Camry smart key battery replacement

The battery in my Camry’s smart key just died and information on how to replace it wasn’t as easy to find as I thought it would be, so I decided to post some instructions here. Even if no one else finds it useful, I’ll be able to come back in a couple of years to remind myself how to do it.

Most likely, the battery died in less than three years because it’s almost always near my cell phone. When I’m walking around, the key is in one pocket and the phone is in an other; when I’m riding my bike, they’re both in a waterproof case in my saddlebag; overnight, they’re both on my bathroom counter. According to a Toyota service bulletin

Some customers may experience limited battery life in their Smart Keys. The Smart Key “wakes up” by receiving a “ping” or electronic noise. many electronic devices emit a “ping”, therefore a Smart Key(s) could wake up and as a result, battery life could be reduced.

If the Smart Keys are stored near any of the following components, battery life may be reduced. Keep Smart keys at least 1 meter (40 inches) from these electronic devices.

TVs or computer monitors
DVD or VCR units
Desktop PCs or notebooks
Cordless phones or cell phones
[etc.]

Toyota is not making this easy. The only way I can think of to keep more than one meter of separation is to tie the keys to my shoelaces and carry the phone in my hat. I don’t usually wear a hat, but I’ve read that Lincoln carried paper and a pen in his, so maybe I should visit my local haberdasher and shop for a nice new stovepipe. Or just plan to replace the battery every couple of years.

Before getting into the instructions, I should mention two things:

  1. This is for a 2007 Camry. Although I would expect the instructions to be similar for other years and models, the hints I’ve found elsewhere on the web indicate that Toyota hasn’t standardized its smart key design or its battery choice.
  2. My car’s digital display started telling me last week that the key’s battery was low. So if you get a low battery warning, expect the battery to die relatively soon.

The little mechanical key that’s stored in the smart key is the tool needed to get at the battery. So the first step is to push the latch on the side of the fob and pull out the mechanical key.

The end of the mechanical key is thinner than the rest of the key, and that’s what we’ll use to pry open the fob. Put the end of the key into the narrow slot that’s perpendicular to the hole you just pulled it out of.

Twist the mechanical key to pop open the fob.

The battery is on the other side of this circuit board. The board is held in its compartment by double-sided tape, so it won’t just fall out. Slip the end of the mechanical key under the board and gently lever it out.

The battery is held in place by three little legs. Spring them open one at a time to remove it.

The battery is, unfortunately, a CR 1632, which your local drug store is unlikely to carry. I found one at a Radio Shack.

After replacing the battery and putting the board back in its compartment, snap the two halves of the fob back together. It may take a bit of squeezing.

A brief note on the photos: Although you can tell by the chewed fingernails that I’m not a hand model, I think the photos turned out quite well—despite being shot with overhead fluorescent lighting. I had my G10 set up on a GorillaPod, with the flash turned off, the lens set to macro, and the shutter release timer set to 5 seconds. I’d get the focus set with just my left hand and the key in the frame, then get my right hand in position after pushing the shutter release. The blue paper I put down on the table makes a nice background. The only post-processing needed was some lightening of the shadows in iPhoto to bring out details along the dark edge of the fob.

Update 10/6/09
Just replaced the battery in the car’s second smartkey. Since the second key is stored away from any electronic devices, I guess the battery life of the first key wasn’t reduced much by always being near my cell phone. Also, I learned of a second source for the CR 1632 battery: my local Batteries Plus.

Update 1/15/10
Two commenters have said that dealers charge $50 to replace a battery. I thought the $4+ I had to pay at Radio Shack was too much. No wonder car dealers are held in such high regard.

Update 2/5/10
I didn’t put this in the original post, because it is in the owner’s manual, but it’s probably worth mentioning here: if your smart key battery gets so low that the car won’t start with the key in your pocket or purse, you can start the car by putting the back of the key (the side with the Toyota logo) right up against the Start button on the dashboard.

Thanks to Jan in the comments for pointing this out, and thanks also to Jeffrey E. for prompting me to put it up here.

Also, you may be interested in my other Toyota-related post, which discusses the gas pedal recall.

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47 Responses to “Camry smart key battery replacement”

  1. Halli Mason says:

    thanks! my husband found your website in 30 seconds. And your detailed info solved the problem of a dead key. I will check my local Radio Shack.

  2. Petra Fitch says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this article. You are a life saver! We were even tinking about calling the dealer but now don’t have to, thanks to you.

  3. Debby says:

    Just got the “low battery” warning this morning. Spent some time trying to find info on Toyota’s website. You have made my day much better. The descriptions and pictures are great. Thanks for taking the time for this post. :)

  4. rani says:

    thanks soooo much! this will help me replace the battery easily as my key is about to die too…you have made things easy for us!

