Remote Transmitter Troubleshooting — Partial or Intermittent Remote Functioning

We have received several questions recently from customers who were not sure if their remote is working or not. Their symptoms vary, but they all fall under the general heading of “partial or intermittent” functioning – the remote works part of the time or only does some of things it is supposed to do. And they want to know if their remote is “broken”. Well, the answer we give them always depends on the specific symptom.

One customer said that their old remote worked every time they pushed lock or unlock, but did not lock or unlock every door. This is clearly not a problem with the remote; it is a problem with the control board, wiring or actuators in the vehicle.

Another customer said that their remote works some of the time, but not all of the time. The underlying problem in this situation could be much more difficult to diagnose. The most likely cause of this problem is a weak battery in the remote transmitter. But the problem could also be that something is interfering with the button contact making good clean contact with the circuit board. Many other problems could lead to lead to this symptom, but none of them is very likely in our experience.

A third customer said the lock, unlock and panic buttons work fine on their old remote, but that nothing happens when they push the power liftgate button. This is easy to diagnose if you have two remotes for the vehicle. If both remotes have the same problem, it is almost certainly a problem with the vehicle side of the system; whereas, if only one remote fails to operate the power liftgate, then the problem is almost certainly with the old remote.

Factory keyless entry and aftermarket alarm system remotes and receivers, along with the wires, actuators, and devices they operate, are not the most complicated systems in a vehicle, but determining exactly what is going on when the system does not work still can be challenging and frustrating.

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