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Car Remote Not Working? 5 Ways to Accurately Diagnose Your Vehicle

by Nilesh Pancholi

Car key fobs or remotes have come to be essential accessories that make the lives of car owners and drivers a lot more convenient. Apart from allowing keyless entrance to vehicles, they also offer the added benefit of enhanced automotive security, providing controls for a car’s alarm system and other car mechanisms. As much convenience as a car remote offers, though, it can also mean a huge inconvenience once it begins malfunctioning. A faulty key fob prevents you from interacting with your vehicle remotely. It also limits and/or disables safety functions that the fob controls. When this happens, you need immediate car key fob replacement or repair to restore such conveniences and functions.

Diagnosing the need for remote key fob repair is as easy as observing its daily functions and use. You don’t necessarily have to tear into your device in order to know when it needs repair or replacement.

  1. If you are observing inconsistencies with your key fob’s functions, the problem could be as simple as weak batteries, or perhaps something more complex, such as damaged wiring or internal connections. If you are having to press buttons multiple times for a command to take or if controls don’t seem to work unless you’re within close proximity of your vehicle, check your batteries. If the problem persists after changing the fob’s batteries, it’s high time to consider remote key fob repair.

  2. Another way to diagnose a weak battery or perhaps faulty internal connections is testing with your spare key fob.

  3. Car remotes suffer a lot of handling abuse, which is why it is not uncommon for them to get damaged. Rattling inside your key fob could mean broken internal pieces or perhaps faulty internal connections.

  4. An unresponsive car remote is an obvious sign of a problem. You may likewise use your spare key to rule out any problem with the remote receiver. If functions work fine with your spare key fob, a car key fob replacement is in order.

  5. Perhaps you have purchased an aftermarket key fob or are using your spare remote for the first time. Make sure to get it programmed to your vehicle before spending on a replacement or repair. Car remotes have to be programmed to a specific vehicle to ensure security.

Autotronics is your one-stop in-circuit repair shop specializing in a long list of auto repair services, including remote key fob repair and car key fob replacement, immobiliser or transponder repair, instrument cluster repair, and ECU servicing, among many other issues with your vehicle’s electrical system.

The Benefits of Having Professional Instrument Cluster Repair

by Nilesh Pancholi

Cars are complex pieces of the machine with lots of moving parts and complicated components. It is your responsibility as a car owner to know how to keep up with its maintenance as well as its overall health. Your vehicle’s instrument cluster plays an important role in keeping your machine in good condition as it tells you a great deal of information about your car’s performance as well as the health of its most critical components. With the instrument cluster, you can find out about your engine’s internal temperature as well as other details like how fast you are going. Over time, however, your instrument cluster may likewise show signs of wear itself and require repair or maintenance. A faulty instrument cluster makes it difficult to pinpoint faults within your vehicle’s system, which is why it is crucial to get professional instrument cluster repair when your cluster is displaying symptoms of wear or damage.

Your vehicle’s instrument cluster in itself has a lot of moving parts, so it can be difficult for the untrained eye to pinpoint the root cause of the problem. By working with a professional, you’ll be able to tell and address the real problem through proper troubleshooting, saving you a great deal of time, money, and effort in performing repairs that you don’t actually need. Skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced professionals will be able to recommend the proper instrument cluster repair services that your machine requires to bring your vehicle back to shape.

In times when your instrument cluster needs replacement, contracting a professional is also ideal so as to make sure that the right components are installed and other parts are protected from damage. Attempting to repair or replace your instrument cluster without ample knowledge and experience could result to more problems than your car originally had, which is why it is always best to work with professionals when dealing with instrument cluster repair. Trained personnel will be able to restore you’re your car to tip top condition in no time, and without causing further damage to your vehicle’s internal systems and components.

An authority when it comes to in-circuit repairs and auto electronics issues, Autotronics is the best place to get your vehicle serviced and restored to tip top condition, whether you are having trouble with your body control module, climate control unit, info display, or perhaps when your vehicle requires instrument cluster repair.

