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New fangled key fob
Old 08-06-2014, 01:01 PM   #1
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New fangled key fob

We recently bought a new car, and the key is the fob, and the fob is the key:



So, is the concept of the spare key dead? I've always had a spare key hidden with a magnet thing somewhere in the bowels of the car, just in case. I rarely used it, but boy was it a lifesaver. I think it's a plot by the auto manufacturers to get you to buy OnStar or something similar. I really don't want to put the spare fob underneath my car, and I'm guessing these suckers are expensive anyway. Anyone else dealt with this? The older I get, the more likely it is that I'll need this, probably when I most need to find a restroom.
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:26 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by SumDay View Post
We recently bought a new car, and the key is the fob, and the fob is the key:



So, is the concept of the spare key dead? I've always had a spare key hidden with a magnet thing somewhere in the bowels of the car, just in case. I rarely used it, but boy was it a lifesaver. I think it's a plot by the auto manufacturers to get you to buy OnStar or something similar. I really don't want to put the spare fob underneath my car, and I'm guessing these suckers are expensive anyway. Anyone else dealt with this? The older I get, the more likely it is that I'll need this, probably when I most need to find a restroom.
The fob works independent of the key (mine does, so I assume they all do). You could put the key in the magnetic box and hide it and keep the fob with you.
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:50 PM   #3
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Assuming your key fob works like the one my car has:

The fob slides apart and has a proper key, to be given to valets.

If you want to purchase a duplicate fob, they can be had much more cheaply on eBay than from the dealer.

What's the long metal piece? An antenna?
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Old 08-06-2014, 02:07 PM   #4
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I have a 2012 Toyota Rav4 which has a fob with NO key. The fob is the key and I hate it. I went to a lock smith to see about some way to hide the extra fob on the car but you can't. If the fob is on the car it won't lock. I will never again buy a car with no key.
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Old 08-06-2014, 02:19 PM   #5
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Sounds like there are a number of fob/key options. Mine is for the button starter, so key is needed to open the car if the battery in the fob dies…like it did this weekend and I forgot how it all works and had to take DH's fob and drive down to the dealer and get another lesson.

My key looks exactly like the one in the picture and is used to pop off the cover on the door handle which exposes the keyhole. This weird looking thingy actually fits in the keyhole and opens the door. If battery in fob has died, you can still start the car by holding the fob to the start button.

The key is also used to lock the glove box and you keep the key while giving the fob to the valet if you're dumb brave enough to leave valuables in your car.
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Old 08-06-2014, 02:22 PM   #6
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The long metal piece is THE key, that you put in the steering column to start the car. It flips down, and stores inside the fob.

I just called the dealership, and he's as perplexed as I am. They have a $9,000 machine on order so he can laser cut these keys. He told me to call around to see if a locksmith already had the machine.

A new fob & key are $75. I'm tellin' ya, they want you to buy OnStar.
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Old 08-06-2014, 03:14 PM   #7
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Looks like I got on a rental Jetta. The key is a "switchblade" that pops out when released?

Sumday, how does Onstar help with the key/fob issue. I'm confused how the two work together. Thanks.

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Old 08-06-2014, 03:18 PM   #8
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While remotes can be nice, this whole key-fob thing has gotten out of hand, and has turned the simple into the complex.

DD's Altima has one of these things. We had to read the manual just to find out how to put the car in the equivalent of the 'Accessory' position (with fob nearby, push the 'start' button without pushing on the brake - not really obvious).


When we dropped her off at school, we couldn't lock the car. It just would not lock! What to do! She figured it out - the spare fob was in her suitcase in the car, so the car wouldn't allow itself to be locked with a fob inside. Now what if she wasn't there and another driver is trying to lock the car and had no idea a spare fob was in the vehicle?

And these things aren't that easy to figure out without spending some time with the vehicle - it's a pain, IMO.

I also liked to keep a slim spare key in my wallet. Not really possible to do that with most of these anymore (if you can get a key, it's got a big handle with a chip in it). I used to shake my head in the old days when someone would get all flustered about locking their keys in the car and having to spend $$$ for a locksmith. I'd always say 'ummm, why can't you just use the spare key in your wallet?'. That seemed so obvious, yet few people did it.

And then there is the law of unintended consequences of these 'improved' locks - I've been told that this is why you hear of car-jacking today. They can't easily unlock the car, so they hi-jack the driver and the car. Not good.

-ERD50
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Old 08-06-2014, 04:30 PM   #9
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Sumday, how does Onstar help with the key/fob issue. I'm confused how the two work together. Thanks.
If you pay OnStar copious amounts of money, when you lock your keys out of the car, they can remotely let you in with a simple push of a button. Poof, spare key problem solved.
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:13 PM   #10
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During the 4.5 years that I've had my car I haven't locked myself out due to not having the key fob, since the key fob is in my purse and never leaves it. I always have my purse with me when I am driving.

