Dear Tom and Ray: How does one change the key fob battery in a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI? Does the remote require a special process in order to be recognized by the Jetta after you’re done? Cheers! – DeWayne
Tom: No, it’s a piece of cake, DeWayne.
Ray: You probably have the old-style, “switchblade” key fob with a blue VW logo and three buttons on it (lock, unlock and trunk).
Tom: Assuming that’s the one you’ve got, all you do is press the button so the key springs out. Then turn it on its side. You should see a small groove about halfway up the side. Take a small flat-head screwdriver, insert the end in there and gently twist to pop open the two halves of the remote. Then pull them apart.
Ray: The section with the key will come off, and you’ll see that there’s nothing in it, other than the key.
Tom: But don’t throw it away. You might want it later.
Ray: Then take the other half of the remote and, with your hands, separate the front from the back. One half will house the circuit board, and the other half will contain the battery.
Tom: Pop the battery out gently with your screwdriver, and push in your replacement CR2032, 3-volt battery (positive end down), which you can get at any hardware or even drugstore.
Ray: Then snap the whole thing back together. It should require no reprogramming whatsoever.
Tom: If you bought a new remote – like my brother did last summer, after I went for a dip in the ocean with his remote in my pocket – that new remote would have to be matched up to your car.
Ray: And sometimes, with modern electronics, if you leave it without a battery for a long time, it can lose its programming memory. So don’t start this process and pop out the old battery until you have a replacement handy.
Tom: But it’s a trivial job, DeWayne. That’s why my brother never charges his customers more than $475 to do it!
Dear Tom and Ray: The clock in my Jeep Liberty requires resetting every two weeks. Apparently, the clock is moving backward in time. After two weeks, the clock will be three minutes slow. What causes this? Is this an indication of a larger problem? – Atom
Tom: Yes, it’s an indication of a larger problem. The problem is that Chrysler wasn’t aiming for bulletproof quality when they made this vehicle.
Ray: And apparently, they opted for a nine-cent clock. That’s why it runs slow: The clock is cheap junk, Atom.
Tom: The problem now is that it’ll cost you a lot more than the clock is worth to remove and replace it. You don’t say what year Liberty it is, but the clock probably is part of the radio display. So you’d have to replace the entire audio system just to fix the clock. And unless you’re still under warranty, that’s hardly worth the cost and trouble.
Ray: Besides, if the problem is in the manufacturing or design of an inferior part, you’ll only be replacing it with another one that’ll run slow, too. Maybe slower!
Tom: So you’re a candidate for a solution we haven’t recommended in many years now: Go buy one of those three-for-a-dollar, stick-on digital clocks, and slap it right over where your clock is.
Ray: It might not be any better in quality (It may even be the same clock!), but at least if it runs slow, you’ll have the satisfaction of ripping it off the dashboard, tossing it out the window at high speed and replacing it with a new one for 33 cents.
Tom: Actually, we don’t want to condone littering. So after you rip it off the dashboard, take it home with you and run over it a few times in your driveway … then sweep up the remains, and dispose of them properly, Atom.
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