All You Need to Know About Key Fob Replacement

by Nilesh Pancholi

If you’ve ever been locked out of your vehicle, keys inside or perhaps lost somewhere and you have no spare on hand, you’ll understand just how stressful and frustrating the predicament can be—and you’ll know better to keep a car key fob replacement handy for when something similar happens in the future. While you wouldn’t want to experience ever losing your remote key, the possibility of misplacing or leaving your key fob inside your vehicle is always a real danger. Rough handling may likewise cause damage, for which you will need an automotive locksmith to help you with remote key fob repair.

Remote car key controls are extremely convenient pieces of technology. They’re almost magical. Fobs are small electronic devices that do not only bring convenience but offer another layer of security to your vehicle, featuring strong, built-in authentication mechanisms and protocols so that only the person possessing it can access the vehicle. In general, fobs are small, non-descript devices that can be carried around everywhere. They help users get into work, the gym, their vehicle, and other electronically locked doors. Car key fobs are unique in that they are typically integrated into car keys, wrapped around the key head so that it is easier for you to lock, unlock, sound or disable the alarm, or even start your car with one push of a button. Car key fobs, however, are not impervious to damage and because of their tiny size, they are prone to get lost. This is why it pays knowing how you can get quality car key fob replacement services when this happens.

Key fobs are much like remote control systems that are carefully and wirelessly programmed, specific to your vehicle. This way, you can’t access other cars and other key fobs can’t access yours. You need a qualified professional to do remote key fob repair in order to ensure proper programming of your fob. Other times, however, the problem is as simple as a dead battery, which is easy enough to replace yourself, but when in doubt, it is always best to contact a professional to make sure that your fob is in good working order.

Autotronics is a leading provider of in-circuit repair services and other technical repairs, including remote key fob repair and issues with vehicle electronics. The company offers vast technical expertise, knowledge, and experience in providing the best solutions for every car issue presented.

What it Means if Your Mercedes Instruments Fail

by Nilesh Pancholi

If there’s one car brand that’s a complete package of quality, durability, and prestige, it would be Mercedes-Benz. Many car owners see Mercedes-Benz vehicles as some of the best in the market, with models reflecting high-end designs and addressing modern-day concerns over issues like fuel-efficiency and ride comfort. Mercedes cars are equal parts status symbols and workhorses. They are as much a glam car as they are great for daily use, offering great efficiency and accommodating all kinds of drivers and riders. Mercedes-Benz units, however, are not immune to problems, particularly with its instrument cluster. When your vehicle develops issues requiring instrument cluster repair, it is important to address the need immediately in order to restore your machine to its optimal function and performance.

When there’s trouble with vehicle’s instrument cluster different aspects of your car’s performance may be affected, ranging from its speed to its fuel efficiency, mileage, oil pressure, oil level, and coolant levels—all of which impact your riding comfort and the car’s overall performance and efficiency. Don’t wait until you need instrument cluster repair before getting your machine checked by a professional. Regular maintenance is your best defense against costly repairs and long downtimes without a car to drive. However, there are times when instrument cluster damage is inevitable and could lead to a total or partial failure of your vehicle some of the most common issues you might face with your Mercedes instrument cluster include:

  1. Electrical issues. Faulty car electrics may lead to failure of your instrument cluster or malfunctions in certain components.  Other times, gear issues and faulty gauges are to blame. When your Mercedes model experiences backlight failure, a simple LED upgrade could improve visibility and fix the issue. However, total failure may need more involved instrument cluster repair, such as a replacement of the entire cluster or its power circuitry.

  2. Parts acquisition. Another common problem that Mercedes owners face when having their instrument cluster serviced is finding the right components to ensure that their cluster is rebuilt to original specifications. The key is finding a place that can provide you with parts and services that are up to par with OEM standards.

Choose Autotronics for your instrument cluster repair needs and other in-circuit repair requirements. The company has been serving the automotive market for many years, amassing great experience and expertise that make them one of the most trusted service providers when it comes to vehicle electronics maintenance and repair.

