Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

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Electron
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Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Electron »

My 2016 model year car came with two standard mechanical keys that include buttons for locking, unlocking, and opening the trunk.

I almost never use the buttons and was surprised yesterday when neither key would open the trunk or lock the doors. What kind of battery life would you expect when not even using the electronic features?

Replacing the 3.0 volt CR2016 battery in each key resolved the problem. The interesting thing is that both batteries measured 3.29 volts after being removed. It looks like these batteries need to be tested under load rather than open circuit.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by jebmke »

I replaced the battery on my 2008 RAV4 earlier this year.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Dude2 »

One of my key fobs with CR2016's in them died recently on my 2016 Camry. It was the fob I did not use much. I went ahead and replaced them both. I think they tend to die when not used for some reason -- battery chemistry, I guess.
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MP123
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by MP123 »

I'd expect a lot more than 2-3 years. If the supposedly dead ones tested at 3.29v maybe something else is going on? The anti theft systems on these new cars are complex.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by eugenem »

Just hit 2.5 years on a 2017 MDX and the car triggered a low battery warning for the remote. Changed the battery (CR2032) and all is well again. A quick browse through the Acura forums and a number of owners reported changing the battery around the same time.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by livesoft »

Electron wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:27 pmThe interesting thing is that both batteries measured 3.29 volts after being removed. It looks like these batteries need to be tested under load rather than open circuit.
Maybe simply cleaning the metal surfaces would have worked. You probably have not recycled the old batteries yet, so put them back in and see how long they last now.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Kenkat »

The push button start cars go through remote batteries quicker because the remote also has to function as the key, constantly needing to communicate with the car to enable start based on proximity. On regular key cars, the remotes can last a long time. I am on original batteries still for my 2005 Camry, for example. For our 2014 Odyssey with push start, I’ve already replaced the batteries once.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Hockey10 »

My Honda key batteries seem to last about 4-5 years
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by 7eight9 »

Dude2 wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:33 pm One of my key fobs with CR2016's in them died recently on my 2016 Camry. It was the fob I did not use much. I went ahead and replaced them both. I think they tend to die when not used for some reason -- battery chemistry, I guess.
My 2014 Camry key fob has never given me any problems. After reading this I dug out the other one that has never been used. What do you know? Dead as a doornail. Guess I'm in the market for replacement batteries.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by mmmodem »

3 years seems fine to me given the $2-$3 cost of battery replacement. Your car may be equipped with proximity sensors. My 2012 vehicle turns on the interior lights when I approach the vehicle with the key fob. It's a pretty nice feature. The result of which is that I had to replace the first key fob battery after one year and the second after the third year. My 2005, without such features, the battery lasts so long that I can only recall replacing it once.
Last edited by mmmodem on Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by tomd37 »

The battery in the extra key fob for my 2010 Toyota Venza died just last week. I virtually never use this key fob. But on the other hand, the battery in the daily used fob died last month, so it appears a timing issue and not a use issue. This was the first time for each to go out. I replaced each battery for $5 each purchasing a lithium battery at Lowes and replacing it myself. Googled the subject and very clear instructions were posted there. :D
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Ged »

I have a 2012 car. I've replaced the key fob battery (CR1616) twice. I use the fob a couple of times a day.

These batteries should have a shelf life of at least 5 years.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Kalo »

My 2014 Honda CR-V's first key (the one that I used all the time) quit working after about 3 or 4 years. I dug out the spare and have been using it since and it's holding up so far. I must admit that I have a bad habit of locking my doors multiple times when exiting the vehicle. It's an OCD thing and stupid because the car will lock itself if I forget. So I'm sure I used up the first battery faster than normal because of that and will probably do the same for the second fob I use now. I can manually lock and unlock the doors even if the battery fails. I will replace the batteries in the original one before too long just so I have a good spare on hand.

Another thing that wore out so to speak is the markings on the buttons on the original fob. They rubbed off. So I had to try to memorize which button was lock and which was unlock. But I couldn't seem to get it memorized. This whole thing just reinforces my notion that progress always seems to come with new headaches. Maybe this will all become a non issue when my car can start recognizing me somehow and only unlocking for me. But then I might have trouble letting someone borrow my car?