If I ever locked myself out somehow, I'd call Frank or a cab and get a ride home. There, in a particular drawer, is my spare key fob.

This really has been a complete non-problem for me.

Which is not to say that there aren't other hideous problems with all the electronics on newer cars. But so far, that has not been one of them, for me.
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:31 PM   #11
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My question is can AAA drivers still open car doors with slim jims? One time when I locked my self out of rental I called AAA and he had the door open in 20 seconds.
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:42 PM   #12
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My question is can AAA drivers still open car doors with slim jims? One time when I locked my self out of rental I called AAA and he had the door open in 20 seconds.
Oh, forget the slim-jim. I spent time working in Alaska; there, folks keep their cars running idling in parking lots where they can't plug in the oilpan heater in the winter. Twice in two days, I locked myself out of my running rental vehicle; the base policeman came with a gizmo I can only describe as an air bladder with a bulb pump. He jammed the bladder between door and frame, and pumped enough air into it with the bulb to make a gap I could pass my flat hand through to unlock the car. 'Bout 20 seconds.

Let's discuss the bladder-bulb thing, and leave alone how I required its service twice...
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:49 PM   #13
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I must admit I love, love, love the fobs with no key. It is impossible to lock it inside the car (which in the old days I had occasionally done with a key). I guess I could lose the fob and then wouldn't be able to get in the car, but then I would call DH to get the spare fob and come find me.

To me, the keyless fob entirely prevents locking a key in the car which for me was always the greater risk. So, I love mine. YMMV.....
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Old 08-06-2014, 08:29 PM   #14
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Like W2R, I've never had a problem with/using a key fob, been using one since 2001. I do know the password for my entry keypad too. I'm amazed at all the different things you can do with a fob now. My first fob was a key sticking out one end and lock and unlock buttons on the other end. The next fob was the same as the first but there was an alarm button. By 2010 the key was inside the fob and I had pushbutton start. You still had to have the fob on you. The fob locked and unlocked the doors, an alarm button and opened the trunk. Just got a new car on Saturday with pushbutton start. The fob is now called a transmitter fob and has a key inside the fob. The fob locks/unlocks the doors, has remote start and stop, an alarm, opens the trunk and remotely puts the top down. If the battery gets low in the transmitter or there is interference, you can insert it into the steering column to start the car. We've never stored spare keys on the car and if we take a trip each of us carries keys/fobs for all vehicles and trailer. This can sometimes be a big pile of keys/fobs. lol
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Old 08-07-2014, 09:53 AM   #15
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While remotes can be nice, this whole key-fob thing has gotten out of hand, and has turned the simple into the complex.

DD's Altima has one of these things. We had to read the manual just to find out how to put the car in the equivalent of the 'Accessory' position (with fob nearby, push the 'start' button without pushing on the brake - not really obvious).


When we dropped her off at school, we couldn't lock the car. It just would not lock! What to do! She figured it out - the spare fob was in her suitcase in the car, so the car wouldn't allow itself to be locked with a fob inside. Now what if she wasn't there and another driver is trying to lock the car and had no idea a spare fob was in the vehicle?

And these things aren't that easy to figure out without spending some time with the vehicle - it's a pain, IMO.

I also liked to keep a slim spare key in my wallet. Not really possible to do that with most of these anymore (if you can get a key, it's got a big handle with a chip in it). I used to shake my head in the old days when someone would get all flustered about locking their keys in the car and having to spend $$$ for a locksmith. I'd always say 'ummm, why can't you just use the spare key in your wallet?'. That seemed so obvious, yet few people did it.

And then there is the law of unintended consequences of these 'improved' locks - I've been told that this is why you hear of car-jacking today. They can't easily unlock the car, so they hi-jack the driver and the car. Not good.

-ERD50
IMHO- Biggest downside of the new fobs is the EXPENSE of a replacement. Lose or destroy one (like getting it soaked in the rain ) and it's $75-300+ for a new one. I do not see reading a car owner's manual as a downside. Just might learn 'bout other neat features you never knew your vehicle had.

OTOH- There is a real upside in convenience. My remote fobs allow opening the door or trunk without taking the fob out of my pocket. Just touch the door (or trunk) button & it opens. And I've been saved more than once when my car would not lock 'cause I had unknowingly left the fob still in the car. In the old days I'd been calling a cab

I would NOT trust going EBAY (or other on-line vendors) to buy a new fob!!!! Many of the newer fobs can only be programmed ONCE to a single vehicle and cannot be reprogrammed. Just like an old style key cannot be recut to fit a diff lock. There are many reports of unreliable sellers on EBay (and elsewhere) who will sell useless programmed (stolen?) fobs as "blanks", then refuse adjustment/refund claiming the buyer mis-programmed it. Even with a truly blank new fob, only some vehicles allow user programming and that typically requires a 2nd working fob (for obvious security reasons). Screw up the programming process and you have an expensive paperweight. Other fobs require dealer equipment to program correctly. When my mother's fob died recently, getting a new one from the dealer "only" cost $200 vs $145 (unprogrammed) on EBay.

