Why Did My Volvo Keyless System Suddenly Fail?

Keyless ignition systems first began appearing in cars in the late 1990s. By 2005 the systems were gaining momentum. First forward to 2019 and nearly all modern cars feature keyless systems. As you would expect, Volvo is up there with all the big wigs that championed for keyless ignition systems through innovation. So how exactly do keyless ignition systems work? What makes them special? Are they susceptible to failure like other car systems? Read on to learn more.

How They Work

Keyless ignition systems come complete with fobs that can be easily tucked away in the pocket, briefcase, purse, wallet or anywhere near the receiver inside the vehicle. The fob is designed to transmit unique low frequency signals to the car computer system. Once the receiver receives signals from the fob, it validates the correct signal before allowing you to push a button on the dashboard or console to start the car engine.

Shutting off the motor is just as easy as igniting the car. Simply press the stop/start button. The icing on the cake boils down to the fact that many modern Volvo models with keyless ignition systems allow their owners to enter into the car without having to hit a button on the fob or inserting a key anywhere.  Despite this level of convenience though, keyless systems sometimes fail for the following reasons.

  • Worn Out Batteries- When the batteries in your key fob wear out, it goes without saying that the keyless system will not work. These batteries can last for up to two years or more subject to the frequency of use of the key fob.  Diagnosing this problem and replacing these batteries is quite simple.  The easiest way to identify if the batteries are dead is checking whether the car is responding to commands from the key fob.
  • Internal Damage To The Remote (Key Fob) - The wireless remote depends on the relay of signals between the transmitter and the receiver in the car. If either of these components gets damaged, then the keyless system in your Volvo will not work. The components of a key fob wear out with time especially for older models. Additionally, external damages to the remote such as dropping it may lead to an internal damage to the key fob.
  • Faulty Ignition Cylinder- Unknown to most Volvo owners is that the keyless system is not only associated with the external locks of the car but also its ignition. As such, it is possible for the key fob to unlock the doors but the car fails to ignite. When such is the case, the ignition cylinder could be faulty. It thus requires repair or replacement depending on the extent of damage. Even with the sophisticated technology used in Volvos, the ignition cylinder is susceptible to failing especially due to wear and tear.

Quick Solution

The solution you go for will of course, depend on what cause the failure in the first place. For instance, if the failure is necessitated by a damaged key fob, consider buying a new remote. However, for more serious problems such as faults within the car’s system itself like a faulty ignition cylinder, contact a certified Volvo technician.