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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Watty »

When you have the buttons on the key fob to lock and unlock the door it is important to still use the metal key occasionally to prevent the lock from getting gummed up and stuck.

It is not uncommon for someone to have their battery go dead only to find that the metal key which has not been used in a long time also will not open the door.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by fru-gal »

Kalo wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:37 pm Another thing that wore out so to speak is the markings on the buttons on the original fob. They rubbed off. So I had to try to memorize which button was lock and which was unlock. But I couldn't seem to get it memorized. This whole thing just reinforces my notion that progress always seems to come with new headaches. Maybe this will all become a non issue when my car can start recognizing me somehow and only unlocking for me. But then I might have trouble letting someone borrow my car?

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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Trader Joe »

Electron wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:27 pm My 2016 model year car came with two standard mechanical keys that include buttons for locking, unlocking, and opening the trunk.

I almost never use the buttons and was surprised yesterday when neither key would open the trunk or lock the doors. What kind of battery life would you expect when not even using the electronic features?

Replacing the 3.0 volt CR2016 battery in each key resolved the problem. The interesting thing is that both batteries measured 3.29 volts after being removed. It looks like these batteries need to be tested under load rather than open circuit.
My Toyotas - 8 to 10 years. Best of luck.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by meebers »

My 2007 GMC truck, I have yet to replace it. My 2013 Kia Sorento, both wife and my Key Fob about 3-4 months.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by neilpilot »

Kenkat wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:51 pm The push button start cars go through remote batteries quicker because the remote also has to function as the key, constantly needing to communicate with the car to enable start based on proximity. On regular key cars, the remotes can last a long time. I am on original batteries still for my 2005 Camry, for example. For our 2014 Odyssey with push start, I’ve already replaced the batteries once.
+1
....the keyless start fob is actually a transponder and continuously transmits, so it’s battery will usually discharge quicker. The owner manual for my 2016 Mercedes includes a simple procedure to turn off the spare fob’s transponder if it will not be used, to extend battery life. If you later need to use the spare, just push the Unlock button and it comes back to life.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by nisiprius »

Our experience over ten years with a "smartkey" fob was that we had to replace the batteries maybe every three years or so. We got a decent amount of warning--the fob keeps working, just over a shorter and shorter range. I don't think we ever let it get to the point where one of us had to borrow the other's fob.

The real problem is not the cost of the batteries--they were standard 2032 cells which are easy to find, and can be quite cheap if you can find a place that tells them in cards of ten... but I digress... the problem is the lack of do-it-yourself directions, the need for a jeweler's Phillips-head screwdriver, and the anxiety factor about opening up a fob that costs $200 to replace.

Watty's point about "practicing" with the metal key is a good one, I will have to remember to do that.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by southerndoc »

I replace mine every 3 years whether they need replacing or not.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Katietsu »

Watty wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:55 pm When you have the buttons on the key fob to lock and unlock the door it is important to still use the metal key occasionally to prevent the lock from getting gummed up and stuck.

It is not uncommon for someone to have their battery go dead only to find that the metal key which has not been used in a long time also will not open the door.
For those of us with a push button start, I guess this would allow us to sit in the car at least. But, am I right to assume that the car would not start?
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by RetiredAL »

Our newer car, a Ford Explorer, has a smart-key FOB. Batteries seem to last only about a year. The first clue is erratic unlock when the door handle is touched. Then the fob's unlock button range gets short. As it progresses further, the inside key not-present occasionally triggers. And when it dies, you have to put the fob into the RF-ID holder on the center console to start the vehicle. There is a backup door key in the fob case to open the door when the fob dies, then you have to use the RF-ID holder.

DW's fob has shorter life than mine. Too much junk on the fob key chain pushing the buttons. And that's on top of her spilling drinks onto the fob which messes up the button membrane, forcing me to totally disassemble it and dry/clean the button membrane.

As I understand, the handle touched unlock works by the car sending out a short range Very Low Frequency RF which the fob receives and then transmits the unlock signal. Thus there is a receiver in the fob that's always running.The person with the fob does not have to be the handle toucher, but must be within a few ft of the vehicle.

