You may have a key, you may even use it to open the car door, or you could use a key fob or remote to open the door and disarm the security system if equipped. A new car will perform this function flawlessly 99% of the time with 1% falling into a warranty concern. Over time the simple use of the key fob will drain the battery and at first merely affect the range in which the device will work, before finally not working at all. This doesn’t sound like and really shouldn’t be a big deal, unless you wait until it doesn’t work to replace the battery. There is a good chance of you have never used the key in the door it may not work without a little lubrication but I would also like to point out its good to try and periodically use the key in the doors just to prevent the lock and mechanism from becoming frozen. This goes double if the car hasn’t had good service, where an automotive technician would lubricate the locks as part of some scheduled maintenance. Some cars no longer have a place for a key, and if you lose or the battery fails in the keyless entry fob you will be in a frustrating situation. Of course Murphy’s Law will dictate that this happens with a cart full of groceries, both kids and inclement weather. Unless you have experienced this up to now there’s a very good chance you have never given the keyless entry fob a second thought until it stops working properly. Waiting for any battery to fail is a terrible idea, in the home a smoke detector will let you know when the battery has become weak, and there is no such alert system in your car currently. What to take from this is that if you have a remote that’s over 5 years old, it may be a good idea to arbitrarily replace the battery ahead of failure. Make sure you buy a good battery don’t skimp here; I prefer the energizer line of automotive accessory batteries for longevity if available for your application.
Now it’s quite possible that they key fob itself will fail to function over time as well, as the constant pressing of the buttons can and will wear out the contacts. It’s always a good idea to have a second remote, don’t wait for this either as every car manufacturer are famous for discontinuing support for slow moving replacement components. There also may not be an aftermarket solution either if the potential sales numbers do not justify design and production.
One last item on the Key fob or remote if you prefer is that many cars if locked with a keyless fob, and then unlocked with a key will set an alarm, it’s better to know this ahead of time and also know how to disarm the system without the use of the remote. This may be as simple as cycling the key in the ignition three times, but it may be more, especially if it doesn’t have a place for a key, you could look this up in your owner’s manual or use the internet as a source of information.
Some Subaru specific tips; Look for a yellow sticker on your 1995 to 1999 model as these were dealer installed as key less entry as a afterthought for Subaru during this time period, typically on the core support in front of the battery or stuck to the battery cable set, this will help identify if your Subaru is equipped with keyless entry even if you didn’t know you had it. A dead battery and subsequent replacement or jump start could very well cause the lights to flash and an audible click under the dashboard. The way to correct the flashing light would normally be to use the remote and unlock and disarm the system, if you don’t have a remote you can put the key in the ignition turn the key to the run position and look for the valet switch which was to be mounted by the installing technician just to the left of the steering column, but many were lazy and merely left if taped to the harness so you may have a task to perform in order to locate the switch. The idea here is to press the valet switch while the key is in the on position.
There is another way to reset the keyless entry system but it does come with the following disclaimer, the battery could explode form a spark if you are not careful! The procedure is as follows; put on some safety glasses with the key in the off position disconnect the battery at the NEGATIVE terminal, turn the key to the on position and now reconnect the battery, turn the key back to the off position, now start the car and all should be well.
The 2000 to 2006 (with the exception of some models equipped with the immobilizer models have a more integrated keyless entry system most Subaru’s coming standard with the basic system, in the event this era is tripped you need only cycle the key in the ignition three times to reset it.
Now the immobilizer equipped cars present an additional aspect of security and potential panic as the key itself is registered to the module for the immobilizer system this means you can’t just get a copy of the key, you must buy an immobilizer matched key either from the Subaru Dealer or a shop that’s capable and registered with the lock smith association and has spent the money on tooling and codes from Subaru. Waiting until you have lost your only key isn’t the time to figure this out.
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