Skip to main content

Your key fob unlocks your car, of course, but you might be surprised at what else it can do. Unless you drive a BMW i8, it probably won’t update you on your car’s fuel and charging levels. However, there are plenty of other things even much less expensive key fobs can do. Did you know some of these secret functions of the humble key fob?

Unlock your car and start it up

Car key fob
Car key fob | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Reader’s Digest suggests exploring your key fob’s buttons to see what all it can do. For instance, did you know most automakers tuck an actual mechanical key into their fobs? That way you won’t be stuck if the battery that runs the fob dies unexpectedly or the fob malfunctions. 

If your car has a keyless ignition, all you’ll need to start it is your foot on the brake and the key fob somewhere in the car. Just don’t forget and leave it in the car when you park it. Opening your trunk or unlocking the back hatch is easier with a modern key fob instead of a mechanical key. Most newer cars have fobs that include this convenient feature.

When the weather is frightful outside, you might be able to start your vehicle from the warmth of home. The remote start button usually has a circular arrow. If your fob doesn’t have that symbol, check your owner’s manual to see if remote start is offered.

Improve the comfort of your car with a key fob

According to Consumer Reports, you can often use the key fob to let the stifling heat out of your car before you get in. Simply press the unlock button, release it, and immediately press it a second time and hold it down. In most cars, this will roll all four windows down at once, allowing all of that accumulated heat to escape.

You’ll enjoy a much cooler car when you get in, and your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard at cooling the cabin. Rolling the windows down before you get in also helps you minimize contact with the toxic benzene released by the hot plastics of your car’s interior. 

In addition, some GMC models are available with key fobs that you can program to suit your legroom preferences. Each fob has a different number so the car knows who’s driving and will adjust the seat accordingly. No more fiddling with the seat so you can reach the pedals (or even get in) when you share the car with someone else.

Ward off bad guys

The last thing a criminal intent on a scary carjacking or invading your home wants is an alarm going off. That’s just what will happen if you push your key fob’s panic button. That button sets off your vehicle’s emergency alert system, which should raise enough commotion to scare off most criminals.

Keep your key fob with you in your home, and you might foil a burglary or home invasion with the hard-to-ignore blaring horn and flashing lights of your car’s emergency alert system. It can even deter an unwelcome late-night visitor if you keep it by your bedside — as long as it works from there, of course.

Your key fob can even help with parking

Some cars automatically fold the side-view mirrors out of the way to protect them when the car is locked. If you have a newer Chevy or GMC pickup that doesn’t fold those giant side mirrors automatically, see if holding the lock button down gets the job done. It should if your vehicle is equipped with remote mirror folding. 


Why Is It So Expensive to Replace a Key Fob?