  5. Maureen says:

    Thanks for your organization and thoroughness!! I started seeing the “Low Battery Key” exactly 2 years after I pulled my 2007 Camry Hybrid off the lot. Sent my husband to “Batteries Plus” this afternoon. Thanks!!!!

  6. Kathryn says:

    Thank you for sharing…I’m so thankful for your instructions!!! My key lasted 2 years and 5 months…not bad for sitting in my purse beside my cellphone for 95% of that time!

  7. Karen says:

    Thanks for taking the time to share this very helpful information. Wow, it made something that I thought would be complicated very easy. My key has lasted for 3 1/2 years. I guess that is pretty good.

  8. Tiffany says:

    This was perfect!!! First thing that came up in my yahoo internet search and was the best step by step guide I could have ever asked for.

    P.S. the battery is only $4.99 at Radio Shack

  9. Jeremy says:

    Thank you. I got the low battery message last week and couldn’t figure out what to do after I popped the battery open. Now i know I was just one step away!

  10. Jan says:

    Thanks for the great info. Perfect! And saves me from having to go into the dealership. I will add that after my key fob’s battery gave out today, I found in the manual where if you place the backside of the fob (where it has the Toyota insignia) against the smart start button in the car, it starts right up, dead battery and all!

  11. Ed says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share this information. The batteries in both of my smart keys died at the same time so I thought it was a car problem. The dealer wanted to keep the car and would have probably told me that I needed a new transmission (LOL). However, I kept the car and first changed batteries (following your instructions). It was easy, cheap and solved the problem. Thanks again.

  12. Wayne says:

    I just ordered five (5) CR1632 batteries on ebay for $5.68. Keep a couple in the car at that price.

  13. G. Coston says:

    Toyota owes you a commission! Thanks for the info and the great pics.

  14. Lisa J. Kassner says:

    You sure have made my day. I thought I was going to have to go to the Toyota dealership and spend $50.00 per electronic key, then I came upon your web page. Kudos on your photography and write up explaining how to do this.

    Kindest and sincerest warm regards,

    Lisa J. Kassner

  15. Tamas Vincze says:

    Thanks for the instructions! You just saved me $50, the amount my dealer quoted to replace the battery.

  16. Brenda Perez says:

    Thanks for taking the time to provide these detailed instructions and photos. I got the low battery key message this evening and was going to call the dealership tomorrow morning. Now I can change it myself. You’re a gem!

    Brenda

  17. Dave Johnson says:

    Thanks for including these — I was planning to go to the Toyota dealer today and pay for this. Instead, I went to Radio Shack at lunch and was able to replace the battery in minutes. The instructions are excellent.

           Dave
    
  18. Nissa says:

    Thanks!!! I would have never figured that one out by myself without probably tearing up one of my smart keys 1st. Had it open in less than a minute.

  19. Patrick K says:

    Thank You for the instructions. It was very kind of you.

  20. Beth P. says:

    I appreciate the instructions. I drive a 2005 Prius and my key fob doesn’t look like this. Can’t figure out how to pop the fob open. Any suggestions?

  21. Kelly M. says:

    Great Job!!

    You’re more detailed and informative than the Toyota Parts Dept.

  22. Brian C says:

    Wonderful info. Thanks! Bought my Camry in 2006 and this is the first key battery replacement.

  23. Marilyn D. says:

    Thank you for the information! The pictures were great! Since the instructions in the car manual tell you to be soooo careful about opening up the fob (even suggesting it is best to go to your dealer), I was nervous about lifting the circuit board. Now, that I see how it is done, I can do it myself. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this for others.

  24. Jeffrey E. (Edelblute) says:

    This is the most impressive search I’ve done in a month. We own a 2007 Camry Hybrid with a Smart Start keyfob, and I just replaced the fob battery last month and suddenly it’s flat dead this time. I found this site, and the instructions and pictures are worthy of praise for a very skilled tech-writer!!!

    Jan’s response of January 5 is noteworthy and maybe could be added as another update uptop; it made it possible for me to drive to the local hardware store to get a new battery….. As Jan says, “…..I found in the manual where if you place the backside of the fob (where it has the Toyota insignia) against the smart start button in the car, it starts right up, dead battery and all!” /s/ Jeff

  25. Vasi says:

    Thanks for the information.You saved me a Trip to the Dealer.

    Nice Article….

