I got a scary message from my 2011 Toyota Camry. “Key battery low,” the message on the dashboard read. You can read that two ways. “Key” could mean they key fob that unlocks and starts the car. Or “key” could mean “critical.” Fortunately, when a Toyota says key battery low, it means the key that unlocks and starts the car. Or the key fob, if that’s what your car uses.
You can fix this yourself and you don’t have to find a Toyota dealer.
The cheap, easy fix for a Toyota key battery low
The batteries they use vary, but my 2011 Camry uses a CR2032 battery, which you can buy just about anywhere. The CR2032 is a common Lithium battery that many electronic devices use for power. In electronic devices like keyfobs, they’re supposed to last about five years. I guess mine was due.
The last time I needed one, for one of my kids’ toys, Batteries Plus refused to sell me one. They sold me a package of 10. That was six months ago, and of course that means the nine unused batteries have long since disappeared.
The CR2032 is common enough that almost any pharmacy, hardware store, or discount store carries it. You may not be able to find a package of one, but certainly you can find a quantity smaller than 10. Don’t buy a huge package unless you know you’ll use them quickly, or know where to put it that you’re certain you’ll find it again.
If you want a really low price, it turns out the Dollar Tree usually sells a package of two for $1. It won’t last as long as a name-brand one, but if it’s an emergency and you’re near a Dollar Tree, that gets you out of a jam on the cheap. For the price difference, I decided to find out. I got a year out of that battery. So a brand-name battery like an Energizer will last longer. A dollar-store cheapie is just a quick temporary fix.
Changing the battery
Changing the battery is easy and you can do it yourself in about three minutes. Rather than repeat or duplicate it, I’ll link to Dr. Drang’s illustrated guide. My key fob looks a little different from his but his instructions worked perfectly on mine.
So don’t panic when your Toyota says key battery low. You can fix it yourself. It won’t cost a lot. And you probably have a few days to do it. But I wouldn’t recommend waiting too long.