what does a key fob mean (2)

What Does A Key Fob Mean?

A security key fob is a wireless remote control device nearly identical to those clickers you get with your car. They perform the same function. The wireless remote for your car locks and unlocks the car doors and initialises the built-in security system. It also includes a panic button that blares the horn and flashes the headlights and taillights.

The wireless remote, or key fob, for your home security system arms and disarms the security system in your home. It also includes a panic button that sounds an alarm, which causes the monitoring company to be notified that a security breach or other home emergency is in progress.

But they’re not just for when you exit and enter your home. Seconds count in emergencies, and having a wireless key fob nearby while you’re inside your home can make a big difference for you and your family.

Placing your wireless remote on your nightstand, as an example, allows you to arm the security system when you go to bed each night, helping ensure your family and house are being protected while everyone sleeps.

Most home security systems allow for multiple fobs to be programmed into the system up to eight in many instances. In addition to being able to keep them in handy places around your home, you’ll be able to provide them to specific individuals, including older children, an elderly family member, or a trusted neighbour, all with the convenience of not having to divulge the passcode for your system.

Modern technology means convenience in many instances, and when it comes to home security technology, key fobs are the resulting component. Please use our System Finder tool to find a security system designed with your needs in mind?

A key fob is a small device that provides access to physical objects. In general, the term also refers to any decorative item a person carries with their keys, like small trinkets or souvenirs, bottle openers and even USB drives. In the automotive industry, a key fob is mainly a tiny device with buttons that unlock/lock the vehicle’s doors. 

A key fob is a primary device used in keyless entry systems. It contains a short-range radio transmitter, which sends a distinct coded signal to a receiver unit in the car when a button on the fob is pushed. That is a result, unlocks or locks the doors.

In addition to unlocking and locking the door, some key fobs can be used to open the drunk or to start the engine remotely so that the user can sit in a warm car on a cold morning. While a traditional key fob is an addition to the car key itself, the newer version also works as a key. This kind of fob is called a keyless fob.

What Is A Key Fob?

what does a key fob mean

There is no definitive acronym definition for FOB. There are a few theories:

  • The word fob is believed to have originated from watch fobs, which existed as early as 1888. The fob refers to an ornament attached to a pocket-watch chain.
  • The origin of the term “fob” as in “key fob” goes back to either Middle English foppen meaning sneak-proof.
  • Free on Board or Freight on Board (FOB) is a standard retail shipping term used to indicate who is responsible for paying transportation charges.

A key fob is quite possibly the most technologically advanced and essential accessory that can be attached to your keychain. Able to fit in the palm and lock and unlock a vehicle at the touch of a button, key fobs are a massive convenience for car owners.

While the primary function of a key fob is to control the remote-entry system of the vehicle, more advanced devices can control other functions, such as:

  • Starting the vehicle ignition remotely.
  • Disarming and arming the vehicle security system.
  • Popping the latch on the trunk.
  • Activating a panic alarm.
  • Automatic window control.

Solving The Big Security Problem

Security is a big issue for car owners, and car theft is a huge problem across, especially with highly desirable vehicles such as sports cars and high-end SUVs.

Remote keyless entry systems will only allow access to a vehicle if the correct key fob is presented and are an effective deterrent against motor vehicle theft. However, this advanced security can often backfire on owners if they are not careful.

Quite simply, if you don't have your key fob with you, then you will not be granted access to your vehicle. Key fobs offer good reassurance, but they also need to be looked after.

I Lost My Car Keys - What Can I Do?

One of the best things about your key fob is that it is unique to your vehicle. Nobody else's key fob will work with your car, and your key fob will not gain access to anybody else's vehicle.

Each fob operates on its unique code. This is great for security, but not so great if you need a key fob replacement or a spare key fob. Without the right fob, your keyless entry remote will refuse to work - not good when you need to get to work or pick the kids up from school.

If you find yourself in this predicament or want the peace of mind that owning a spare key fob can bring, we can help. We offer local key fob programming and key cutting services and will have you back on the road in no time.

How Much Does A Replacement Key Fob Cost?

The cost of replacing your key fob will largely be determined by the make and model of your vehicle. For example, a car remote for a 2017 Ford Mustang will cost near $100, while a key fob replacement for a 1994 Ford Mustang will cost less than $20.

Key fob technology has evolved through the years, and our prices reflect the many advances in keyless-entry technology while still offering great value for money.

What To Do When Your Key Fob’s Not Working

A faulty key fob is an inconvenience that can throw off your whole schedule. While it may seem far-fetched to think of your fob as needing regular maintenance, your key fob is not something to overlook because when it fails, it can stop you from being able to enter your vehicle at all, let alone start the engine. If you find your key is broken, the first step is to identify the problem and whether it is easier to fix it or replace the key fob entirely. There can be a couple of ways to go about this. Below you will find several tips for dealing with a non-functioning key fob.

Why Key Fobs Stop Working

While it can be a frustrating situation, it is to be expected that any key fob will have issues at some time or another. Luckily, the problems you experience with them can often be simple, so if you find your key fob not working, there are some possibilities you should consider right off the bat.

The most common culprit behind an electric key fob's failure is, as you might guess, the battery. This is a relatively easy issue to fix, although you may need to get a ride to buy a replacement fob battery. Since it is such a common problem, it can be a great idea to keep spare batteries or even a backup key fob on hand somewhere in your home or in a purse or backpack that you travel with frequently.

While a dead essential fob battery should be the first thing to check, there can also be other issues that come up with critical fobs that may require more work to fix. If you determine that you have a more complicated problem, you will need to decide whether it is something worth fixing or if a replacement is a better option.

