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2020 Forester Limited (Cdn)
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Out of the blue, I can no longer unlock the doors of our almost-new 2020 馃殫 using the key fobs.
1) The keyless access feature is inoperative. While holding the fob in my hand, touching the door handle has no effect. Can't unlock (nor lock) the doors. Nor the rear hatch. The car doesn't seem to detect the presence of the nearby fob.

2) Similarly, pressing the unlock/lock buttons on the key fob is a no-op. The locking subsystem does not respond to the buttons.

My first thought was that the battery in the fob had died (it's only 2 months old), so I retrieved my wife's fob. It doesn't work either. Seems unlikely that both key fobs would simultaneously fail and/or drain their batteries.

Fortunately, I had programmed an unlock PIN code, and was able to unlock the driver door using the hidden lock button on the hatch. This demonstrates that the unlocking functionality is working OK (relays, lock solenoids, wiring). After getting in the driver's seat, I was able to start the engine with no problem. I did not have to place the fob against the start/stop button (the 'emergency' bypass procedure). In other words, the keyless access radio system detected the presence of the fob inside the vehicle and enabled push-button start.

A discussion with the Service Department at the dealer elicited an opinion that 'there's probably a short'. The earliest they can book a service appointment is five (5) weeks away. In the interim, we can get into the vehicle using the 'emergency' physical key (and then exit by locking it with the lock button on the interior armrest).

Any ideas what might be amiss (other than 'a short')? Since there's no CTRL-ALT-DEL reboot command, I'm tempted to disconnect/reconnect the battery and see if that resets the various control units.

Thanks for any insights.
 

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2015 forester, 6 speeds and a quart of oil
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137 Posts
A five-week wait is completely unacceptable.

Maybe you should park it in front of the service center doors, block their drive, and "accidentally" lock it while "forgetting" the physical key? That should keep them busy for a while and they may end up offering you a loaner.
 

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2018 Forester CVT
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151 Posts
Are the FOBs near the car such as you hang on hooks next to the garage. I did change the batteries on my 2018 after a year not because they weren't working but I wondered how "fresh" they were. On the key I don't have a FOB it takes a CR1620 coin battery similar to the coin type on on a computer motherboard. Not sure if they work like bluetooth type of communication always calling "home" aka car if its near bye. I know I have to change the battery in the wife's FOB (Escape 2013) when she complains so I made it habit to change once a year on her birthday; yes a cheap birthday present :sneaky:
 

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2020 Forester Limited (Cdn)
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
A five-week wait is completely unacceptable.
I agree completely, but that's a topic for another thread!
I've been a customer at this dealership for over two decades. That makes their offer of a mid-December service appointment even more galling.

Are the FOBs near the car such as you hang on hooks next to the garage.
Nope - the fobs aren't kept near the garage. The Forester lives in the driveway. We've only had it a couple of months, so the batteries in the fobs should not be exhausted. Certainly not both dead, simultaneously. As I mentioned in the first post, the fobs appear to be alive, in that the ECU detects the presence of the fob when I'm sitting in the driver's seat, and thus enables push-button start. If the fob was dead, I don't think the push-button start would be active.
 

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2019 Sport CVT
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660 Posts
On the subject of push-to-start fobs trying to talk to a car and draining its battery down. If you have a fob you don鈥檛 normally use, or maybe only use on the weekend, you can turn a fob off when it鈥檚 not needed.

On the fob, Press and hold the lock button. Press the unlock twice and release the lock button. The LED on the fob will blink 4 times. So the battery is not being drained. Press any button on the fob to wake it up and make it fully functional. (Note if it鈥檚 still asleep you can press it against the Push to Start button and the Press to Start will detect it. So you can drive with a dead fob battery)
 

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2020 Forester Limited (Cdn)
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Good tip - thanks. I will take note of it for the future.
But the problem I'm currently having is not due to depleted fob batteries.

(your dog is very lucky to have his/her own '12 Forester:)
 

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Regardless that the prob is most likely not because of flat batteries in both fobs, I would still put in a fresh one to give it a go. They cost very little and it could end up being a cheap fix, avoid 5 weeks of frustration, and avoid embarrassment when the dealer says "Oh, we just changed the battery in the fob". :oops:

I don't know where the aerial is but assume it is inside the car. If the fobs signal is not strong enough because of lack of power, the car may not be able to pick up the signal through the metal body. With bluetooth tv remotes etc I have found that when the battery is low the remotes will mostly work but one function will refuse to.
 

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2020 Forester Limited (Cdn)
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I don't know where the aerial is but assume it is inside the car.
According to the manual (P113), there are 6 different antennae for the keyless access system. One on or near the driver and passenger door handles, one near the rear hatch, and three inside the cabin.

