I’m sure many people have wondered what happens when the battery in their fob for their car goes dead and they don’t even have a traditional ignition or a way to enter the car without it. Well each car is going to be different, so I recommend reading your owner’s manual for information on what to do right now, before your battery dies and it becomes an emergency. Seriously. Go do it now. Then come back when you’re done and read my terrible tale of the time that I got stranded because I was an idiot.

There is one universal truth that applies to any car when it comes to how to deal with a dead fob battery. Yes, one action that you can take to prevent catastrophe. A singular move that will help you live a happy, trouble-free automobile/fob communication existence: change your battery at the first sign of it dying. Your car will give you some kind of warning, HEED THAT WARNING. Your car may actually warn you on the dash with a real clear message such as “Low Battery in Fob,” or “Change Your Fob Battery, Idiot.” Or it may just start to lose range or otherwise act funny. Either way, be proactive and just change your dang battery already when it happens.

In my case, the first indication my battery was dying was I would go to start the car, and I would get the message “Fob Not Detected.” I would look down, see the fob, wonder what was going on, and try again. Then the car would start. Now this was my first opportunity to address the issue. I should have changed the battery right then. What I did instead was.....nothing.

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As time went on, the old trying-it-again trick no longer worked. The ignition wasn’t detecting the fob anymore at all. Now what I should have done right here was immediately go get the spare key, and toss the dying key in my bag to take to my job at the auto dealership where they stock these batteries and where it would be super convenient for me to replace it. What I did instead to avoid a simple trip back into the house was pop out the start button, and stick the weird Chrysler Fobik key directly into the ignition. Which worked. And strangely, the remote still had enough juice to lock/unlock the doors. So problem solved, right? No idiot, change your fob battery.

This setup worked fine until I was running errands yesterday and the remote would no longer even operate the locks. At my second stop or so, I had to do something that I hadn’t done for awhile: push the power lock button on the door upon exiting the vehicle in order to secure it. When I came back out, I had to use the hidden key that removes from the fob to unlock the driver’s door. An interesting thing happens when you do this: the alarm goes off. So I quickly fumbled the other half of my key into the ignition, which stopped the dreaded honking.

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At my next stop, I removed the key from the ignition and made my exit, but first I popped the trunk to access some cargo in there. I left my door open while doing so. It’s at this point that I realized that what I held in my hand (the remote) would only start the car and would no longer get me inside the car. That part of the key was now laying in the cupholder, where I carelessly threw it while frantically trying to silence the alarm. I actually had the thought here that this would be a really easy way to lock myself out of the car, and that I should immediately go to the dealership and get a battery. They could payroll-deduct the purchase for me. They might even have extras lying around for no charge. It was right on the way to my next stop. It would literally be no bother. But what I did instead was.....nothing.

When I went back to the car, I again performed the manual unlocking of the door/frantic fumbling to silence the honking routine. You can guess what happened at the next stop. The moment I shut the car door I knew what I had done. In my hand was the useless remote, and in the cupholder was the only way to get in the car. Also my phone, because why not.

So as I walked a couple miles down the road and back to a nearby parts store (that I had just driven past) to buy a two dollar battery that would allow me access into my own car, I had time to think about where I had gone wrong.

Change your fob batteries at the first sign of a problem, folks. Don’t be like Jay.