It would be best to consider that the problem might be with your car itself and not your key fob. You may want to examine the possibility that your car battery has died, which can cause similar issues. Using a spare key fob can be the best way to test whether the problem lies in the key or the vehicle. In some rarer cases, there may be an issue with the locks on your car doors, like maybe the actuator. While less likely, this is still something to keep in mind if, after fixing your key or getting a new one, your remote key still won't unlock the car door.

Replacing Or Repairing Your Key Fob

If changing the battery doesn't do anything to remedy the problem, there are some other steps you can take. One thing to try can be taking the key fob apart and carefully checking to make sure that none of the buttons seems to be out of place or broken. As your key fob likely gets heavy use and spends a lot of time getting jostled around, controls can be broken or stuck and adjusting them may be all you need to do to get your fob working again. You may also take the remote to be professionally examined. It may be that the key needs to be reprogrammed or requires some other form of adjustment.

While you may fix a broken fob, sometimes it is simply easier to replace it. Depending on the make and model of your car, a new fob can cost as low as around $50, though they may be more expensive in some cases and can end up costing you a fair amount. While the cost of replacements can be unfortunate, sometimes it is the best and safest option. You don't want to overly rely on a glitchy key and risk getting stranded somewhere.

What To Do In A Pinch

If you find yourself stuck somewhere away from home without starting your car, the situation can be stressful at best and frightening at worst. While it is never fun to be caught off guard by a critical malfunction, it can be vital that you stay calm and consider your options. Even if you usually use the button to unlock your car, there is often a physical key stored within the fob. At the very least, you should be able to use this to get into your vehicle, even if it won't work for starting your car (though it can begin with certain vehicles).

If you have a vehicle that uses a push-to-start button ignition rather than a turn-key ignition, a key that is not necessarily dead but has a low battery may not be recognised by the vehicle from a distance. You may want to try holding the key right up to the button and attempting to start the car again. Some push-button ignition systems may also have a place to insert the physical key and allow you to create the vehicle, generally between the steering wheel and the infotainment system. These quick fixes can occasionally work in a pinch and enable you to get back home or go to AutoSone to buy a replacement battery or critical fob.

When Does The Essential Fob Battery Need Replacing?

what does a key fob mean (3)

Modern cars are full of electronics, and a key fob is no exception. Inside, it has an electronic chip that works as a transmitter; it transmits the signal when you press the button to open the door. The key fob is powered by a bit of battery. The battery may last for 2-3 years in a smart key fob and 4-6 years in a regular fob with the key. 

This difference is that the smart key fob also has a receiver and has to communicate with the car more often when it's inside or near the vehicle. In most cars, an essential fob battery is not rechargeable and must be replaced once it loses its charge.

What are the signs of a weak fob battery? As the fob battery becomes more vulnerable, the transmitter loses its range. This means that you have to be closer to the car for the fob to work. In vehicles with a push-button start, a vehicle may not always recognise a smart key fob in your pocket or purse if the fob battery is weak. In some vehicles, a warning message "key fob battery low" may also pop up on the driver's display.

Will the car start if the fob battery is weak? In most cars, the security (immobiliser) chip inside the fob works without a battery, only from a very close range. So even if the fob has a weak battery, it should still start the car. You may have to hold the smart fob closer to the "Start" button or insert it into a particular slot to start the engine. Check your owner's manual for directions. A conventional mechanical key might also be stored inside the fob. This key can open the driver's door if the fob battery is dead or if the main battery in a car is discharged.

How can you check the fob battery? In many cars, a key fob has a little LED light that illuminates when pressing any fob buttons. If the LED light doesn't light up, the fob battery is dead, or there is some other problem with the fob. If you already have the fob battery out, you can check its voltage with a voltmeter. The voltage is marked on the battery.

If it's a 3-Volt battery, and it shows less than 3 Volts, it's weak. For example, this 3-Volt battery in the photo shows only 2.8 Volts; it's terrible and must be replaced.

What kind of a battery does a key fob take? Different cars use different batteries. The most common types are CR2025 and CR2032 3-Volt batteries. You can find the exact style in the owner's manual. Storms like this are sold in any electronics store or at a dealership.

Changing the fob battery is not very difficult. Check the owner's manual for the instructions and precautions. There are plenty of Youtube videos on how to do it too. You might need a small flat or Phillips screwdriver. 

For example, to open the key fob in the top photo, we pried it open with a little flat screwdriver in places indicated in the owner's manual. Be careful; the plastic tabs that hold the parts of the fob together break easily. In some cars, there could be some tiny screws or other features that are easy to lose.

When replacing the battery, watch for the way it's installed. One side of the battery is marked with the "+" sign. It's essential to install the new battery the same way, or it won't work.

If you are not mechanically inclined, visit your dealer; they should be able to change the essential fob battery for you. Typically it doesn't take more than a few minutes. We checked with several dealers, and the prices we got were within $10. A key fob doesn't need any programming if only a fob battery is replaced.

Being Prepared For Key Fob Issues

While it is an inconvenient addition to your day, the unfortunate truth can be that no matter how well cared for your key fob is, it may fail at some point or another. Luckily, key fob issues are generally not serious or complicated and can often come down to a simple matter of changing out the battery. More severe cases may be present if you discover you still have problems after fixing or replacing your key fob. 

This can indicate that something else is wrong with your vehicle itself, but this is rare. One of the best ways to prepare yourself and keep key fob issues from catching you off guard can be to have a spare key available. Look into buying a replacement key fob or critical fob batteries today.

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