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Tech Forum

September/October 2018

Something Strange With The Range

The effective range of the key FOB for my Ford F150 seems to have decreased over recent months. While it used to work from distances of 75-100 yards easy, now I need to be nearly right in front (10-20 yards) of my vehicle to operate the systems. I changed to a fresh battery, but no difference. Is it likely there is an antenna problem? If so, where is it located and is there a test procedure?

Les Waldroup
Charlotte, NC

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Yes, that could be the problem, but remember you have two antennas, one is in the car someplace as well.

The FOB is easy to take apart. the antenna is most likely a trace on the circuit card unless it is very old. I doubt every manufacturer uses the same location but the most likely location is going to be at the end you point at the car.

Remember the online posts saying to increase the range of your FOB, point it at your chin? IMHO pointing at your face or chin had nothing to do with increasing the range except that you had to lift the FOB up a bit higher to point it at your chin. I found I could raise the FOB over my head and substantially increase the range. Till you find the problem you might try that as well.

Phil Karras, KE3FL
via email

I had a similar problem with the key fob for my ‘91 BMW. It got so bad that I had to hold the fob against the drivers window for it to work. After trying new batteries and testing the range of the transmitter at the local auto supply, I decided that the problem must be with the receiver which I found up inside the dash behind the instrument panel. After removing the circuit board from its case, I found that there was an antenna matching network with an adjustable inductor on the board that was not sealed. By speculating how gravity and 27 years of thermal cycling might effect the adjustment, I gave it a quarter of a turn in the opposite direction and, as luck would have it, my effective range was restored to over 100 feet. If your unit was factory installed you can probably find a shop manual at the public library to help you locate it and perhaps my fix will work for you. Good Luck with it.

Jack Noble
Shoreline, WA