For most vehicles, the answer is a resounding no. Most manufacturers don’t see the point in making rechargeable batteries because button batteries are relatively inexpensive. Drivers do not mind replacing a key fob’s disposable batteries.
Additionally, microbattery has noted that disposable batteries last longer than their rechargeable counterparts. Admittedly, that is only true in the beginning. Eventually, the disposable battery will lose its charge.
The same is true for the rechargeable battery. However, you can simply recharge it. But again, these batteries are inexpensive. Most people do not mind replacing them. As such, rechargeable key fob batteries are not widespread.
You find them in brands like BMW. Some manufacturers give you the option of choosing between rechargeable and disposal key fob batteries.
Advantages Of Rechargeable Key Fob Batteries
- Rechargeable batteries will remain in service for a longer period than their disposal counterparts. You can recharge a rechargeable key fob battery when it depletes. On the other hand, disposable batteries are called so because you must throw them away when they run empty.
- Rechargeable batteries are more environmentally friendly because you can reuse them. Admittedly, they are still a threat when you eventually throw them away. One NBC News article highlighted the toxic metals manufacturers use to make them, including lead, cadmium, and cobalt. These metals can still harm the environment when the batteries degrade in a landfill.
- Rechargeable key fob batteries are more expensive when you first buy them. But they are more cost-effective in the long run because you won’t replace them as frequently as their disposable counterparts.
- Rechargeable key fob batteries are convenient, particularly the kind that recharges automatically while you drive the vehicle.
Disadvantages Of Rechargeable Key Fob Batteries
- The initial cost is high.
- Replacement costs are also high.
- Some brands don’t give you the option of replacing a rechargeable battery. Instead, you must replace the entire key fob, which could cost you hundreds of dollars.
- The disposal of rechargeable batteries involves the same careful consideration as the disposal of replaceable batteries. Some manufacturers will take their batteries back. Others will encourage you to contact your local recycling center. In other words, you can’t just throw a dead rechargeable battery in the trash.
As you can see, rechargeable batteries have advantages and disadvantages. They are not necessarily a superior option. You should only invest in rechargeable key fob batteries if you can withstand the cost of a new key fob once the batteries deplete.
Keep in mind that new keys come from the dealership. You can’t obtain a replacement key from third-party retailers. The dealership needs to program the key.
Different Types Of Rechargeable Key Fob Batteries
- Vanadium Lithium – These batteries have a lot in common with manganese dioxide lithium batteries. Their nominal voltage is 3.0 volts. They have a ‘VL’ label.
- Lithium Ion – Manufacturers make many versions of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, including lithium manganese nickel, lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide, and lithium iron phosphate. Consumers love lithium-ion batteries because they can tolerate hundreds of charging and discharging cycles. Their nominal voltage is 3.2 – 3.7V. You can identify them using the ‘LiR’ label.
- Manganese Lithium – This type has a nominal voltage of 3.0V.
These are the chemistries you will find when searching for rechargeable key fob batteries. It should be emphasized that rechargeable key fob batteries are incredibly rare.
Charging Methods For Rechargeable Key Fob Batteries
Some cars will warn you that a key fob battery is nearly depleted. They can tell because key fobs talk to the car, and some vehicles are smart enough to track the key fob battery’s status. In other cases, you should look for the following signs:
- The fob’s range will reduce. You must come closer to the vehicle for the fob to work.
- The key fob’s responses are erratic. It doesn’t always work when you press the buttons.
- Sometimes, the car cannot detect the key.
These symptoms can manifest for other reasons, such as faulty computers and sensors. But if you think the battery is depleted, you can recharge it using the following solutions:
1). Use The Ignition Slot
Bimmer Tech has noted that BMW key fobs charge automatically when you push the key into the ignition.
The ignition slot is the charger. It works while you drive. Many manufacturers with rechargeable key fob batteries include similar functions. They use inductive charging to recharge the battery. You don’t have to drive your car every day to charge the key fob battery. Driving a few times a year is sufficient.
