Interchangeable Remote Key Fobs with Different Button Configurations

At Remotes Unlimited, we often are asked questions about button configurations and icons on keyless entry and add-on system remote transmitters. Questions include such things as:
(1) “When I search for my keyfob on using my FCC ID, why do I see multiple parts with different buttons on them?”
(2) “If I buy a keyfob with a remote start button, will I be able to remotely start my car?”
(3) “Will it matter if the button in your picture does not look exactly like the one on my remote?”
(4) “My remote has a trunk button icon. Your site is offering me a part with a liftgate icon instead. Will it work?”

These are all reasonable questions. Here are some things you should know:

First, manufacturers sometimes change the icon on a remote transmitter button for no apparent reason and with no operational effect. This could be because of a perceived user benefit, such as adding the word “Hold” on a button to indicate that the button needs to be pressed and held down to have the desired effect. Or it could be because a graphic artist decided it would look better. Or, the replacement remote may be made by a different supplier than the original part shipped with a vehicle. So, the fact that a button looks slightly different on a replacement remote is not a certain indication that it will not work in place of your original remote.

Second, while the number and placement of buttons on a remote can be important to its operation, there are countless situations in which keyfobs with different button configurations have the same circuit board inside the remote. So, it is not unusual for two otherwise similar remotes – one with a trunk button, say, and another with a liftgate button – to be entirely interchangeable. And a 4-button remote with an “OPT” (option) button added is likely to work with an add-on system that used an otherwise equivalent 3-button remote with no “OPT” button.

Unfortunately, the challenge faced by nearly all consumers looking to buy a replacement remote is that generalizations don’t matter. All that matters is what is true in their specific situation. That is why you should always buy a replacement remote from a source that you find to have the knowledge and experience to be credible selling you a complicated technical security part.

Oh yes, about that remote start button question. If your vehicle was not originally equipped with remote engine start capability, there is very little chance that simply buying a keyfob with a remote start button on it will perform that function. If it does, then either you or the part may have magical powers.

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