How to Reduce Key Fob Replacement Cost

by Nilesh Pancholi
Key Fob Replacement

Modern cars come with remote transponder keys (key fobs) that add great convenience to a car owner’s experience. Losing your key fob or damaging your transponder key in any way can be a huge hassle— especially when you’ve gotten to be dependent on its convenience features. Key fobs make locking and unlocking car doors seamless and effortless, giving you peace of mind that your vehicle is always locked and protected. They also ease parking woes, especially for those who always find it difficult to remember where their spot is in a huge parking area. Misplacing this all-important piece of device is a real danger that calls for immediate car key fob replacement if you are to continue enjoying the perks of having remote access to your car. Don’t panic—you can always get help.

Car key fob replacement services are not cheap, but they also shouldn’t be overly expensive. A good way to minimize cost of your remote car key replacement is to find a service outside of your actual dealership. While your dealership may be your first port of call whenever something goes wrong with your vehicle, it pays knowing third party services that can help you with smaller issues and give you much better deals than your car manufacturer or supplier can afford. The great thing about third-party service providers is that they can offer products, parts, and services without the high price tag of a brand name service center.

It also pays planning ahead for the possibility of a car key fob replacement. Having a replacement remote key made even before you need one is also a good way to keep your costs low, as you will avoid having to pay for rush fees and other associated costs and service-related charges. This will also save you from being locked out of your vehicle for long, having to leave your vehicle behind, or having to hire a tow service to keep your car in a safe place while you wait for your key fob to be replaced.

Autotronics is your one-stop shop for in-circuit repairs and other auto works like car key fob replacement. With more than 20 years of experience in the field, Autotronics has already earned a solid reputation when it comes to a quality auto parts and component repairs from remote controls to immobilizer and air bag ECU, engine ECU, body control module, and so much more.

Improve your driving experience with our ECU tuning service

by Nilesh Pancholi
ECU tuning service

In this increasingly digital age the computer chip is king. For those of you who’ve read our previous posts on the various functions of the ECU, you’ll know the important role it plays in the operation of the modern motor vehicle. From controlling ABS, to turbo boosters and central locking, the ECU is the heart of your vehicle. Interestingly, this can also be tuned or reprogrammed to improve various functions of the vehicle and its performance.

Here we take a look at some of the main improvements that ECU tuning can make to your vehicle.

Improved fuel efficiency

Because the ECU chip is situated in the injection system and controls the levels of fuel and air that mix, it can easily be reprogrammed to change this ratio, thus changing the performance of the car. One benefit of this can be improved fuel efficiency.

If the power and torque increases associated with re-tuning are in place, then this can lead to a change in driving style: for example, spending less time in lower gears and needing to accelerate for less time. With more power, the temptation is for drivers to drive the car for fun, not economy, so those gains can easily be lost!

Speed and performance

The main benefit comes in the form of increased power. When the default software on the ECU is changed, the fuel mapping can be changed to increase speed boost. When the factory turbo is increased – i.e. the amount of air in the cylinder is increased – more fuel can be added and burned, resulting in more power.

At Autotronics, all our ECU tuning solutions strictly complies with the factory safety margins specified by the manufacturers, so you can be certain that our remapping won’t affect the rest of components of your car: cylinders, brakes, suspension system, etc.

Money saving

Ultimately, remapping the engine of your car can save you money. After the initial cost of the procedure, the increased fuel efficiency and changes to the way you drive should result in a lower fuel bill. This is especially important if we take into account the current fuel prices, whether your car uses petrol or diesel.

At Autotronics, we can offer you customised ECU tuning alternatives to achieve any of the above improvements, or a combination of them. So, don’t hesitate to contact our experts to discuss about your specific needs; they will surely give you the best technical advise and professional guidance.

Hella turbo actuators: loss of pressure, limp mode and other issues

by Nilesh Pancholi
Hella turbo actuator problems

We've all felt the frustration of a turbo that doesn't pack a punch any more. Whether it's a loss of acceleration, those concerning engine sounds that indicate that the pressure could actually be building up to dangerous levels, or the possible electronic faults associated with turbos. Here we take a look at Hella turbo actuators and how to understand issues that you might be experiencing.

What is a turbo actuator?

