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.
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.
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.
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
These keys have some great attempts at keeping the case together.
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.
The simple answer is to re-case the insides, while you still have them. Don’t get caught out just because Toyota screwed up…