BTW- There are only a few basic fob systems used amongst all the bigger auto makers. Activating the 'accessory' mode by pushing the dash button with foot off the brake is common.

Never been a big fan of the 'spare car key in the wallet' trick or 'hidden key on the car'. Robbers have known 'bout those since before I learned to drive.
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Old 08-07-2014, 10:23 AM   #16
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3/15/2020, New York: In a move expected to revolutionize automobiles, car manufacturers today came out with a new device called a "key." This device has no movable or electronic parts, and can be duplicated at any hardware store in the world for under two dollars. The device is small enough to fit in a wallet, and a spare copy can be hidden in your car in case you lose your current "key." The devices do not need batteries, and will last for hundreds of years.

"This new device takes advantage of proven technology that has been developed over the course of 2,500 years," said Toyota head Akio Toyoda, "It is almost indestructible. You can drop it, stomp on it, even drive over it, and it retains full functionality."

Some consumers have been horrified to learn that they have to actually take the units out of their pockets to use them, and stick them in a hole in the car, but in general, the population is flocking to this clever new innovation. Experts expect that within the next five years, all cars will use "keys."
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Old 08-07-2014, 10:38 AM   #17
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As one of the resident dinosaurs on the forum, I adapt very slowly to the newer technology. Two of my 3 (used) cars now have rudimentary "fobs". They open or lock the doors/trunk, but have little to do with starting the car or enabling start. The exception is the car which, if opened with only the actual "key" will initiate the car alarm (a beeping horn) if the key is not placed into the ignition within 30 or so seconds. Naturally, that's the fob (the only one I got when I bought the used car) which fell 10 stories to its death recently. No real problem. I just have to remember to take the key which also opens the trunk AND if that's all I open, I must ALSO open the car door and kill the alarm within 30 seconds. A pain, but for a $1000 car, it beats trying to buy a new fob for $300. I drive my cars until they are good only for junk, so this minor inconvenience is just another part of the car's legend. I do NOT look forward to the time in the future when even the used cars I buy will be even more dependent on electronics (I have no interest in GPS, Onstar or equivalent, blue tooth, screens of any kind, back-up camera - well, maybe back-up camera, keypad entry, fob-only entry, push-button starting, etc. etc.) I'd be just as happy with crank windows as well. Electric windows are either broken or about to break in my experience.

I actually think I'm "with it" enough to adapt to new things but I foresee a time when the sheer number of new things could be daunting to an older person (which, if I'm not, I will be soon - assuming I live that long.) Naturally, YMMV.
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Old 08-07-2014, 11:49 AM   #18
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Many years ago, one trick was to put the key inside the taillight or blinker lens. If you lost your key, all you needed was a screwdriver or a rock. That doesn't work with newer cars.

The spare keys hidden on our cars are so well hidden that knowing they're there doesn't help you find them. Twice Lena's had to call home so that I can describe where the key is, and once I had to go there.

Wrap the key in a cloth soaked in WD-40, cover the entire thing in duct tape, and use wire to put it where the sun don't shine.

Extra points for using both WD-40 and duct tape.

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Old 08-07-2014, 12:54 PM   #19
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... I guess I could lose the fob and then wouldn't be able to get in the car, but then I would call DH to get the spare fob and come find me. .....
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.... If I ever locked myself out somehow, I'd call Frank ....
Gloria Steinem would be so proud!




OK, seriously... Sure, the remotes are handy. The problem is they don't all act the same, so it's perplexing going from one car to another, and sometimes that complexity/confusion leads to problems.

And due to the expense and size, it isn't practical for a man (we don't normally carry purses) to carry a spare. And as mentioned, losing one is an expensive proposition.

I'm not certain if our cars would actually prevent us from accidentally locking the fob/key/remote in the car or not (I don't think so). I don't plan to test it, as I may not consider every possibility anyhow, and I might give myself a false sense of security. I have forced myself to get in the habit of locking the cars with the key or remote from outside the car, and never lock the car with the inside lock buttons.

That still doesn't help if I lose it, and can't carry a spare in my wallet. My compromise is to keep my key on one keychain, and my remote on another. I'm at least far less likely to lose both at the same time. For the combined fob on the Honda, we would need to buy a couple spares I guess.

Summary - fobs can be great, the lack of a slim, cheap key for a man to carry in his wallet is a negative. That may or may not be important to any one individual, but it is a negative.

-ERD50
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Old 08-07-2014, 01:02 PM   #20
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Gloria Steinem would be so proud!

Would it make you feel any better to know that he would call me, too, were the situations reversed? I suppose we rely on each other for a lot of things.

Neither of us has lost our key fob ever, but I don't see why someone who did wouldn't call a spouse or SO before calling a cab.
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