The fob's buttons with an ok battery will work from 100+ ft away. The inside key present sense is literally only the front seat area or back seat floor. If the fob is in a purse in the back, it will not start. And if the sense can't detect the fob, the inhibit to prevent you from locking the doors with the fob inside does not work. DW learned that the hard way.
Last edited by RetiredAL on Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by bikesandbeers »

18 months on Nissan with proximity sensor and push to start. Cr2032 less than $2 each in multipack on amazon.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by neilpilot »

Katietsu wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 10:32 pm
Watty wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:55 pm When you have the buttons on the key fob to lock and unlock the door it is important to still use the metal key occasionally to prevent the lock from getting gummed up and stuck.

It is not uncommon for someone to have their battery go dead only to find that the metal key which has not been used in a long time also will not open the door.
For those of us with a push button start, I guess this would allow us to sit in the car at least. But, am I right to assume that the car would not start?
Not the case in my car. Just remove my push button cover and use the key.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Rudedog »

They told me at the dealership that for the newer cars, the key fob is constantly transmitting to the car, so they batteries generally last two years or so. My Harley motorcycle is the same way. They are easy to change.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by tev9876 »

Kalo wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:37 pm
Another thing that wore out so to speak is the markings on the buttons on the original fob. They rubbed off. So I had to try to memorize which button was lock and which was unlock. But I couldn't seem to get it memorized. This whole thing just reinforces my notion that progress always seems to come with new headaches. Maybe this will all become a non issue when my car can start recognizing me somehow and only unlocking for me. But then I might have trouble letting someone borrow my car?

Kalo
One of my truck fobs disintegrated after about four years. The circuitry was still good, but the plastic case had broken, metal contacts on the underside of the buttons fell off and the pad printing was worn off the entire thing. Instead of paying the dealer $$$ for a new one I ordered a two pack off Amazon for about $10. Since fobs can only be programmed by the dealer for $$, I simply took the circuit board out of the old one and put it into one of the Amazon cases. The design had changed a bit so I had to do some minor surgery with a razor blade but it works just fine. Even came with a new battery.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Electron »

Thanks to all for a lot of helpful and interesting information. It looks like my experience was not unusual with a battery life a little over three years. I have the same 2016 Camry mentioned in the thread also with a key needing a new CR2016 battery this year.

My car has only the basic alarm and lock functions without a transponder. I had assumed that battery drain would not be continuous but that may not be the case. There is some sophistication in these systems today often with encryption and rolling codes.

I now have a collection of used CR2016, CR2025, and CR2032 batteries and all show an open circuit voltage in the range of 3.29 volts. The batteries from the keys do appear to be drained as the voltage drops under 2.5 volts with a 1K ohm load resistance. Several of the other batteries held up much better under load. The new batteries measured 3.29 volts which seems to be normal based on other forum threads. Open circuit voltage measurements may not be real meaningful. New alkaline AA batteries often measure 1.6 volts.

It's great to have this problem behind me. Opening these keys the first time is a bit of a challenge but not difficult if you take your time.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by random_walker_77 »

Katietsu wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 10:32 pm For those of us with a push button start, I guess this would allow us to sit in the car at least. But, am I right to assume that the car would not start?
On a toyota, just hold the transponder next to the start button as you press it. I'd expect other manufacturers to be similar, or might have slightly more involved procedures. Google and youtube are your friend here (as is your owner's manual)

http://toyota.custhelp.com/app/answers/ ... -enter-the
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by nisiprius »

Full report.

1) Our car is about 2-1/2 years old.

2) A few weeks ago, the panel occasionally and intermittently started flashing a warning, "Key battery low." This typically happened when my wife and I were both in the car. However, either of our fobs, by itself, would lock or unlock the door using the buttons on the fob from a distance of about forty feet; was sensed by the car when you approached it and would allow you to unlock the door just by gripping the handle; and would let you start the car.

3) I already had spare CR2032 batteries. I own a GB Instruments GBT-500A Battery Tester which has a lithium coin cell setting. I found a YouTube video that explained how to open the fob and replace the battery.

4) On the tester, fresh batteries gave a reading smack in the center of the green zone between the two O'S in the word GO|OD.

5) The old batteries in both fobs tested about the same. Well within the green zone, but well below the reading from a fresh battery. The needle was below the letter G in the word |GOOD.

