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  1. #1
    chrisp's Avatar
    chrisp is offline 2K Club Member
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    Default Commodore car key repair

    Hi all,

    I thought I'd post me experience with repairing a key for a commodore. The key I repaired is for a VX, but I understand that the VS, VT, VX, VZ, VY are all similar.

    What prompted this repair was that one of my car keys stopped working one morning. I figured that it had a flat battery. However, these keys are not designed to be repaired or have their battery replaced. Replacements cost about $80 plus.

    With nothing to loose, I thought I'd have a go at a repair.

    Note: I actually repaired two keys using two different battery replacements and two different ways of fixing the case.

    Battery replacement - Jaycar battery (cost $2.45)
    I'll start with how to replace the battery using a battery available from Jaycar.

    Here is how it starts off:
    key-01.jpg

    key-02.jpg

    Remove the two screws and separate the key blade from the transponder

    key-03.jpg

    The transponder is glued together and the two shells have to be broken apart. Start by inserting a broad flat-blade screwdriver in the slot that held the key blade and carefully lever it until the glue starts to crack.

    key-04.jpg

    Carefully keep the cracking going by progressively moving the screwdriver around the body as the crack opens. DON'T push the screwdriver in to the body of the transponder or else you may damage the circuit board inside.

    key-05.jpg

    The two halves will separate.

    key-06.jpg

    key-07.jpg

    The nearest battery that is available from Jaycar is this one. Cat No. SB1762. It is a CR2032 intended for vertical circuit board mounting. We really need a horizontal one, but this one at least has tabs.

    key-08.jpg

    The old battery can be seen on the board. The new battery is in the foreground.

    key-09.jpg

    To remove the old battery, wedge a small screwdriver under it to provide a little upward pressure (but not too much).

    key-10.jpg

    Turn the board over and heat the two solder tabs one at a time and "walk" the battery up and out of the board. It is best not to try and fully free it side on one go, but rather just bring each side up a millimetre (or so) at a time.

    key-11.jpg

    Now we need to somehow make the replacement battery fit the horizontal mounting holes. Here is how I did it. Firstly, I bent the large tab on the positive side fully back on itself. See the lower battery.

    key-12.jpg

    The negative side is very easy. Just carefully bend the tab. See the lower battery again.

    key-13.jpg

    To complete the positive terminal, I carefully broke part of the positive tab from the old battery. DON'T tear the spot welds as the case may rupture - and lithium burns spontaneously in air! I have soldered the battery in by the negative terminal here too.

    key-14.jpg

    I found that I could make the old positive tab sit neatly into the new battery. I have chopped one of the 'pins' off the new battery as it was too close to the switch.

    key-15.jpg

    Things got a little messy here. I initially tried to simply solder the old tab to the new tab. The tab wouldn't plate very well with standard solder. I thought I'd try bend the remaining pin towards the old tab and try soldering that. It sort of worked, but it wasn't very strong.

    key-16.jpg

    To bridge the tinned bits of the two tabs, I thought I'd use some wire instead. I started by stripping a piece of wire.

    key-17.jpg

    And then soldering it across the tabs.

    key-18.jpg

    And then trimming it.

    key-19.jpg

    You will need to trim off the negative tab on the solder side of the circuit as it will protrude too far and will not allow the case to go back together. This completes the "Jaycar" battery replacement.

    key-20.jpg

    Battery replacement - Element14 battery (cost ~$3.50)

    If you are prepared to spend a little time and a little more money, you can source yourself a 'horizontal' mount battery that will 'drop in'. I purchased a Cat No. 129-8346 from Element14. I got three batteries for a whisker over $10 with trade discount. Expect to pay about $3.50 plus delivery (~$10).

    Here is another key with the better fitting battery.

    key-21.jpg

    Opening the case and removing the board is as before. These things are like walnuts - some are easy to open, some are hard. this one was hard.

    key-22.jpg

    "Walk" the battery out of the board by carefully applying pressure while heating each pin with a soldering iron.

    key-23.jpg

    Install the new battery. You might need to "walk" it down if you haven't got the right gear to clean off the old solder. Make sure you put it in the right way around. Don't even 'touch' it in the wrong way - it will probably damage the board.

    key-24.jpg

    The tabs will protrude from the underside of the board.

    key-25.jpg

    Carefully trim them off.

    key-26.jpg

    The battery replacement "element14" is complete.

    key-27.jpg

    Reassembling the case
    Test your transponder. You should be able to lock and unlock the car using the bare transponder board. If you are happy it is working, you can reassemble the case.