2). Use A Battery Charger
If driving isn’t an option, Bimmer Nav recommends an automotive battery charger. Connect the charger to the jump start terminals in the engine bay before pushing the key into the ignition. Turn it to position one and leave. The key fob battery will charge overnight. Usually, this tactic is a bad idea because you risk depleting the vehicle’s battery. However, the charger will prevent this outcome.
3). Replace The Key
Do you own a key fob with a rechargeable battery? When was the last time you tried to open it? Key fobs with rechargeable batteries are glued shut. You’re more likely to damage the key by forcing it open.
And even if you succeed, Soxxi Master has noticed that rechargeable batteries are soldered to the board. Therefore, popping the battery off and replacing it is out of the question. Your only option is to get a new key.
You must present documentation proving that you own the car and its key. The manufacturer wants to match each key to the correct VIN.
4). Use Third-Party Companies
Some dealerships will offer to charge the battery for you. If that isn’t an option, use third-party companies. Some of them will replace the rechargeable battery. But allowing a third-party entity to tamper with the fob will most likely void your warranty.
Battery Life And Lifespan Of Rechargeable Key Fob Batteries
The average key fob battery lasts four to six years. But if you have a rechargeable key fob battery, you will most likely replace it every two to three years, assuming you cannot find a third-party entity to recharge it.
Impact of Charging Frequency On The Performance And Longevity Of Rechargeable Batteries
Rechargeable batteries have a specific number of charge cycles. Eventually, they will fail, forcing you to replace them. This can’t be helped.
Usually, technicians will discourage you from allowing an electronic device to discharge completely before you charge the battery. But that isn’t a problem with key fobs because their batteries will recharge while you drive.
In other words, the rechargeable key fob battery is unlikely to discharge completely (unless you rarely drive). The charge will only deplete because the battery is old and worn out and, thus, can no longer hold its charge.
Once that happens, the fob’s functions will become inconsistent and erratic. If your key fob battery is relatively new, you don’t have to worry about charging it too frequently or waiting too long to recharge it. The ignition slot will handle the recharge function while you drive.
Proper Maintenance And Care For Rechargeable Key Fob Batteries
- Don’t keep the key fob close to the car. You will drain the battery at a faster rate because the fob will talk to the vehicle continuously.
- Store the key fob in a cool and dry location.
- If the fob gets wet, shake it firmly (with the buttons facing downward) to remove the excess water before wiping it with a dry cloth. You can also store it among packets of silica gel (inside a plastic bag).
- Keep the key fob away from excess heat or cold.
Compatibility Of Rechargeable Key Fob Batteries With Various Key Fob Models
When a key fob battery drains, technicians encourage you to remove it before checking the back. The label will tell you the correct replacement to get. But you can’t pop rechargeable batteries out. You must take the key fob back to the dealership along with proof of ownership.
They will give you a new key. You can’t replace the soldered battery. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about finding the correct replacement for a dead rechargeable key fob battery.
Considerations For Choosing The Right Rechargeable Key Fob Battery For Specific Needs
Finding a decent rechargeable battery is complicated because it involves looking at the battery chemistry, operating temperature, size, and more.
But those considerations don’t matter to rechargeable key fob batteries because you can’t replace them. These batteries are soldered to the PCB board. Once they stop working, you must replace the entire key fob.
Some third-party companies may offer to replace the battery, but allowing them to tamper with the key voids the warranty. They may damage the fob permanently. It isn’t worth the risk. You are better off taking the key fob back to the dealership.
If the rechargeable battery is replaceable, the dealership will replace it. They don’t expect you to select the new battery yourself.
Cost Comparison Between Rechargeable Key Fob Batteries And Disposable Batteries
Disposable batteries are cheap. You’re looking at $15 or less, depending on the brand. You can replace the battery yourself, eliminating labor costs. The procedure is straightforward.
Unfortunately, you can’t replace a rechargeable key fob battery. You need a new key, which may cost you $150 or more. Again, the brand matters. Some fobs are more expensive than others. If you’re lucky, your warranty will reduce the cost dramatically.