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Old 27th December 2012, 14:25   #1
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Default How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

Yesterday one of my cousins accidentally dropped his i20's remote key on the ground. While it didn't seem to affect the operations or anything, I started to wonder about what can possibly happen if an OEM remote key is dropped on the ground. How complicated are its electronics/internals? Can a simple fall mess up the internals big time and require a replacement from the OEM? I ask this out of curiosity. Some cars' remotes come with rolling code for immobilizers, and getting a replacement remote is a big ordeal with the OEM and costs hefty amounts.

Have any of you faced an issue where you dropped the remote on the ground accidentally and it failed to work? How should someone deal with this situation if that happens?

It would also help if some technical experts can dissect a car's remote internals and explain how it works, for curious newbies.

I didn't find any relevant thread so I created one. In case the moderators want to merge it into an existing thread, please do so.
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Old 27th December 2012, 14:47   #2
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Default re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

My figo has got rubberized key with soft plastic buttons built in. I have dropped it N number of times from considerable heights, but nothing has really happened till now, touch wood.

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Copying relevant text from our official review:

Quote:
Long key. Boot release button too. These type of soft-plastic buttons break after 2+ years of use (based on my experience of using a similar key in the Benz). Dedicated hard plastic buttons are better on durability:
Quite contrary to what has been stated in the review, I have seen Toyota Keys go bad very soon. They are made of hard plastic and would definitely give away if you drop it from a considerable height.

Last edited by Warwithwheels : 27th December 2012 at 14:57.
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Old 27th December 2012, 16:48   #3
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Default re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

I don’t have too technical information on the topic but would like to share my experience here.

I once dropped my swift's key from a considerable height and the remote stopped working. For some days i was using the spare key and one good thing with Maruthi is both the key's has the remote.

Did not get any help from MASS for fixing the key, they simply changed the battery and it did not work. They advised me to get it fixed from NIPPON itself as they don’t have any idea of the problem. Somehow i got hold of a guy from NIPPON who fixed it in 10 minutes; actually it did not work due to some connection failure in the chip inside. Was not charged also as the car was still under Warranty.

Last edited by BulZire : 27th December 2012 at 17:00.
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Old 27th December 2012, 17:09   #4
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Default re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KarthikK View Post
Yesterday one of my cousins accidentally dropped his i20's remote key on the ground. While it didn't seem to affect the operations or anything, I started to wonder about what can possibly happen if an OEM remote key is dropped on the ground. How complicated are its electronics/internals? Can a simple fall mess up the internals big time and require a replacement from the OEM? I ask this out of curiosity. Some cars' remotes come with rolling code for immobilizers, and getting a replacement remote is a big ordeal with the OEM and costs hefty amounts.

Have any of you faced an issue where you dropped the remote on the ground accidentally and it failed to work? How should someone deal with this situation if that happens?

It would also help if some technical experts can dissect a car's remote internals and explain how it works, for curious newbies.

I didn't find any relevant thread so I created one. In case the moderators want to merge it into an existing thread, please do so.
Let me clear your curosity,about Linea's desmodronic foldable flip key.
I have dropped it quite a few times due to negligence,and it still works fine.Also i dropped my Ex Accents normal remote key quite a few times,to an extent,that remote split open after the fall,and it still worked,after putting it together.
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Old 27th December 2012, 17:25   #5
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Default re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

The car key has basically 3 parts:
1. Mechanical key blade
2. PCB for Remote keyless entry (RKE)
3. Plastic housing

The mechanical key blade is only for unlocking the steering column lock, the PCB is basically a RF transmitter, based on the button pressed, it sends a corresponding signal to the car (on radio frequency), to either lock, unlock or open the trunk.

The combination of key press can be configured by the OEMs for other functionality as well, for example, press the lock and unlock button together for more than 3 secs, starts the vehicle search function.

In some cars there is no PCB (printed circuit board), but just a small chip known as transponder. This chip is moulded in plastic housing.

In cars, which have only the transponder chip, and no PCB, the remote keyless entry functionality is not possible.

All the OEMS usually do extensive testing on keys (when they have PCB or transponder in them). These tests include drop tests, salt spray tests, temperature endurance tests, water tightness tests etc.

The third party remote keys like autocop usually do not have such stringent quality measures in place.

So, when you drop your key accidentally, you need not worry, unless you are dropping it off in some HUNDI.
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Old 27th December 2012, 18:08   #6
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Default re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warwithwheels View Post



Quite contrary to what has been stated in the review, I have seen Toyota Keys go bad very soon. They are made of hard plastic and would definitely give away if you drop it from a considerable height.
That is exactly what I wanted to say, but you've beaten me to it. My Fiesta's remote is as good as it was 6 years ago. Even the battery is the same. I wonder why the reviewer said that such keys are prone to breaking.

When the car was new, the remote key also went into a bucket of soaking clothes, in the pant pocket. I discovered it in a few minutes, and there was no damage at all ! It still works like a charm.


While on this subject, my friend's i-20 key broke from the remote when he was shopping, and I had to take the duplicate to him to enable him to start the car. Instead of going for a costly set, he got another key made by a local expert for around 400 INR.

