The battery in your car key will not last forever. When the battery fails there is always the option of unlocking your car manually, but with some simple maintenance you can avoid getting locked out this winter. The IAM's head of technical policy, Tim Shallcross, shares his top six tips as part of our #wheelsinwinter campaign:
- Make sure you replace the key battery every two years, including the battery in the spare key if you have one.
- If you don't already have a spare key, make sure you get one and keep it safe – a failed or lost key will cost much more in vehicle recovery. A replacement key typically costs between £20 and £50 for a blank electronic remote with a blank transponder, and a blank key blade from online suppliers. Allow around £15 - £20 to programme it and cut the blade. The cost is likely to be higher from a main dealer, typically £70 - £150.
- Each autumn on a dry day before the first frost use some lubricating spray on the keyhole, such as a 3-in-1 oil or GT85 Teflon spray. This will help keep the small parts in the lock dry and help those parts to move freely.
- The lock can freeze in winter if there is water or condensation in it. Place a hot water bottle over the lock for a few minutes and then use WD40 or GT85 to disperse the water and reduce the risk of it freezing up again.
- A frozen lock may also mean that the rubber seal is frozen on the doorframe and if you pull too hard at it you may risk pulling the rubber apart. To prevent this apply some chalk dust on to the rubber. This is an important step to carry out during the same time you are oiling the locks each autumn.
- Looking after your car keys and locks may seem trivial, but a 'lockout' is a severe irritation and you will have no other choice but to call for professional help.
Tim said: "Key issues can easily happen without proper thought and maintenance, and the costs of replacement can be shockingly high. These easy steps will not only save you money, but also eliminate the annoyance factor should this ever happen to you."