Why are these keys such bad quality? If you’re reading this, you probably have a Ford Custom Key with buttons that have stopped working, and possibly a wobbly key blade on top. It’s not good, and we see broken Ford Custom keys every week, at our key repair shop in Lincoln.
It all depends on how well the keys are looked after. If it’s your own personal van and you’re the only driver, the keys will probably last a long time (well more than 3 years).
However, if your drive a company van, that’s shared with many drivers, there’s a good chance that the keys will be ruined after 3-4 years, they’re just not up to the job. What we have is another example of Inferior Component design.
So, we decided to see what the problem was and, how to fix it, to save the need for a new key. The good thing is we’ve made an improvement on the original (which, let’s face it, didn’t take much effort).
There are two main problems that we’ll look at. If you’d prefer to watch, rather than read, there’s also a YouTube video at the end of the post.
Problem One Ford Custom key buttons stop working.
This problem could so easily have been prevented, with a little forethought. The battery inside the key is rechargeable, much like the one on the MK7 Transit. It’s supposed to make it tough and hardwearing, a sealed unit, so you can drop it into water etc, and it still works.
The reality is that it’s not the water you need to worry about. Just the drop is enough to kill the buttons dead. A rechargeable battery is held on by two thin legs, nothing else.
Unlike the Freelander key battery, that has a sturdy plastic support frame, (and these still break!) the Ford Custom key buttons stop doing anything, simply because the battery legs break.
No battery power, no worky.
Problem Two Ford Custom key blade is wobbly and loose
This second problem starts off as irritating and then eventually the key blade drops out and gets lost. The design of the flip blade arrangement in most modern car keys is not good enough.
Designers are getting paid good money to ship a far below average product. When you add in the cheap manufacture, you end up with a Ford Custom key blade that just dangles off the end of the key, or won’t flip out when you need it. All this after just 3 years.
Ford Custom Key Buttons that stop working and How To fix them
So, you need a few a pair of Circlip pliers, these are our best friends. If you squeeze the handle, the jaws open and this is what we use of open up most keys.
Pop them into the slot where the blade goes and give it a squeeze.
Buy these pliers from our Amazon Link above
The case will crack, then you may be able to pull the two halves apart, or you may need to use the pliers again. So once the case is open, you can see there’s the circuit board inside. Next you need to get the circuit board out of the key
When you’re opening and handing the key, you need to take care. The small component shown below is delicate.
Just go careful, don’t catch any of the delicate components when you do that. If it is knocked off or damaged, the van will not start after you’ve fixed the key. So just take it slow. As the commander of the American Navy Seal says…”Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast”. So, there’s no rush.
The Ford Custom Battery problem
So, you can see there the key battery’s hanging off the board. The leg’s supposed to go into that hole.
So, we’re going to replace the battery and re-solder it. Okay, to put a new battery onto the key we need to get the old key battery off first. There are two blobs of solder that attach the key battery legs on the back of the circuit board.
We’re going to show you how to get rid of those blobs of solder easily. You need to get rid of them before you can do much
Buy this cheap solder braid on Amazon by clicking the link above
Okay, so this is solder mop and we use this to remove solder from the key. So, if you don’t have the equipment to be taking these keys apart and de-soldering the battery you really want to leave it alone. Because if you try and get the battery off without doing all this you might break the key all together.
So that’s one that you can see there. The solders all gone. Okay, so that’s clearing out all the old solder from the key and the battery just dropped off.
Fitting the new Ford Custom Key battery
So that just shows you that they’re only connected to one side, one leg and not the other. Okay. So, to finish off we just going to get the rest of the solder off that key. On the second leg now.
Now, if you don’t want to replace the battery you can just open the key and you re-solder that leg. However, we think if you’re getting this far you might as well just replace the battery
Okay. So, here’s replacement battery. These are available on eBay and they’re about nine or ten pounds and we’re going to put this into the new key.
Poke it through the holes and you can see the little legs poking through there. So, I’m just going to solder them up and then we’ll show you what it’s like when it’s finished.
Pretty straight forward. You don’t need much solder. You just need to make sure you get solder all the way around the leg. Next, check that the key’s transmitting. Now, we’ve got a machine to do this, but you can just walk out to your van and try it. If you operate central locking, then it’s working fine.
This is a repair case we found on eBay. It fits the Mondeo and the Transit, So, when you get that new case, open it up again with some circlip pliers.
So, we put the circuit board inside the case. We put a little bit of silicone inside to support the new battery. This is how we’ve made the key better and what Ford should have done in our opinion.
Excuse Simon’s lovely squishy finger. We put it on the back of the key just to support the key so that doesn’t happen again when the key gets dropped. Hopefully that’s a better repair.
Ford Custom Key Blade Mechanism
Firstly, this part here is different to this. It’s been made differently so you can’t just put this bit into your new Ford Custom key case. It won’t work. So, can you take this old blade out and put it into this new key? You might be able to, but the trouble is the little tangs that hold in the key are not the same shape.
If you wanted to put this old key blade into this new hinge mechanism, you’re going to need to file it down slightly and mess about. We’re just going to cut this key.
But you can have a go at making the old blade fit, you have nothing to lose, seeing as it’s going in the bin anyway. You need to knock out the pin in each key that holds the blade in. This can be a but tricky and you’ll need a thin punch or pin. It’s a bit fiddly.
How To build up this Ford Custom Key flip mechanism.
Just pop the silver button into the blade holder. There’s only one way this will go through. Okay, it’s just a little bit fiddly. Next, pop the spring into here. So, it’s the end without the tail. That goes into there.
Okay, next thing we’re going to take the blade mechanism and it needs to go onto this half of the repair key. This little spigot here lines up with the hole in the spring.
So just must bear with me while we line up. You must remember that it’s going to flick clockwise, so you must wind it anti clockwise. So, wind it round, okay so that’s all good. Remember to put the ring back in.
And then we’re going to seal the key back up. And then get rid of the excess silicone. Just push it into there to make a bit of a support.
Okay. So, we’re going to pop the screw in and then we’re going to pop the cap that comes with the case, cover up all the goop.
And we can see from the tester there that the key transmits fine, if you turn the tester on.
What to do about your Ford Custom key blade
The last thing to do is the problem with this blade here. So, obviously, you need the blade either cut or you need it put into this key. The issue, really, is that quite often these blades here won’t go into the aftermarket cases. So, we would recommend getting the key blade cut. Find a good auto locksmith or key cutting shop that’s prepared to do it. Or, get it done by post.
Okay. So, we’ve got the blade cut now and so there you go. Our key’s ready, so we can get rid of all the old key there. This new key will start the van and the buttons all work. And we’re good to go.
Do you have a Focus or Mondeo key and need a fix for it? These keys look the same as the Ford Custom key, but use a different type of battery. Click here to find out how to fix these keys
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