Last edited by vnabhi : 27th December 2012 at 18:10.
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Old 27th December 2012, 18:23   #7
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Default re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vnabhi View Post
When the car was new, the remote key also went into a bucket of soaking clothes, in the pant pocket. I discovered it in a few minutes, and there was no damage at all ! It still works like a charm.


While on this subject, my friend's i-20 key broke from the remote when he was shopping, and I had to take the duplicate to him to enable him to start the car. Instead of going for a costly set, he got another key made by a local expert for around 400 INR.
My Chevvy Optra's key has been dropped countless number of times in the last 5 years and it works a beautifully as it worked when I got it in April 2007.

So also my Punto's key has been dropped occasionally but never stopped working. However, a few months ago it disappeared and I found it among the clothes that came out of our washing machine. After that everytime I go near the car it would lock-unlock itself erratically, so much so that I couldn't leave the key in for fear of getting locked out The battery had leaked and the PC board had short circuited. It will cost me Rs.6500 to fix it. I'm wondering if it is worth it, unless I plan to sell it
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Old 27th December 2012, 19:21   #8
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Default Re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

In my experience there are multiple types of keys. Some are well molded with soft rubber making them better equipped to handle shocks, then there are others which are pure hard plastic, which sometime come apart when they hit the ground. In both these cases my experiences have been that they run flawlessly for years together.

For example my Baleno keys (Nippon) are hard plastic and they have come apart many times. All i need to do is put it back together with battery and it starts working again.
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Old 28th December 2012, 12:33   #9
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Default Re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

Okk ,I have a query.. May be the functioning of the key wont stop but does the maximum distance between the car and the key required for the functioning of the key reduce if it falls down numerous times. For eg if I can lock/unlock the car from max 50 feet away then does this distance reduce if the key is damaged or falls down often???
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Old 28th December 2012, 17:16   #10
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Default Re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MihirC View Post
Okk ,I have a query.. May be the functioning of the key wont stop but does the maximum distance between the car and the key required for the functioning of the key reduce if it falls down numerous times. For eg if I can lock/unlock the car from max 50 feet away then does this distance reduce if the key is damaged or falls down often???
This distance depends on the battey charge. If the battery charge is low, then RF transmitter in the Key won't have enough power, to send out out a strong RF signal.

The RF receiver in the car needs the RF signal coming in from the key, to be above a certain threshold, for operation (locking / unlocking of the doors etc)

With a weak battery, the RF signal from the key gets weaker, hence, you will notice that you need to go nearer to the car for remote operation.

In simple words, this whole thing is like operating a TV remote, with old or drained batteries.

Key falling down often, has no influence on the operating range.
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Old 28th December 2012, 17:24   #11
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Default Re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

I have also heard about Toyota keys failing fast. What I did also hear was that they were giving two or three keys with the remote. Maybe they know what is up! Another recall of keys!?
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Old 28th December 2012, 17:54   #12
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Default Re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

Exterior damage will pile up over a period of time due to dropping the key. But internally, it is nothing but a PCB. Unless one slams the PCB itself, its functioning wont be hampered. Even the immobiliser chip is a solid state device, and unless it is burnt or beaten into pieces, the immobiliser will be working. However, one must be careful about liquid damage. It can screw up the remote, if not the immobiliser.
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Old 28th December 2012, 18:25   #13
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Default Re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

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Originally Posted by sgiitk View Post
Another recall of keys!?
Its high time they do it.

Our Innova V (Top end), came with 2 remote embedded Keys and one master key (that's how the gentlemen at the dealership call the manual key).

I even vaguely remember that one of the remote embedded keys were replaced FOC within the warranty period. Those guys at Toyota were kind enough to door deliver the key and also sent their technician to "teach" the key/ECU.

Last edited by Warwithwheels : 28th December 2012 at 18:27.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 15:39   #14
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Default Re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

Another question - what if the remote key in question is a smart key? Some models like the i20, etc have that finger press sensor on the doors, or start/stop button, where the key just needs to be in the pocket and not necessarily inserted into the keyslot.

Do these smart keys carry any additional circuitry apart from RF transmitters and immobilizer code chips? Assuming they should, how much more prone to failure are these smart keys?

What happens if I drop the smart key some N number of times, will I be able to start/unlock the car if that particular equipment fails inside?

Last edited by KarthikK : 2nd January 2013 at 15:40.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 16:20   #15
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Default Re: How durable are the remote keys of our cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Warwithwheels View Post
My figo has got rubberized key with soft plastic buttons built in. I have dropped it N number of times from considerable heights, but nothing has really happened till now, touch wood.

Attachment 1031500

Copying relevant text from our official review:



Quite contrary to what has been stated in the review, I have seen Toyota Keys go bad very soon. They are made of hard plastic and would definitely give away if you drop it from a considerable height.
Might sound like a broken record since vnabhi states the same, but even my Figo's keys are as good as they were two years ago & seem they will last for at least the next 5 years (with the current usage pattern). Maybe this time, what glittered was actually gold

Smart key might be more fragile (due to the nature) but I will reserve my comment till experts chip in.
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