Many times, midway through driving, the key fob battery can go dead. You might also end up losing the car key fob.
Can you drive without a key fob?
You can drive without a key fob. However, the car might travel only a limited distance, and not all the functionalities of the car might be active when you do not have the key fob with you.
How does the key fob work?
The key fob uses the RFID system to lock and unlock your car. It consists of a transmitter that sends a signal to the locking system of your car when you press the button.
The communication is two-way since your car identifies tags that are stored in the key fob to confirm its identity.
Using this two-way communication, the task of unlocking and locking your car is secure. Because only that particular key fob that has been programmed and recognized by the onboard computer system of your car will be able to perform these functions.
Of course, the strength of the signal is limited, and therefore the range of the transmitter and receiver of the key fob is limited. That is why; it needs to be in the vicinity of the car if you want to perform many functions related to the car.
How far can you drive your car without a key fob?
|Car Manufacturer||Miles car can drive without the key fob|
|Acura||10 miles (approximately 20 minutes)|
|Nissan||No limit (dependent on fuel)|
|BMW||No limit (dependent on fuel)|
|Chevy||No limit (dependent on fuel)|
|Honda||No limit (dependent on fuel)|
|Dodge||No limit (dependent on fuel)|
|Toyota||No limit (dependent on fuel)|
|Ford||No limit (dependent on fuel)|
|Hyundai||No limit (dependent on fuel)|
|Lexus||No limit (dependent on fuel)|
|Mazda||No limit (dependent on fuel)|
|Volkswagen||No limit (dependent on fuel)|
|Volvo||No limit (dependent on fuel)|
Seven alternative ways to drive without a key fob!
1. Mobile app access:
Most modern cars these days allow you to control various functions of the car using a mobile app. Of course, you will have to set up the app in advance, and then you can use the app.
You will be surprised to know that these apps, when set up correctly, can allow you to unlock the door and also use various functions of the car.
Once you unlock the door, the pushbutton can help you start the engine and drive around.
You need to be aware that this is not an emergency solution. Only when you have set up app access in advance will you be able to start and drive the car without the key fob using the mobile app.
If you are already inside the car and have lost the key fob or the battery of the key fob is dead, then hotwiring can help you out.
Hotwiring can help you bypass the ignition lock or the switching mechanism.
Truth be told, it is pretty technical. An average car owner will not be able to do it. You either need a detailed guide to follow, which is available on YouTube, or get someone who has hotwired a car before. However, it is one of the most efficient ways to drive without the key fob.
3. Replacement of ECU:
This method will not only help you drive around your car but also will provide you with a new key fob. What you need to do is to install an ECU system in your car. This will undoubtedly supersede the existing ECU chip. You can use the key fob paired with that ECU chip. That way, no longer your old key fob will be required.
The only problem with this solution is that you will need someone well versed with ECU chips and how to install them in vehicles. You will not be able to do this on your own.
4. Push start:
Most automatic cars will start once you push them for long enough. That will fire the engine, and therefore you can drive around.
The only caveat is that your battery should be in proper condition to power the engine.
This method can come in handy if you’re inside the vehicle and have lost the key fob. However, it is most successful only in automatic cars.
5. Get a new key fob:
Many people are stuck in this situation because they think getting a new key fob is cumbersome. Stores like Autozone can help you get one and program it in no time.
6. Hire a locksmith:
Of course, if you aren’t near such stores, it is tough to get a new car key fob. This is where your locksmith can help you out.
A locksmith can help you program a key fob or at least provide you with the mechanical key so that you can drive around.
Even if you have a pushbutton start car, it will have a covered slot somewhere, which will provide you access to the mechanical ignition slot. A locksmith can certainly help you drive even if you have lost your key fob.
7. Contact the dealership:
Most dealerships might require you to sign a remote unlocking service when you buy the car. Generally, we do not read the contract’s fine print while purchasing a car. If such a service was opted by you intentionally or unintentionally, the dealership could undoubtedly come to your rescue.
When you contact the dealership with reasonable proof that you are the car owner, they can unlock the car remotely. Once you get inside the car, it becomes easy to use the pushbutton mechanism and drive your car.
