Smart Key Malfunction Toyota Camry [Cause and Fix]

Toyota introduced the “Smart Key” in 2004 on their Corolla and Highlander. With time, they added smart keys to all models with more advanced features.

Toyota Camry also comes with a smart key that offers keyless entry, lock-unlock, push-button start, and trunk release options. But it is frustrating when the key starts malfunctioning.

If the vehicle system fails to connect the smart key, it illuminates a warning message on the dashboard: “Smart entry and start system malfunction.” The warning message indicates that the smart key is not functioning properly.

If you see the warning message, don’t worry! I have covered the major causes and solutions to the Toyota Camry smart key malfunction issue in this article.

There are two common and three rare causes for Toyota Camry smart key malfunctions. Battery issues and damaged keys are the two common causes of smart key malfunctions. Electrical issues, software glitches, and faulty receivers are the rare causes of the problem.

Let’s discuss the problems and their solutions:

1. Battery Issues

Camry Battery Issues

Battery issues are the main reasons for Camry smart key malfunctions. Battery issues refer to both the key fob battery and the Camry’s internal battery.

Both are responsible for smart key malfunctions. The key fob’s weak battery mainly causes the malfunction.

A smart key with a weak battery is unable to communicate with the vehicle’s system and thus fails to command the necessary actions.

Replacing the key battery is the only easy solution to this problem. Toyota Camry’s key battery costs less than $1.50 per piece.

Beyond the fob, Camry’s own battery also plays a role in smart key malfunctions.

A failed or drained car battery is unable to provide enough power to the car’s electrical system.

Therefore, the receiver fails to pick up the key fob’s signal. And you face the ‘no starting’ or ‘no unlocking’ issue.

If the vehicle’s battery is problematic, you should take your Camry to an auto mechanic for proper solutions.

2. Damaged Key

Physically damaged keys also cause malfunctions, and the vehicle dashboard illuminates the warning light. The key may drop by accident and cause cracks in the key.

It may cause signal issues, and the dashboard shows the warning light. Accidentally dropping the key fob in water, tea, or coffee damages the key fob’s functionality.

Remember that Toyota’s smart keys have water resistance capability, but they are not totally waterproof. So, think about whether the key fob fell into the water or not.

If you have a spare key, use it to find out if it’s functioning properly or not. It will help to determine the current key fob functionality.

3. Electrical Issues

Loose or damaged electrical connections sometimes cause receiver issues.

Therefore, the ECU cannot receive proper signals and pop up the warning light. Check the electrical connections visually.

If you find any issues, fix it. Otherwise, take your vehicle to a mechanical shop to fix the problem.

4. Software Glitch

Software glitches are rare but not impossible to occur.

If the system software is not up to date, or there are any glitches, it causes several problems.

Smart key malfunction is the most common of the problems. So, keep your system software up to date.

5. Receiver Malfunction

This is the rarest case, and it only occurs when the vehicle is involved in an accident or suffers damage.

In normal situations, simple software updates reset the “smart entry and start system malfunction” warning light.

But if there are any severe issues, consulting with an experienced auto mechanic is the best idea.

How to Start Your Toyota When Smart Key Won’t Work

If your Toyota smart key won’t work, but you need to go somewhere, what can you do?

You can start your Toyota with 2 easy methods, including using the mechanical key and remote start.

Method 1: Using the Mechanical Key

In this method, follow these 2 steps to start your vehicle:

Step 1: Access the Hidden Key

Access the Hidden Key

Almost all new Toyota smart keys contain a hidden mechanical key.

You will find the key on the upper side of the smart key fob.

Closely see that there will be a small button or tab on the side of the key fob.

To pull out the mechanical key, just press and hold the button.

When the metal key comes out, use it to open the Toyota driver’s door manually.

Step 2: Start the Car Using Dead Key Fob

After entering the car, put back the mechanical key into the key fob.

Now, hold the key fob up to the engine start/stop button and press it while simultaneously applying the brakes.

You will hear a beep and you are ready to go.

If there is any signal issue, this trick perfectly works.

Method 2: Remote Start

If your Camry is equipped with a remote start feature, you can easily start your vehicle.

Just use the Toyota smartphone app and start the engine remotely.

Additional Tips

To keep yourself trouble-free from smart key malfunctions issue, follow these 4 tips:

  1. Ensure you have the small metal key in the key fob.
  2. Always keep a jump starter box or cables in your hand in case the car’s battery dies.
  3. Buy extra key batteries for emergencies.
  4. Switch off all electronic devices before parking your Camry.

Final Thoughts

Although smart key malfunctions are frustrating, you should not panic. Just keep calm and move to the right approach.

It is easy to fix the smart key malfunction and not very expensive. Most of the time, battery replacement fixes the problem.

Do not try to bypass the vehicle’s electronic system by watching inappropriate videos. Follow the correct way and go ahead.

Leave a Comment