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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, here's my story (2013 Mazda3 HB): So the other day the battery went out in my key fob. I have a push button start, so of course it wouldn't start when I pushed the button, so I pulled the key out of the key fob and figured I could start my car that way...but the key would not turn at all. I decided to check the key in the door and I was able to lock/unlock the door.

Question #1 : Shouldn't I be able to start my car with the key?

I also figured I'd call the dealer where I purchased my car at to see what they say. I talked to a guy in the service department and he stated that I should be able to hold up the Mazda emblem on the key fob up to the start button and the car would be able to start (pressing the start button, of course). I figured he didn't understand what I was saying to him, so I hung and decided that I'd check with the forum before I go back to them.

Question #2 : Is this true? I have not tried it yet, since I put a new battery in my remote already.

thanks,
jegonzo3
 

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Yes, it should be true. There are videos on youtube that Mazda actually released indicating what to do when your battery dies in the key fob. You do as the guy at the service department said. You basically hold the key up to your push start button, and push the start button. Should start right up.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Interesting, I'll have to take my battery out and test that for future use, should it become necessary. Why do they also have a key slot on the steering wheel column?
 

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Demon Spawn
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the instructions for this are in the manual, I read that over thoroughly as I did not want this happening to me. the manual states to take the key out of the fob and insert it into the hole in the steering column, this will allow you to use the push button start, you then use the push button and start as normal. so basically if your fob dies you take the key out, you can unlock the doors with it then the key hole to start it is under a cover (mine is AWOL, since I bought the car it was gone)

so I figured after reading this the prior owner must have had the fob die and had to use this feature. the intelligent keys get a year of battery life if your lucky I got almost exactly 5 months out of mine (it died 1 day after purchase and I put a new one in, it recently died again, same fob) I think mine die fast because my work phone is Verizon and seems to interfere with it some, though my personal phone through sprint never does (when my work phone is not in my pocket or on me at all, like weekends, I never have an issue) but when the work phone is in my pocket I occasionally will not be able to unlock the car with the door button, and just moving the fob away from the phone slightly resolves this. same with starting most of the time it will let me in no issue 98%ish of the time otherwise I just jiggle the keys or take my phone out and it works, but starting seems to need a stronger signal from the fob so I get interference inside more I would say 15-25% of the time I get in my car to start it with my work phone in my pocket it says "advanced key not found" and wont start again jiggling the keys or phone or taking the phone/keys out of my pocket seems to do the trick. I notice it does it less if the top of the phone faces out of my pocket rather than down in the pocket but not a huge difference maybe 5% less.

directly from the 2012 owners manual, its the same procedure as my 2011 and 10,11,12,13 should all be similar (though the page number I reference maybe different depending on year model)
from page 3-15 of the owners manual (maybe different dependent on year but around that number and in chapter 3)

Starting the engine using the auxiliary key If the engine cannot be started for reasons such as the advanced key battery is dead, the engine can be started using the auxiliary key.

1. Slide the auxiliary key out from the bottom of the advanced key.
2. Use the auxiliary key to remove the key slot cover.
3. Depress the clutch pedal (manual transaxle) or the brake pedal (automatic transaxle) until the ring around the key slot starts flashing.
4. Insert the auxiliary key into the slot while it is flashing, but DO NOT TURN THE AUXILIARY KEY IN THE SLOT (I have done this and saw no flashing so I think the aux key can be put in and car started without the flashing part, again I have an 11 this is out of a 12s manual from online so different years may flash)
5. Press the push button start to start the engine

this caution is important from the manual too: After inserting the auxiliary key, do not attempt to turn it in the key slot. It could damage the vehicle or the auxiliary key.

and notes: Leave the auxiliary key in the key slot while the engine is running. When leaving the vehicle, remove the auxiliary key from the key slot and the vehicle. To switch the ignition position, insert the auxiliary key into the key slot and press the push button start without the clutch pedal (manual transaxle) or the brake pedal (automatic transaxle) depressed.

to shut the engine off with the aux key you:
1. Stop the vehicle completely.
2. (Manual transaxle) Shift into neutral. (Automatic transaxle) Shift the shift lever to the P position.
3. Press the push button start to turn off the engine (and my notes: take the aux key out of the slot and back into your fob, replace the fob batteries very soon as this procedure is annoying on a push button start car)


on the 14+ (at least with my dads 6) the procedure is different, there is no aux key to start the car just used to unlock doors if the fob dies, on the 14s, and up I would assume, you push the mazda logo end of the keyfob gently against the push button of the push button start, the light on the push button start will turn green and then you start the car as you would with the push button start, this is because the fob has what appears to be an rf chip that communicates with an rf reader in the push button and that allows the car to start without a fob if it is dead. ours have probably the same system just done differently, mazda probably found a way to put the aux reader for starting behind the button instead of a separate slot, that and I think most 14+ have push button start anyways I think every 6 does no matter trim, not sure on the 3. so that would mean no dead spot to put the reader in, as our aux key reader is in the dead spot the normal key start system is.