Presumably, some are designed to detect the radio signals from the fobs when they are outside the vehicle (for locking/unlocking doors), and others when fob is at the driver's seat (to enable keyless start). Given that neither fob is working for the lock/unlock functions, my guess is that the radio receiver(s) or related circuitry that handle the signals from outside the car are on the fritz. Fortunately, Subaru provides an emergency physical key to use when all the high tech goes south.

Batteries in the fobs both test OK.
Screen Shot 2020-11-12 at 7.50.11 PM.png
 

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2019 Forester Touring
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200 Posts
....
I mentioned in the first post, the fobs appear to be alive, in that the ECU detects the presence of the fob when I'm sitting in the driver's seat, and thus enables push-button start. If the fob was dead, I don't think the push-button start would be active.
It is possible to disable the proximity functions of the key fob. I can't imagine that you did that by accident. But trying the 're-enable' sequence from the manual won't hurt anything. Give it a try.

Enable Fob: (Ignition off, BTW)
Open driver door.
Press and release door power lock button on the door panel.
Press and hold both Lock and Rear Gate buttons on the key fob for 7 seconds.
Hear short beep to indicate fob is re-enabled.
 

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oh my goodness! This is happening to me right now! I went out to the parking garage to head out to work, and my usual key wasn't able to open the car. Crazy I thought! It was brand new in January. I retrieved my other fob to that not working either. Waiting for the car dealership to call me back. I was hoping for a relatively easy fix - thinking they might be able to reset remotely, but reading about your issue that doesn't seem likely. It's been a few days since the last entry so wondered if you've resolved it. It's crazy to me NOT to have a regular key to open the flippin' door!
 

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2020 Forester Limited (Cdn)
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
oh my goodness! This is happening to me right now! I went out to the parking garage to head out to work, and my usual key wasn't able to open the car. Crazy I thought! It was brand new in January. I retrieved my other fob to that not working either.
Lorna,
So sorry to hear that your Forester is afflicted with the same defect.
Here's an update on my situation.
On Friday, I headed out on an errand: a Click 'n Collect grocery pickup. I walked out to the car carrying the keyfob in one hand and the hidden 'emergency' key in the other, intending to unlock the door with the physical key. I got to the driver's door, and for fun, tried lifting the handle. To my surprise, the door unlocked!!!
I tapped the locking touch-pad on the handle, and the door locked!! The car was once again detecting the presence of the keyfob.

I stepped back from the door and pushed the Unlock button on the fob. The door unlocked. Then pressed the Lock button. The door locked. The car was now responding to button pushes on the fob. All the problems I had encountered earlier in the week had vanished.

Got in the car, started the engine, drove to the grocery store (about 5 minutes away), picked up groceries and returned home. Back in the driveway, I exited the car and touched the locking touch-pad on the door handle. Nothing! The Forester was no longer detecting the presence of the key fob. I tried pressing the Lock button on the fob. Nothing! It no longer responded to the radio signals transmitted by the keyfob.

To lock the doors, I had to open the driver's door and use the low-tech non-wireless lock button on the armrest.

This failure is intermittent, making it even harder for dealer to diagnose and repair. That's assuming my dealer will deign to look at it anytime soon. If your dealer is able to fix yours, please post back with what they found and what they did to repair it.
 

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Thanks for the updates!! I too, am going to keep following this thread, because I'm not sure if my problem is "user error" (quite possible!) or if there really is a problem with my key fob. I THOUGHT that all I had to do was touch the "lock sensor" place on the door handle (with the fob in my pocket or purse), and the door should lock or unlock. But while that does work sometimes, it's not every time & I have to manually press the lock or unlock button on the fob. And it has even locked me out of the car with the fob inside twice! Fortunately I've had my phone with me & was able to unlock it through the app both times, but it is unsettling to say the least!

I'm not going to make a special trip to the dealer for just this, but it's on my list of things to be addressed when I take it in for it's first oil change/service at the beginning of the year.
 

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2020 Forester Limited (Cdn)
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
I THOUGHT that all I had to do was touch the "lock sensor" place on the door handle (with the fob in my pocket or purse), and the door should lock or unlock.
You are correct - that is how it's supposed to work. When mine was working, I found it might take a 'long-touch' on the sensor (perhaps a second or two) before the door would lock. Whereas the unlock was pretty quick - near instantaneous.

You're lucky - you can still press the buttons on the fob. When my 2020 gets into this comatose mode, it doesn't respond to either keyless access touches nor keyfob button pushes.
 

