Broken Car key buttons – Can they be saved?

Another day, another email asking for help about broken car key buttons.

This is such an annoying problem, the frustration felt by millions of motorists around the world, could have been avoided.

They spent tens of millions designing car locking systems, allowing you to unlock the car by pressing a button. But after all that investment, they spent pennies designing and manufacturing the keys that use this system. Madness, lazy and short sighted. 

However, it’s what we’re stuck with, so what can we do about it?

There are six reasons your car key buttons no longer work

  1. Your Key Battery needs changing.
  2. The rubber or plastic car key buttons are worn out or missing.
  3. The electronic switch underneath the rubber button is damaged or missing.
  4. The key has failed, because they’ve used delicate electronic components.
  5. The car key has got wet.
  6. The car has a problem with the central locking.

So, we’ll look at these problems with your car key buttons one by one.

Problem 1 – Your car key battery needs changing

Let’s hope it’s just this. Most key batteries are easy to change, and we explain everything in this post. You may find you have a rechargeable battery in your key, so it can’t be changed easily. This is a whole new problem but can be sorted out. Find out more here

Problem 2 – The rubber or plastic car key buttons have worn out or are missing

Most car keys suffer from this problem, some worse than others. Sometimes the rubber stretches, losing its form. Then the rubber tears a small hole as fingers press even harder to make the button work.

Or with other keys, the hard-plastic buttons fall out of the key, exposing the inside of the key.

How can I fix this problem?

To fix your rubber buttons, you need a new plastic case. By taking the important electronics out, and putting into a new key shell, the key can get new life. We do hundreds of these repairs every year, even by post.

These cases are readily available and can be fixed using a bit of simple key DIY. Others are more complicated and really need to be left to the experts.

Click here is a list of keys that we’d suggest you leave alone, telling you how hard the repair is, and whether you should attempt it yourself.

We see lots of keys damaged beyond repair when Key DIY takes place, here are just a few we’ve seen.

We also see plenty of occasions when important electronics are thrown away during the DIY process, leaving the car immobilised. Again, you can read all about it by clicking here.

But the good news is that if yours is an easy one to do, then it’s a very cheap way to give your car key new life and we recommend it.

Problem 3 – The electronic switch underneath the rubber car key buttons is damaged or missing.

When the rubber car key buttons wear through, it leaves the electronics exposed. Or, with some keys, even before a hole appears, the rubbers stretch, and it puts the switch underneath in danger of damage. This leads to a broken car key.

When the electronic switches get damaged, it can be fixed, depending on what type of car it is. Some keys have large chunky switches that are easy to remove and then re-solder. Or, others have the smallest of switches that even a brain surgeon would struggle with.

For our handy guide to whether your broken car key can be fixed, click here.

The outlook for the key can be very good, so it’s definitely worth finding out whether it can be fixed, or if you need a new car key.

Problem 4 – The key has failed, because they’ve used delicate electronic components

Some car keys are doomed to fail, simply because they’re packed with delicate electronics, better suited to an easier life. Put them in a Freeview box or build them into your Amazon Alexa maybe. But if you put them into a car key that is thrown, dropped, heated and frozen, there’s a shelf life.

This shelf life means that car key buttons stop doing what they are supposed to do. Electronics just get worn out

car key buttons

Delicate Electronic components

Car Keys are only example of life-expired electronics that come to mind. Phones and laptops go slow, cameras and camcorders suffer poor battery life, but not many items suffer this early component damage. This leads to a broken car key, with car key buttons no longer working.

There’s very little that can be done, unless an electronics expert can identify which part of the key is faulty. So, we’ll assume that’s not going to happen.

The only answer again, is a new key.

Problem 5 – The car key has got wet

Fatal for car keys. The curse of wet car keys. A key in a pint of beer is no longer very funny, because we don’t see many keys survive a dunking.

At first, your car key buttons may keep working if you dry it our correctly. Want to know how? Click here

However, it’s common for moisture to remain in the key even if it’s still working. The moisture leads to corrosion, and the keys fails, sometimes weeks later.

Can the key be saved?

Not often. This is why some keys including Ford, Land Rover and BMW have sealed units, to prevent the water getting to the electronics. this is good idea, until the key battery gives up and needs changing. Read what we think about it here.

Problem 5 – The car has a problem with the central locking

If the engine of your car is damaged, then getting it serviced with an oil change won’t make any difference. Just because you’ve used nice clean oil, it doesn’t change the fact that the pistons, or valves have been damaged.

In the same way, a new central locking key is not the answer, if the central locking system on the car is playing up on the car.

Lots of people will blame your broken car key buttons for the problem. Before you spend any money, do this simple test

If the central locking behaves itself during the test, then maybe it’s worth a new car key. However, if it fails the test, then you’ll be throwing good money away. Don’t buy a new car key, put the money into getting the central locking system looked out and repaired.

No amount of car key magic will fix a broken car central locking system, so think wisely before you spend money on a new car key.

We hope this helps and please leave any questions you have below

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