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CarJunky AutoAdvice

2003 Civic, I think it was just the key fob battery :(

Showing 2 out of 19 Posts | Show 17 Hidden Posts
Question From Neoma on 2003 Civic, I think it was just the key fob battery :(

115,000 miles. Coupe.

...And I payed $400 to replace the key lock mechanism in the door. The keyless entry was working right after the work was completed to replace the lock mechanism but then only intermittently starting the next day.

Situation was that I was previously living without the keyless entry for a few days as it hadn't been working (had given up on it after a few tries. Didn't think it was the battery as the light was still coming on on the key fob). Then my driver's side window motor broke and I had to make an emergency trip to the dealer to get it fixed so I could secure my car. While there, I had them check on my keyless entry. I did say that I didn't think it was the battery as the fob was still lighting up. That said, the battery had never been replaced in 10 years. They said it was the mechanism in the door that needed to be fixed and it would be cheaper to get it repaired with the window motor as the labor on the door panel was the same. As I mentioned earlier, this repair seemed to work at first but then intermittently the following days. For the heck of it, I just tried replacing the battery in the key fob - it was corroded so I can't believe a technician would have checked it without replacing it when diagnosing my keyless entry problem. Just because I said I didn't think the problem was the battery, should not have equated to not checking it when it is a $5 versus a $400 repair. Surprise, surprise my keyless entry is working perfectly now. Please tell me the dealer technicians ran some diagnostics on the key lock mechanism to confirm that it was actually broken...(because I highly doubt anyone checked the battery in my key fob).

Response From Discretesignals

I guess they took your word for it that your battery was good in the fob.

Not sure what you mean by lock mechanism. Did the power door locks work before the repair and when the Fob wasn't working?

Just to replace the window regulator is somewhere around $250 at the dealer if the labor rate is around $100.

Response From Neoma

No, nothing was responding to my key fob. Thing is, once the key fob stopped working, I just figured, that's it, it's broke - so I just manually opened the doors. I remember pressing the unlock button at a restuarant (not by my car) and seeing it light up and confirming with a friend that it therefore couldn't be the battery - hence why I didn't change it in the few days prior to my emergency trip to the dealer for the window problem, at which point in time I figured they may as well check on the keyless entry problem. I had mentioned the battery in a disgruntled way - like I was guessing it was more complicated than the battery as it was still lighting up. Once it was supposed to be fixed, I of course messed with the keyless entry quite a bit as it only worked about 60% of the time. I did notice that sometimes the light on the key fob came on, sometimes it didn't (at which time, the doors did not open!)- so that finally made me realize the battery must be failing (I had just assumed when it died, it died, the end - apparently it's more of a slow death, or the corrosion was interfering with its function). Perhaps the light was out intermittently prior to the "repair", but I didn't notice it.

Response From Discretesignals

I was just trying to understand what you where meaning by the part they replaced besides the one to fix the window.

Not the keyless entry system, but the power door locks you operate from the door lock switches in the vehicle is what I was asking. Were those operational before the repair when the keyless entry fob wasn't working?

Response From Neoma

Yes, the power door locks were operating just fine from inside the vehicle. The part replaced was the Driver's door lock actuator.

Response From Discretesignals

That doesn't make any sense. If the power door locks where working, including the driver's side, when the keyless entry system wasn't working, then the door lock actuator was good.


Basically the door locks are controlled by a processor called a MCU. When you push a door lock button in the vehicle the MCU is what causes the actuator to function to either lock or unlock the doors. The keyless entry system tells the MCU to lock or unlock the doors when your using your remote. It doesn't make sense to replace the actuator if the door locks are working with the switches in the vehicle.

Looks like the tech jumped the gun by replacing the actuator if your complaint was the keyless entry system wasn't locking or unlocking the doors, but the doors could be locked or unlocked with the switches in the vehicle.

You could go and talk to them and explain to them that you determined the fob's battery was the cause of keyless entry system not working and that replacement of the actuator wasn't necessary. They may work with you on that.

Response From Neoma

Wonderful. Well at least I only paid $316, not $400. :( :(

Response From Discretesignals

Your first post you stated you paid $400?

The actuator is around $60. What you paid is about right to replace the actuator, it probably didn't need, and the window regulator.

Response From Neoma

Hahaha, this is the honda dealer we are talking about. I'm looking at the bill now - $544 for the window regulator, $231 for the actuator + $86 parts. Then there's taxes. About $900 total. I have learned my lesson that there's no point in trusting the dealer over the shop down the street!

Response From Sidom

Well....That is what I have always said.....Everyone is human and ALL shops whether it's a dealer, independent or even tire shop all have good employees and unfortuanately bad ones..

Best thing to do is find a good tech, where ever he is, dealer, indy & stick with him.....remembering that he's huiman so there may be a small bump here or there but stick with him.....

Man this just doesn't sound right.......Times like this it would be nice to be able peak in across the counter and find out what the heck is going on.....it just seems like something is missing here......That just sound too high....

Response From Neoma

Nope, billed $900, washington, DC area. I'm making an appointment to complain but that will be my last time using the honda dealer service department. Already got some new shop recommendations from friends next time I need work done. No point paying premium prices if they don't take the time to check on and replace a corroded battery for $5.

Response From Sidom

Well sometimes word of mouth can be the best way......and even indy's can use OE parts if that is what you prefer but obviously it's more expensive....

I believe what your are saying, just sounds weird, I'm not going to derail the thread but if all the actuators were working fine with the switches, inside the door is the last place you would start looking for a problem like that...... The locks were working perfectly???? no buzzing or rattling sound out of any of them when the switch was used???? Weird

Sometimes it's better to talk to the tech about a problem, sometimes all the info doesn't make from the desk.....You saying you thought the battery was ok, could've easily turned into "I think the customer said the battery was replaced & it didn't help it" ....still no excuse but I'v seen that happen before

Response From Neoma

Sidom - yep, that's what I'm afraid of, that they thought I had already checked the battery. That said, I'm reading that corrosion is pretty typical with these key fobs - and I wouldn't have recognized it myself - my electronics friend helped me with the fob and noted it. Point being - they could have double checked! Anyways, I feel pretty stupid about it, but you live and learn.

Response From Discretesignals

No wonder people are running around shooting each other up there.

Best thing to do is call around and get some estimates just for price comparison. Definitely avoid that dealer like it has a bad case of gonorrhea.

Response From Neoma

Labor was $515 - $120 an hour labor rate might explain it.

Response From nickwarner

But the book time was only 2.4 hours. You'd be near $300. You've got handprints on your ankles writing that check.

Response From Neoma

What do you mean by book time? Is there a standard somewhere?

Response From Discretesignals Top Rated Answer

Is that a bill or an estimate from the dealer?

If that was a bill you paid, you got bent over and rammed.

There ain't now way in heck I could charge a customer $900 to replace a window regulator and door lock actuator on a Civic.

The regulator lists out around $90 and the actuator around $60 from Autoway dealer here in Florida.

What the heck is the labor rate there?? The labor time to replace the regulator is 1.4 hrs and actuator is 1.0hr. There is a some overlap in labor because you have to remove the door panel to get to either one of those parts.

Response From Neoma

I could also open the door manually with the key no prob.