6) Although the procedure looked easy, I managed to put the button cell in mine upside down (despite the fob containing the engraved words "+ UP" and experienced a moment of terror when the fob would not unlock the car. I opened the fob again, put the battery in the right way up, and it worked. I did the other fob and put the battery in the right way. Both fobs worked before and they both work now. After replacing the batteries, I have not seen the "key battery low" warning, but since it was intermittent I can't be sure yet that it's gone now.

I haven't changed my own oil in years, but I guess "replacing the key fob battery" is now a do-it-yourself task that car owners need to know how to do.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by serbeer »

Kenkat wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:51 pm The push button start cars go through remote batteries quicker because the remote also has to function as the key, constantly needing to communicate with the car to enable start based on proximity. On regular key cars, the remotes can last a long time. I am on original batteries still for my 2005 Camry, for example. For our 2014 Odyssey with push start, I’ve already replaced the batteries once.
Why do you think it has to be this way? Why does it simply not interrogage the presence of the key when the button is being pressed and before it allows start of the engine? Why does it need to be communicating "constantly"?
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by spectec »

Katietsu wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 10:32 pm
Watty wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:55 pm When you have the buttons on the key fob to lock and unlock the door it is important to still use the metal key occasionally to prevent the lock from getting gummed up and stuck.

It is not uncommon for someone to have their battery go dead only to find that the metal key which has not been used in a long time also will not open the door.
For those of us with a push button start, I guess this would allow us to sit in the car at least. But, am I right to assume that the car would not start?
This probably varies by make and model, but my Ford Edge has instructions in the manual regarding what to do if the battery in the fob gets weak. There is a special location inside the console you can place the key which will enable the car to start. I think this only works with a weak fob battery , not one that is completely dead. (But if this ever happens to me, I will have probably forgotten this information by then.)
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Kenkat »

serbeer wrote: Mon Jul 22, 2019 2:28 pm
Kenkat wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:51 pm The push button start cars go through remote batteries quicker because the remote also has to function as the key, constantly needing to communicate with the car to enable start based on proximity. On regular key cars, the remotes can last a long time. I am on original batteries still for my 2005 Camry, for example. For our 2014 Odyssey with push start, I’ve already replaced the batteries once.
Why do you think it has to be this way? Why does it simply not interrogage the presence of the key when the button is being pressed and before it allows start of the engine? Why does it need to be communicating "constantly"?
In order for the car to interrogate the presence of the key, the fob has to be listening for the question and be able to respond when appropriate. Listening for the car to ask it’s question takes power, even if no response is needed.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by G12 »

Electron wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:27 pm
I almost never use the buttons and was surprised yesterday when neither key would open the trunk or lock the doors. What kind of battery life would you expect when not even using the electronic features?
I replace ours about every 18 months, but they get a good deal of use and don't want to have any issue on the road. The signal seems to start to delay over time whether it is the primary or backup fob.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Electron »

nisiprius wrote: Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:13 amI already had spare CR2032 batteries. I own a GB Instruments GBT-500A Battery Tester which has a lithium coin cell setting.
The GBT-500A looks like a good test for the CR2032 and similar batteries. The manual shows a 1 milliamp load for the 3 volt range. A Digital Multimeter without any loading has not been a useful test for these types of batteries from my experience.

It looks like there are two different types of transponders associated with car keys. Since late 1998, car keys have incorporated a chip that works with the Engine Immobiliser. There is no battery involved and the chip receives power with RFID technology in the area of the ignition switch. Valet keys also incorporate the chip which is contained in the plastic body of the key.

The other type of transponder is associated with smart keys. This transponder must operate continuously so that the car can sense proximity of the device.

It's not surprising that replacement car keys have become very expensive as there is a lot of technology involved. There is another interesting discussion related to tire pressure sensors which also contain a battery. I've read about different techniques used to minimize the current drain in those devices.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by fsrph »

I replaced my 2010 Forester's remote battery for the first time a few weeks ago. It still worked but many times I had to press it several times before working.

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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by bertilak »

I was surprised a few days ago when a message popped up on my car's screen saying the battery in my key fob needed replacing. It's a 2032. The car is only 2 years old.