The turbo actuator (which is also known as a wastegate actuator) is a pressure relief valve that regulates the power output of the turbo on your car, channelling away excess exhaust gases so they cannot affect the turbine wheel. This in turn regulates the turbine's speed, and prevents it from over-spinning, which also controls the speed of the compressor. All of this acts as protection to the turbocharger, stopping it from getting damaged by wear and tear by limiting the pressure of the turbo to a harmless level.

A wastegate actuator is actually quite simple: it is made up of a spring and a diaphragm. The spring holds it shut and when the pressure reaches a certain predetermined level, it opens, letting the gas evacuate, thus reducing the pressure build up. In modern vehicles, inevitably, this process involves more electronics and works in conjunction with the ECU, creating what is effectively an electric actuator – a Hella turbo actuator being an example.

Problems and solutions

So, what are the symptoms of problems with your actuator and what can you do to resolve them? Eventually, excess pressure and heat will begin to weaken the spring of your actuator and affect its performance. This often results in the wastegate opening early, therefore limiting the pressure output and effectiveness of the turbo; this will bring the car into limp mode.

The diaphragm is also prone to failure. This means that the valve won't open properly, leading to the pressure rising excessively, which can cause serious, long term damage to the car engine.

These issues aren't something which can't be easily remedied without technical knowledge. The first solution in both cases is to have your actuator checked immediately. An alternative to this is to consider fitting a bleed valve, which introduces a precise air escape into the wastegate pressure line, forcing the turbo to create a stronger boost to activate the actuator. But even with a bleed valve you will still need to know that the actuator is functioning properly, and in the case of Hella turbo actuators this will involve a series of checks to ensure electronic components are functioning properly with the car's ECU.

That's where Autotronics can help you. We are specialists in checking and repairing electronic car parts. Our guaranteed repair services are always more affordable solutions, compared to exorbitant replacement costs from main dealership. So, if you think you're having problems with your turbo actuator, then get in touch today.

Wabco, Knorr Bremse, Haldex… we have valves for all commercial vehicles

by Nilesh Pancholi
Truck on the road

If you drive a truck for a living, you'll be familiar with air valves in your commercial vehicle. They are responsible for controlling the heavy duty braking and suspension systems needed for larger vehicles. Here we explore their role in the smooth operation of your vehicle, the common faults that you may experience, and how to diagnose them.

What is an air valve?

An air valve is the component within your air suspension that allows the height of the air 'springs' to change, allowing your commercial vehicle's suspension to adequately support the weight of variable loads. The valve is typically attached to the frame of the vehicle and connects to the suspension with a signal link. When the suspension changes in height, the valve responds by adding or removing air to maintain even suspension.

Within the braking system the valves have a similar role. Air brakes are permanently applied, and the application of a gradual release system allows the brakes to lessen in relation to the acceleration of the vehicle. The valves regulate this process, and maintenance valves ensure that the air can be drained when the vehicle isn't in use.

How do I know if my air valves are faulty?

Common faults may highlight a problem with air valves. If your steering veers in one direction, this could indicate a problem with the consistency of the air regulation which affects the suspension. Another issue could be that continuous movement of the suspension can change the position of the control arms that keep the wheels in position. The only way to determine the root of the problem is to have the vehicle checked or serviced by a professional.

Air brakes can be affected by similar issues. Any compressed air system can commonly be subject to leaks or kinks in pipework which can affect the smooth application of the brakes. If drivers are experiencing jerky brake release, or over-sensitivity (often the cause of jack-knifing incidents on the road), then it could be a problem with the valves within the system. Again, commercial vehicles should be checked by a competent person to establish the faults before any driving is done given the risk from heavy loads on busy motorways.

If the fault is diagnosed as being related to the valves within the compressed air systems on your vehicle then get in touch with Autotronics. We can diagnose and repair faults and we can supply Wabco, Knorr Bremse and Haldex valves for commercial vehicles.
Autotronics is rated 5 stars on Trusted Shops, so you can be confident you can buy with peace of mind. And using our services will always work out cheaper than a dealership. So, if your braking or suspension valves aren't performing as they should, get in touch and let us do the rest.