Thus, it is not impossible to drive a car without a key fob. Using any of the seven ways, you can certainly do so.
If you’re thinking about what situations you might need to do so, I will cover that below.
Why do you need to drive without a key fob?
1. Dead FOB battery:
When the car key fob battery is dead, the key fob will not operate. It is almost the same as driving without a key fob.
Every key fob function depends on receiving the power from the battery. Sure enough, the battery will last for a significant period, but the battery does get exhausted over time. Since most of the key fobs do not have any indicator to let you know the battery levels, it stops working all of a sudden.
That is when you have to drive your car without the key fob.
This is the most common occurrence that car owners face.
2. Lost key fob:
We all like to keep our keys and key fobs pretty secure. However, sooner than later, you will face a situation where you will end up misplacing the key fob or losing it together.
If you only have a single car, you would, of course, try to figure out whether it is possible to drive without the key fob or not. In that case, you might still have to drive around. Of course, you need to visit the locksmith or the dealership to get the new key fob.
Fortunately, as we highlighted above, in this situation, you will be able to drive your car without the key fob, and therefore getting some help is easy.
3. Accidental replacement of key fob:
Most key fobs look the same. Especially if you’re using the aftermarket ones, the design of those key fobs is almost the same.
Often, when you have multiple cars at home, you might pick the key fob of a different car rather than the one you are driving.
In that case, the key fob will not function. You have to figure out to drive the car without the key fob.
You might think such mistakes do not happen. However, if you have 2 to 3 cars at your home, you will realize how common this problem is.
That is why; accidental replacement of the car key fob is another reason you will have to drive your car without the fob.
4. Damaged key fob:
The car key fob is not that expensive. That is why; many people are careless with their car key fobs. The extended wear and tear mean that the car key fob gets damaged over time.
Either that or you might drop the car key fob and damage it, or water damage might occur.
Without proper care, you will be facing a situation where your car key fob gets damaged sooner than later. In that case, it is as good as driving without the car key fob.
In most cases, when you want to drive without the car key fob, it is advisable to buy the car key fob itself. When it gets damaged, you might have to urgently drive your car to get a new car key fob immediately.
5. Forgot to pick:
I personally am guilty of this. Many times before coming out of the premises, I often forget my car key fob. Other than that, it is common to forget car key fobs on metro rides. You might forget it in the backpack of a colleague as well.
There are numerous situations in which you forget to carry the car key fob with you. By the time you realize that you don’t have the car key fob, it is already too late. This is another situation where you might have to drive your car without the car key fob.
6. Heading over to the car dealership:
When you have lost the key fob, you will have to drive to the dealership or locksmith. If you do not have any other mode of transport, you will have to figure out how to drive your car without the car key fob. Fortunately, I have highlighted above how to do that.
However, each time you lose or damage your car key fob, you will have to drive the car without one.
7. New key fob not working:
When you buy a new car key fob, you will need to program it with your car. Even if you get a professional to program it with the onboard computer system of your car, there might be a few glitches.
It might so happen that after a couple of days or a couple of weeks, the new key fob might not be working with your car. In this case, you might have to drive your car without one.
Now, I will share the safety repercussions of driving your car without a key fob.
What happens if you drive without the key fob? Is it safe?
It is safe to drive your car without the key fob. However, you might not have all the features of your car at your disposal. If you specifically speak about the safety features, they will be active once you start the car.
You have to keep in mind that if you turn off the car engine again, you might have to go through the entire procedure to start your car without the key fob again. Safety is not a concern, but it is cumbersome to drive your car without a key fob.
You have to keep a few tips in mind to do so, these include:
1. Turn off the car only at the destination:
If you’re going to the dealership or heading over to your home and you have lost the key fob, you should turn off the car only once you reach the destination. If you turn it off, you might not be able to turn it on again as the process to do so is cumbersome.
2. Try to get the key fob as soon as possible:
Even though there are numerous ways to start the car without the key fob, it is still not the best way to drive around. That is why; you have to try and get a new key fob as soon as possible. It will save you the hassle.