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Interesting... may I ask if the lock works in the cold weather while not working in the warmer temp in your garage? If so, may be a connection issue. Like the control module power or ground wire is not connecting in certain temp? Just guessing. My old 2010 forester tpms will not read any signal when temp below 32*f.
 

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2020 Forester Limited (Cdn)
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
may I ask if the lock works in the cold weather while not working in the warmer temp in your garage?
The Forester never lives in the garage (garage is small and is too full of 'stuff'...).
Since getting it in August, we've not really had any weather extremes. The temp got down to freezing last night for the first time this season. But the failure could well be due to a dodgy electrical connection, or perhaps a bad RF connection in the antenna subsystem that receives the radio signals from the fob. But only the exterior antennae. The fob is detected when it's in/at the driver's seat -- the wireless start function works OK.
 

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2019 Forester Limited
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794 Posts
My only thought is to check the connection at your TPMS/Keyless Entry Control Module to make sure the module connector is firmly in place. I believe it is located behind the left side panel in the rear, but have never looked for it. Diagnostics beyond this are pretty involved and mostly require use of the Subaru Select Monitor. Hopefully when you get it to the dealer there is a stored code that leads them to a solution.

544370


544372
 

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2020 Forester Limited (Cdn)
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
My only thought is to check the connection at your TPMS/Keyless Entry Control Module to make sure the module connector is firmly in place. I believe it is located behind the left side panel in the rear, but have never looked for it.
Thanks for the suggestion. My Forester doesn't have TPMS (not required in Canada:), but I'm sure there's a KEC module hidden somewhere.

Can I ask the source of the diagram and step-by-step that you posted. Is that available on-line to mere mortals like myself, or part of a dealer-only repository of service info?

I dropped off the Forester at the dealer earlier today. Although they're not booking service appointments until mid-Demeber, they hope to be able to take a look this week. I'll update this post if/when they have anything to report.
 

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2019 Forester Limited
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794 Posts
Please do post what the dealer reports back. Thanks

Your module should be in the same spot whether or not it has TPMS included. See Note 3 in the first picture.

The screen grabs are from the 2019 shop manual. You can buy a three-day subscription and then download all the sections. It's quite the laborious process. The manual is meant to be web-based, so the links to different sections no longer work, but it's not a big deal. http://techinfo.subaru.com/html/referenceHome.jsp
 

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2020 Forester Limited (Cdn)
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
The screen grabs are from the 2019 shop manual. You can buy a three-day subscription and then download all the sections.
Thanks. I didn't know about on-line manual, subscriptions, etc.
Have bookmarked the URL for future reference.
 

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2020 Forester Limited (Cdn)
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
OP here, with an update on my keyless access problem.

I took the car into dealer on Tuesday. Although they had no service appointments available until mid-Dec, they agreed to look at it on a best-effort basis. They called Fri am and said to come pick it up - no fault found.
In fact, it had malfunctioned once, when the tech first went out to look at it. The access system did not respond to the keyfob buttons. But after that, they were unable to reproduce the problem. Service advisor told me that they'd taken it into the shop and looked at it a few time, but the keyless access system was rock solid. No interventions were attempted. They did not unplug/replug the TPMS/Keyless Entry control module which might have been a logical course of action...

I retrieved the car from the dealer on Friday am. I did some quick tests and the keyless access features were working fine. After lunch, drove to Home Depot (15 minutes) and back. Got out of the car and tried to lock it with the keyfob LOCK button. Na-da. The car had stopped responding to the fob.

Did a bunch of tests, pushing the keyfob buttons while standing on the driver side, on the passenger side, and right behind the hatch. No response. The tiny red LED on the fob flashes as it transmits signals (at 433 MHz, in case anyone is interested), but the car was non-responsive. Until I got right next to the driver door. Once within a couple of feet of the front door handle, the presence of the keyfob was detected, and the Welcome lighting (white LED in the side mirror) illuminated. Once it came on, the car started responding to key fob button pushes. And as you'd expect, the keyless access features activated - unlock by lifting door handle, lock by touching the sensor pad on the door handle.

This failure mode was rock solid - totally repeatable. I reproduced it a half-dozen times, at both the driver door and front passenger door. The car ignored the fob buttons until the keyless access subsystem detected the presence of the the fob (a few feet from either front door). Then the buttons became functional.

If you've been following this thread from the start, you'll notice that this failure mechanism is different that what I first encountered. A week ago, the car was oblivious to both button pushes and the nearby presence of a fob.

Then three hours later (6 pm), the problems vanished, just as mysteriously as they had reappeared earlier in the day. The car started responding normally to both keyfob buttons and presence, and has continued to be OK the few times I've tested it today.

Perhaps my Forester is afflicted with an automotive variant of the Havana Syndrome.
 
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