My Car Remote Won't Work

by Barbara Cannon
keyless remote image by Ray Kasprzak from

Most everyone has come to depend on keyless entry car remotes. Gone is the struggle of trying to insert a key into an obscured lock while laden with packages or a baby. Gone is the ring of key scratches encircling the lock of the car door. Still, no thought is given to the lowly remote. That is, until the day it stops working. The car dealership will replace or repair your remote for no cost if your car is still under warranty. Often though, by replacing the battery, followed by a little reprogramming, these small contraptions can be revived at home.

My Car Remote Won't Work

Step 1

Take a ride in the country.

Get in the driver's seat. Start the car, and go for a drive. There is no absolute time required, but 15-20 minutes should suffice.

Step 2


Stop the car, get out, and attempt to lock and unlock the car with the remote. If it works, you have successfully reset the remote timer, and do not need to continue.

Step 3

Car lights on indicate success!

Press both the "open" and the "lock" button on the remote, at the same time, if the previous step failed. Keep the buttons held down for about one minute. If the car lights go on and off, you were successful in resetting the remote. (Some makes of cars may also beep the horn.)

Step 4

A dime can be used to pry open some remotes.

Change the remote battery. Slide a dime into the groove between the two case halves, if present, and twist. Some remotes have a small screw, or sliding cover on the back, for easy battery access.

Step 5

Turn the car on and off 8 times.

Insert the new battery while seated in the car, as the next step should be done soon after the new battery is in place. Turn the car on and off, eight times, in under 10 seconds. Leave the car on. Press any button on the remote, for a second, to synchronize the remote.

The dealership can replace a remote.

Turn off the car, and get out. Attempt to lock and unlock the car. If unsuccessful still, you will need to seek assistance from the dealer, as a new remote may be in order.


  • Before removing the old battery, note how it is in place, so the new battery can be placed in the proper position. Use the camera on your cellphone to capture and save the size, type and placement, for easy recall.
  • In order to conserve its battery, the remote's timer turns itself off if not used in 8 days. The programming is generally saved, and is restored with a short drive.
  • If you have more than one remote, change the batteries in all of them at the same time. Have all remotes, and fresh batteries with you, in the car, when you get to Step 5. If not, then only the one just reprogrammed will work.
  • Sometimes the rubber conductive pads inside the remote wear thin. Some auto parts stores carry a remote repair kit containing replacement pads for a do-it-your-self repair. Verify that home-made repairs will not void your warranty before attempting this repair.
  • Some make-specific directions can be found online. Include the words "car remote" and the make, model and year of your car. Each make of car can have different steps for reprogramming a remote.


  • If you feel uncomfortable trying to reprogram your remote, make a visit to your dealer. The dealer will reprogram, repair or replace the remote.
  • As odd as it sounds, static can inactivate the remote control in cars with an antenna wire in the rear window. Some sources of static are pets and balloons.
  • If the remote contains 2 batteries, always change both at the same time.

Items you will need

  • Car remote battery (Check your manual for the correct size)

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