Smart Key Repair

BEFORE: Missing lock button and non-operational
AFTER: Panic button swapped with lock button and corrosion repaired. Fully functional except for panic button.

Why did it break?

Sometimes smart keys just stop working. The most common reason is that the battery has gone dead, so try that first, but if that’s not the reason your smart key isn’t working, we may be able to fix your old key so you don’t need to buy a new one. Also, on some cars it’s very difficult to make a new key without a fully functional existing key, and you can save a lot of money by repairing an old key so it can be used to make a new key. Plus you end up with two working keys instead of just one.

The two main smart key killers are water and broken cases. Broken cases often allow water and all sorts of other debris to enter the shell and short out the electronics, or worse. If water stays on the circuit board for long enough, it can cause corrosion, and corrosion can eat away at pins and small connectors in the board called “via”s.

Broken buttons are another common issue, especially when people keep using a key with a damaged shell. Broken buttons can be de-soldered and new buttons can be soldered in their place. We’ll often remove the seldom-used panic button and replace damaged or missing buttons with it as a low-cost fix.

Will we be able to repair your smart key?

Maybe. If it’s a button, that’s easy. We can swap your broken lock or unlock button with the panic button or install new buttons. Water damage? Salt water causes a lot of damage, especially if it’s not cleaned immediately, so if your key fell in the ocean, it may be dead forever. I have successfully fixed keys that have been through the washing machine, but I can’t always. The only way to find out if your key can be fixed is to take the key apart and take a look.

What if you can’t fix it?

Generally we’ll have an “if we fix it price” and a “can’t fix it” price, but it depends. Sometimes I’ll open a key and it’s obviously destroyed. It only takes me a few minutes and there’s no charge for that sort of thing. Other times I might find problems: a rotted via, or a stuck button, or a broken solder, and I’ll spend time trying to fix it, later to discover there are also other not-so-easily fixed issues. In these cases, there will be a small charge, but we’ll discuss this with you before we begin.

Our goal is to provide a repair option that makes sense. If we can figure out how to make your key work for a price that’s a good value, we both win. If repairing the key doesn’t make sense, we’ll recommend a new key instead.

Note about “non-serviceable” keys

Some keys cannot be disassembled. The shell must be broken to remove the circuit board. Of course we have new shells in stock, but if your key turns out to be broken beyond repair, you won’t have a “whole” key after the repair attempt unless you buy a new shell. If your key is this type we’ll talk about this before starting and you’ll need to decide if you’re OK with that.

If we can’t repair your smart key, we’ll likely have a new key in stock, so you can usually still get your car done on the same day. We’ll talk about pricing an you can make a decision.

Will my key look like new?

After your smart key is successfully repaired, we’ll install the circuit board in a new case (unless yours is still in good shape). Most of the time new cases aren’t available from the dealership, so often we use aftermarket cases. Some aftermarket cases will look exactly like the original. Others will be missing the branding and emblems. Aftermarket cases frequently need fitting and cannot be installed as-is, but we’re familiar with what to check and correct before installation. If you plan to do your own case, feel free to ask us for advice before you start. We can alert you to any pitfalls that can lead to damage or a non-working key.

A selection of shells for smart key repair

How do I replace my smart key battery?

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to replace the smart key battery, swing by and we’ll help you. There’s no charge for labor and we have the batteries in stock. Already have a battery? No worries, we’ll still help you out, no charge.

If you’re not nearby, Google and YouTube have your answer. Just search something like, “how do I replace my 2016 prius smart key battery”. In that example the first result is a short video showing the process. There are so many types of smart keys

Other articles about keys:

What to do if you lose all of your car keys

Early Toyota immobilizer reset

Automotive locksmith

Smart key replacement