    If you are happy the case is in reasonable condition, you can simply throw away the gasket and glue the case back together. You will then need to reinstall the key blade and you're done.

    key-28.jpg

    If the case is broken or the buttons have gone (like this one).

    key-29.jpg

    I thought I'd try a new 'screw together case' I sourced via ebay.

    key-30.jpg

    in goes the circuit board...

    key-31.jpg

    Screw the case together...

    key-32.jpg

    Refit the blade, and done!

    key-33.jpg

    NOTES
    Getting the case to go back together and have the buttons work can be fiddly. With the screw-together case, I had the glue the buttons on to stop them coming out.

    I'm also going to try some other cases from ebay to see if they are better or not.

    What the hell has this got to do with renovation????


    No laurels to rest on

  2. #2
    ringtail is offline 3K Club Member
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    Nice one. When I was a mechanic the keys were always stuffing up or needing recoding. PITA. We just used to get one of the boys from the holden workshop up the road to drop in with a new key and TECH2, job done in 5 mins. By the time we charged a hourly rate to gin around with the key it would have cost the customer double the price of a new key - lol. But hey, if you have the time and skills why not eh.

  3. #3
    Handyjack is offline Senior Member
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    Why do they make it hard/impossible to change a battery?
    I have recently changed the battery on two Toyota keys. Just needed to undo two or three tiny screws.
    Perhaps we need to consider the key repairs when buying a car now.

  4. #4
    chrisp's Avatar
    chrisp is offline 2K Club Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Handyjack View Post
    Why do they make it hard/impossible to change a battery?
    I have recently changed the battery on two Toyota keys. Just needed to undo two or three tiny screws.
    Perhaps we need to consider the key repairs when buying a car now.
    I think there is a case for developing and mandating a Universal Key Standard. We should be able to just carry one key and have it open all the locks we encounter (house, car, etc.). When buying a new car, we should be able to have it configured to our own key. The same with house locks - we should be able to buy a lock and set it to match our own key.

    It would matter too much if the standard stipulated a blade profile, or whether it was a electronic transponder. I think we have too many different keys and it is needless.
    No laurels to rest on

  5. #5
    Bedford's Avatar
    Bedford is offline The Master's Apprentice
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    What happens if your key is stolen, whoever finds it then has the key for everything.

    What happens when the battery goes flat?
    "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the Government and I'm here to help." óRonald Reagan

  6. #6
    chrisp's Avatar
    chrisp is offline 2K Club Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedford View Post
    What happens if your key is stolen, whoever finds it then has the key for everything.

    What happens when the battery goes flat?

    Ah. The same as now. If I loose my keys, I loose them all anyway. If our locks were configurable, we'd just get a new key (or probably a new transponder) and reset the locks to the new key/transponder.

    If the battery goes flat, I'll post a thread on how to change it.
    No laurels to rest on

  7. #7
    Bedford's Avatar
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    So with this system would you have to also have a solenoid to activate the steering lock?

    If so what are the chances of an electronic fault locking the steering whilst under way?

    What would be the situation for say a rented property, who would be responsible for any reprogramming costs and would this need a technician to do it?

    Lotta questions there.
    "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the Government and I'm here to help." óRonald Reagan

  8. #8
    chrisp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedford View Post
    So with this system would you have to also have a solenoid to activate the steering lock?

    If so what are the chances of an electronic fault locking the steering whilst under way?

    What would be the situation for say a rented property, who would be responsible for any reprogramming costs and would this need a technician to do it?

    Lotta questions there.
    I'm going to advocate for you to be included on the "universal key" standards committee.

    All good questions and ones that would need to be addressed.

    No laurels to rest on

  9. #9
    bobbyg is offline Apprentice (new member)
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    @ chrisp,

    this is a very chrispy post )

    thanks for the battery change, very dedicated explanation ;-), and thanks to all who commented, it turned out an in teresting topic lol.

    cheers to all.

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