 

 

 

Remote Keys for Audi Cars

audi-key

At last, they have made it easier. Audi cars have always been a bit of a nightmare for us and all independent Auto Locksmiths. One of the first ever Audi cars we plugged into, back in 2010,  already had a faulty dash but we didn’t know about it. By plugging into it, we managed to make the dash corrupt (and ended up with a £900 bill from the dealer ). This was just from just plugging into a new car we hadn’t tried before and trying to programme a key! So as you can imagine, we’ve been reluctant to plug into the newer models.

A common problem

What happened to us is very common we’re told when trying to do key programming on Audi cars. Therefore alot of research has been going on, behind the scenes, to allow independents like ourselves, to be able to supply and programme this type of key with confidence to look after our customers.

Also what hasn’t helped, is that a new key usually has to come from the main dealer, otherwise it won’t programme. This makes a spare key very expensive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now things have changed. New equipment allows us to supply and code new remote keys, safely, without the risk of upsetting the car. This new equipment also makes the key much more affordable for you, the customer.

We were so pleased with the result, here it is!

https://youtu.be/hUa8OH6Hz6M

 

Suzuki Swift Car Keys

 

Our blog today is about Suzuki Swift proximity car keys.

suzuki-swift-front

We’re seeing a trend in Lincoln. Owners of Suzuki Swift cars are buying them, not knowing what type of key they are supposed to have. When they come to us, they are being driven on the small emergency key, that is only supposed to be used occasionally, instead of having a proximity key.

The blade has a transponder chip inside it and it’s this chip that allows the car to start up and run. When it’s cut to fit the car, it can be used to open the doors and then put into the ignition. However there is a problem with this. The small plastic loop is not very strong and if it has a bunch of keys attached to it, and twists in the lock too often, it breaks. When that happens it is easy to lose.

Suzuki prox key blade

What is a proximity Key?

So what you should have is a proximity key. This key is clever. It doesn’t look like a key, but the car can sense that it’s present. So the idea is that you just leave it in your pocket, or your handbag. The emergency key is slid inside the proximity key, just in case one day it doesn’t work one day, or the battery runs out. This saves the wear and tear on the emergency blade.

swift smart key

To use it is very easy, you don’t need to touch the key. You simply press and hold the rubber button on the door handle. If it senses the proximity key, it will unlock the car. Next sit in the car and twist the ignition. This is a funny looking arrangement, but it’s nice and big and allows weaker hands to turn it and seems to work well.

suzuki-swift-keyless-large

So it’s important, before buying one of these cars, that they are selling the car with a proximity key. Many are being advertised with just the emergency blade and buyers know no different. These proximity keys are quite expensive, so you don’t want that expense after buying the car. Below is our video guide, on how to change the key battery