Intermittent Key Fob Problems with my 2006 Avalon

Hey, Internet peeps. As Jim Anchower would say, “I know it’s been a long time since I’ve rapped at ya…”  I’m writing today to document an automotive issue.

I recently purchased a sweet-ass 2006 Toyota Avalon Limited, and everything on it was smooth as silk for a couple of weeks but then we had a major thunderstorm blow through. The next morning, neither of my key fobs would unlock the car and the keyless starter proximity thingy couldn’t find them.  I had to unlock the car with the little emergency key that slides out of the fob, and to start it I had to hold the fob up against the start button (another emergency feature).

Long story short, rainwater was pouring down from the sunroof’s passenger side drain hole, down the headliner and down the A-pillar behind the interior trim, and onto a big-ass cluster of wires at the bottom of the passenger-side front fender/footwell area.  Once I dried these areas out, the fobs started working normally.

I was able to correctly diagnose the issue because about a week after the issue started, my son and I were driving around in another big-ass thunderstorm and he felt a drop of water hit his arm.

The most frustrating thing about this issue was that about 25% of the time, I’d go out to my car and the fobs would work. I took it to the dealership and wasted a pretty big chunk of change since they just threw parts at the problem instead of diagnosing anything.  Never going back to that place again.

The hilarious thing is that I bought a Toyota specifically for their legendary reliability.  I was tired of working on my own car all the time.  Lesson learned.  I’m still workin’ on my own car, and I’m still doing it better and cheaper than the stealership.

So here are some keywords and phrases that I came across while going bonkers trying to figure out WTF the deal was:

  • DCR (Door Control Receiver)
  • RKE (Remote Keyless Entry)
  • Smart Key System
  • ECU
  • “key fob won’t unlock car”
  • “key fob not recognized”
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