6 Reasons Your Car Key Isn’t Working

You are in the parking lot and are trying to open your vehicle’s door and it simply won’t.  Here are some of the reasons why that can happen:

Damaged Lock

Two main parts of a car door lock are the cylinder and assembly.  If you insert the key and it turns but the car still won’t open, it is the assembly.  If you use a key fob but the key will not open that same door, it is the cylinder.  There can also be something in the hole in which the key inserts, like dirt or ice.  If you have been in a recent collision, the impact may have caused some damage.

Damaged Key

Key damage is not always apparent.  Although it is not broken in half or split into pieces, consistent use can wear down.  If that is the case, you will need to locate the key code and have a brand new key cut.  Duplicating the one you have will only result in a second key that will not work.

Ignition Cylinder

If your key will open the car door but won’t start the engine or if the immobilizer indicator light is on, you could have a faulty ignition cylinder.  In this case, you will need an automotive locksmith.  This expert will be able to determine if the cylinder is repairable or if you need to have it replaced.


Your key fob is powered by batteries.  If you notice that your fob works some times but not others, you need to press the button multiple times, or it no longer works from the distance it used to, then you need to replace the batteries.  Don’t wait for them to die completely.

 Your owner’s manual or online services can show you how easy it is to replace the batteries, which can be found at most hardware stores, automotive dealers, or some big box stores.

Internal Damage

A key fob works by communication between a transmitter and a receiver.  If one of these is damaged, the apparatus won’t work.  The damage can come from frayed wires or external damage to the fob or the car.  It could be as simple as having dropped the fob and a component is out of alignment.

Electronic keys have internal components that can also wear out.  If you notice that the car will unlock with the remote but not the lock, there could be a problem.

Replacement Keys/Fobs

If you have recently had the key replaced or purchased a duplicate, a key and key fob must be programmed to communicate with the vehicle.  If your car battery has been replaced and you find that previously fine fobs and remotes worked, it is probably part of the security issues in modern cars.  In this case, you will need to get a reputable automotive locksmith to reprogram. The same is true with an aftermarket key. 

Car keys are part of our daily life and when they do not function properly it is very frustrating.  This post should give you some ideas of why keys and fobs are not working as they should and how you can go about remedying the situation.  If you are unsure, check with an automotive locksmith to be sure.

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