Immobilisers: if your car is not starting, you need to read this

by Nilesh Pancholi
Most common immobiliser faults

It's one of the wonders of modern car ownership. You can close your car miraculously from a distance, with a nonchalant click of a button. Even when you forget to do this and leave your car open, it will still probably be safe due to the keys needing to be within a certain distance of the vehicle (if you have a fancy car) or, otherwise, thanks to the good old-fashioned immobiliser.

For anyone who isn't au fait with the technology, the immobiliser works together with the car's Engine Control Unit (ECU) to check a unique code in the ignition with a code imprinted on the key. Without this electronic key system interlocking, the car will not be authorised to start.

But with technology this advanced, there will of course be drawbacks. Especially at this time of year, there will be dozens of drivers hearing that familiar turning over of the engine while they sit in the cold hoping for it to catch. All is not lost! Here we've explored common immobiliser faults, and what you can do about them.

Damaged wiring can be a problem in an older car. Wiring can become corroded over time. The immobiliser usually has two relays: one is for the fuel pump and one is for the starter motor. The starter relay is the more likely to fail. To test this, try to check if the fuel pump is priming.

The next job will always be to check warning lights, but other signs may be subtler. If the engine is dead and won't even turn over, or turning over but not starting, then it's time to do some further diagnosis. If the lights are on but the engine is not turning over, then you can already rule out a flat battery.

Other simple tests can include testing the keys with another key for that model (a ‘swap test') or replacing the batteries in the key fob to ensure that this isn't causing the problem. It could even be a battery issue, in which case testing another battery could be worth a try, to narrow down the cause of the issue.

If, after checking all the above, you still have a problem with your immobiliser, don't hesitate to give us a call or contact us via email or chat. At Autotronics we can offer great savings – of up to 80% – compared to main dealerships, depending on the service required. Our turnaround times are usually 1 to 4 days, from receiving the item to sending it back to you, and we offer international coverage.

My mileage isn't reading: A common fault in some instrument clusters and how to solve it

by Nilesh Pancholi
Faulty odometer repair

Depending on the age of your vehicle, you may have a manual odometer – that thing measuring your mileage – which usually has white numbers on a black background slowly ticking around. If your car is new, you may have a digital odometer. The truth is, both are prone to faults when it comes to recording your mileage. Here are some of the most common, and the likely causes and solutions.

Manual odometer

The odometer works by a series of gears which drive the turning display. These have a tendency to break, which can cause the odometer to stop spinning. Happily, there is a solution to this. If your odometer and your speedometer have both stopped working, this is likely to be related to your speed sensor, which is placed near your car's transmission. To replace either the gears in the odometer, or the speed sensor, is likely to involve digging around behind the panels and a certain degree of specialist knowledge, so the best solution is for you to send the instrument cluster to Autotronics for repair.

Digital odometer

If you're in the digital realm, then the fault is usually only skin deep. Although the display on the instrument cluster may not be reading properly, the actual mileage information is still available on the chip in the body control module. In short, the mileage information isn't lost.

As for the cluster reading, this can be seen almost like a monitor on a computer showing you the information. Just like a monitor, sometimes this can be as simple as a loose connection, or (in the case of a car) it can be caused by blown fuses or lowering of the display dimming. If these are both OK, and if you have any knowledge of electronics, it can be worth checking the connections yourself underneath the cluster panel. Like any electronics it can also be worth carrying out a 'swap test': a test with another panel that you know to be working to see if it connects properly and reads on the display. If all the connectors and fuses are OK, then it might be a good idea to send the dashboard to Autotronics, so that we can check all the internal electronic components and fix whatever issue there might be.

Lastly, if you're unsure if the fault could be in the panel or in the computer itself, or if you don't have the technical knowledge to test the units, the best approach is always to ask the experts. At Autotronics we carry out expert bench testing on a range of auto electronic equipment, including instrument clusters, with express shipping back giving turnaround times of between 2 and 4 working days. It's always better value to have electronic components repaired with us, than to pay for costly dealership repairs, so let us sort out those digital niggles today, and get your car running smoothly again!


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