  26. Joe says:

    Great info!!! I just called my Toyota dealer as I am going there tomorrow for the brake recall and my smart key battery died today in my wife’s car and of course she never mentioned that she had a low battery message. The parts department stated $6.00 and they would install it in a minute or 2 free of charge. I don’t know why some dealers would charge $50.00. I took mine apart per the instuctions (curiosity killed the cat) and could also have replaced it in minutes. Again great stuff. Joe

  27. Mihai says:

    Thanks for this useful article. It’s just what i needed.

    For those who want to buy the battery first and only then to open and replace the battery, a small info about the battery:

    Panasonic CR1632 3V

  28. Ron DeCoste (Azvalleyman) says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share this very detailed/helpful information with everyone. Helping each other is one of the most rewarding things that a person can do.

  29. Doug says:

    Thanks—and ditto all the previous comments! Both my keys started giving the “low battery” warning after 3 years (2007 Camry). Thanks also to Jan (No. 10) — I had been wondering if I would be stranded if both my smart keys died.

  30. Phil says:

    My 2007 Camry key gave the low battery warning after about 3 yrs. Thanks for making this info available. I found it quickly, followed the instructions, and easily replaced the battery (purchased at Radio Shack). The photos were very helpful!

  31. Juan says:

    Sr.!!!! was so great to find out this information…Your explanation and pictures are excellent and very precise.

    Again,,,,Thank!

  32. Jill says:

    Thanks so much for publishing this.

  33. Joe says:

    Great, great, great!! Thank you for putting this up on the web - nothing like a little help to “do-it-yourself”…every couple of bucks you save help these days! Kudos!

  34. Peter says:

    Excellent info. Saved me a trip to the local dealership. Thanks!

    Just hope that the multi-colored little pieces of confetti that tumbled out of the fob when I opened it aren’t too important.

  35. Dianna says:

    My vehicle showed low key battery three days ago. I haven’t had time or even knew where to purchase another battery. I then got my extra remote out and my vehicle is still showing low key battery. I figured I would check the web and your site was the first one I located. I truly appreciate you posting photos, instructions and where I can purchase the battery. Thank you

  36. Patrick H. says:

    Thanks so much. I was wondering how on earth to replace the battery. Just got a low battery message on my ‘09 Camry. I have already taken it apart and it also has a CR1632 battery.

  37. Patricia Noppert says:

    Wow, you are a thoughtful individual! Thank you for the clear, easy to follow instructions. I wasn’t even aware of a low battery key message; I probably missed that. I bought by $8.49 battery at my dealer when I was waiting for my recall repairs to be made. So, Toyota still made money off me, but not $50. Thanks again.

  38. Ray says:

    My 2007 Camry will celebrate it’s 3rd anniversary next month. Last week my dealer replaced 1 low battery for free while doing the recall work. The next day my other fob began showing the low battery message. Your info will make the correction very easy. Thanks so much!

  39. Bruce says:

    I found your instructions in a couple of minutes of googling. Thanks for putting the instructions/pictures together…..it’s great. I figured out how to open it, but knowing the circuit board is just taped in will allow me to proceed with confidence!! BTW, both my car’s FOBs are showing low at almost exactly the same time……after having the car for just over 2 and a half years.

  40. Eddie says:

    Excellent post, I was going crazy trying to open the case to find the battery.

    Thanks again

  41. Eric says:

    Thanks for the quick Instructions. I ordered 5 off of

    http://www.bodylighting.com/Product_Details.asp?s=google&ProductID=19 for $7.30 and they sent 10

  42. Mike says:

    Thanks so much for the info. Bought the battery from Radio Shack ($4.99) and replaced it in 2 minutes. Great website. It saved me time and money. Once again THANKS!

  43. Cynthia says:

    Thank you SO MUCH. I am so glad I searched for this before going to the dealer.

    Got the battery $1.99 on Amazon and put it in easily.

  44. DED says:

    Thanks for posting this! You saved us about $45!

    Your instructions were clear and straightforward and the pictures were a bonus.

  45. Vasant Raja says:

    This was the best and the most detailed instructions on what is supposed to be an easy thing that will happen often as batteries have to replaced. I Thank You for this posting.

  46. Ian from YXE Canada says:

    My Dad wasnt sure he could do this himself and was thinking he might have to go the local dealer. Always wanting to help (and save some $) I grabbed his smart key and went on line. This was fantastic info with great photos I called the dealer and they sell the batteries for just a few bucks Way better than the 50$ suggested above. Nice to know all dealers arent ripping folks off. Now my Dad can charge his Starbuck’s card and buy me a coffee for fixing his key.

  47. Sri says:

    Thank you so much, this was the my first time replacement of battery for smart key of my 2008 Camry. This slide show helps very much. Thanks, Sri.