It's cheap enough so I simply replaced it but I wonder if all the new capabilities run the battery down faster. My last car could not sense the presence of the key fob. The current one can, allowing for some keyless convenience features. I wonder if that puts a constant, low-level, drain on the battery, announcing to the car "Pay attention! Here I am!"
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by neilpilot »

bertilak wrote: Wed Jul 24, 2019 6:09 pm I was surprised a few days ago when a message popped up on my car's screen saying the battery in my key fob needed replacing. It's a 2032. The car is only 2 years old.

It's cheap enough so I simply replaced it but I wonder if all the new capabilities run the battery down faster. My last car could not sense the presence of the key fob. The current one can, allowing for some keyless convenience features. I wonder if that puts a constant, low-level, drain on the battery, announcing to the car "Pay attention! Here I am!"
That's exactly what several earlier posts have tried to explain, i.e. that the newer fobs that transmit to allow keyless entry are transponders that are constantly active. As I posted earlier, my manual indicates how to put the spare fob to sleep to switch that active transmission off and thereby prevent the battery from discharging.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by bertilak »

neilpilot wrote: Wed Jul 24, 2019 6:58 pm
bertilak wrote: Wed Jul 24, 2019 6:09 pm I was surprised a few days ago when a message popped up on my car's screen saying the battery in my key fob needed replacing. It's a 2032. The car is only 2 years old.

It's cheap enough so I simply replaced it but I wonder if all the new capabilities run the battery down faster. My last car could not sense the presence of the key fob. The current one can, allowing for some keyless convenience features. I wonder if that puts a constant, low-level, drain on the battery, announcing to the car "Pay attention! Here I am!"
That's exactly what several earlier posts have tried to explain, i.e. that the newer fobs that transmit to allow keyless entry are transponders that are constantly active. As I posted earlier, my manual indicates how to put the spare fob to sleep to switch that active transmission off and thereby prevent the battery from discharging.
AHA! I'll look into that.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Electron »

I just noticed that my car manual has information on battery life for the Smart Key.

"The standard battery life is 1 to 2 years." The statement is in a section called Key Information. Battery life is not provided for the Standard Key.

Car manuals today are a bit overwhelming. My manual has a total of 568 pages.
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Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by 3-20Characters »

I don’t know about the latest smart keys but my 2010 Honda original key batteries are still good. They are simple 2 button keys for lock, unlock, and turn off alarm. I rotate the 2 sets of keys and the only time one didn’t work was due to it sitting for a very long time (negligence on my part). I used the manual key to unlock the door and it seemed to recharge itself (from being in the ignition?). I don’t see any reason to worry about it since I can use the manual key but maybe 10 years is a good time to replace the batteries.

Someone mentioned that the icons in the buttons have rubbed off. I colored my lock button red and unlock button green with sharpies and put a cut out of clear tape over that. Easier to read than the little white lock/unlock icons and it doesn’t wear off. Works great.
Dilbydog
Posts: 98
Joined: Mon May 23, 2016 10:17 pm

Re: Standard Car Key Battery Life for Late Model Vehicles

Post by Dilbydog »

serbeer wrote: Mon Jul 22, 2019 2:28 pm
Kenkat wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:51 pm The push button start cars go through remote batteries quicker because the remote also has to function as the key, constantly needing to communicate with the car to enable start based on proximity. On regular key cars, the remotes can last a long time. I am on original batteries still for my 2005 Camry, for example. For our 2014 Odyssey with push start, I’ve already replaced the batteries once.
Why do you think it has to be this way? Why does it simply not interrogage the presence of the key when the button is being pressed and before it allows start of the engine? Why does it need to be communicating "constantly"?
My vehicle manufacturer, and local Indy, have told me the proximity keys should be kept a fair distance from the vehicle in question when parked. I.E. don’t hang the keys on a hook in the garage, if the vehicle is garage kept. Once the vehicle no longer detects the fob, 10 minutes or so according to the “SME” the vehicle enters a low power or sleep mode, and no longer attempts to maintain a handshake with the fob. The fob is no longer in constant communication with the vehicle which limits the drain. I don’t know if the above is BS, however antidotally my fob batteries initially died around 3 years, since implementing the “keep the fob away from the car” plan, the replacement batteries are going on 6+ years.
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