Normally when the fob is alive it sends codes between it and the computer (rf type) and code hops as well as uses encrypted codes so someone cannot easily take the code, this allow unlocking/starting etc. but when the fob is dead this is my thought on what happens with our type (10-13) the aux key must have the rf code sender in it and when done with a dead fob has a backup code that only using the key can access on the 14+ it must all be in the actual fob itself and that's why they can just push the logo of the fob to the button and then start the car, it must have a passive type rf chip that allows starting once read by the car (ours would be the same) normally its actively communicating and looking for matched encrypted codes from fob to car but there has to be a backup passive one that has a master type code that allows a dead fob to operate a car (or in our case the key, as the key would have the passive system in it) probably similar to the chipped keys gm cars had a long time back with the black square on them, probably almost exactly that but obviously smaller and more high tech as the system is more advanced and newer
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Awesome, thank you both for the information.

I purchased a two-pack of batteries, just in case. lol
 

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Demon Spawn
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Awesome, thank you both for the information.

I purchased a two-pack of batteries, just in case. lol
yes, when mine died after less than 6 months I bought several batteries, and used one to put in the fob, that are shelve life good until 2022 and leave them in the glove box just in case as the procedure is annoying and the red flashing key light stays on while you drive like that and distracts you again cellphones appear to make them last less so keep your key and phone apart as much as possible, I keep my keys away from the phone at all times when they are not in my pocket. just too much of a hassle to carry keys or a phone in your left pocket when your right handed, reaching into that pocket is annoying
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, it worked like you said. That's when I realized that inserting the key is just to allow the push button start to work.
 
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Demon Spawn
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yeah, if you read my long winded post above I give some minor technical insight on how this system must work (in my thoughts, as I am a computer guy for a living) so I have to know how a lot of this works. The key in our generation must have a passive rf chip in it that when inserted into that slot is read by an rf reader in the slot, and this sends the codes to the computer and allows the interlock and starting systems to be deactivated/activated similar to a toll tag, but I bet with more security, I bet I could get into a toll tag and hack the codes and get free tolls easier than I could hack into the encrypted car computer and get codes to unlock the car. same with the fob, the fob sends signal constantly that's why it warns about having other cars fobs near it and why the batteries die so fast. but it is sent on an active rf chip that encrypts the codes from car to fob and vice versa (so a person in a parking lot cannot just read your code as you hit a button, snatch it and have the info to make a duplicate key fob to open the car) granted there are holes and this has been demonstrated as the systems in some cars are easily hacked or broken and gotten into, ours is kinda sophisticated and maybe one of the harder ones to get around or make a fob that sends the right codes for, because I have not seen them do it to any mazda vehicle yet, most are fords and Chryslers as well as some chevys that have smart fobs like ours but have weak encryption or easily bypassed systems. the key in our system probably has a passive chip that when the fob code hops after each use stores the last good code between car and fob and then allows the use of the car with a dead fob, either that or the codes don't hop and are just encrypted (on older fob systems they hop from 1-254 (this is just what the computer sees) it has 254 channels to hop on and hops from 1-254 randomly or in order as you use the fob. that's why some older fob systems would lose programming if a spare fob had not been used in awhile. it would fall off the code hops and the car would no longer recognize it. this is what garage door opener buttons do as well, but obviously on different frequencies.

either that or there is no code hopping, just one encrypted code from fob to car, that the active chip sends and the car gets, or vice versa, fob usually doing the sending. then our keys have either that code hard stored into a passive chip to be read when inserted into the steering column or another code that is somewhat like a "master" code that when read by the system in absence of fob codes allows the car to run. either way the car knows the fob is dead and send the code for the dash light to blink while the aux key is in, so it would be whichever is easiest for them to allow the system to know the fob is dead and flash the light.
 

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Opps! I apologize, above I said that it would work just by putting the fob up to the button. I recently purchased a Mazda 3 2015. This is how the 2015's (and probably the others of the 3 gen). I did not realize that other gen's had a different way of this. I apologize for that.

Hope it works out for you!!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
No worries Bamboomanage, I tested it out on how it works without a battery.

jegonzo3
 

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Demon Spawn
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Opps! I apologize, above I said that it would work just by putting the fob up to the button. I recently purchased a Mazda 3 2015. This is how the 2015's (and probably the others of the 3 gen). I did not realize that other gen's had a different way of this. I apologize for that.

Hope it works out for you!!
yeah the older 10-13 3's and I bet all mazdas with smart keys do this ( l looked at a 12 6 when looking for cars last year) that had the same intelligent key system my 3 does and had that same dead spot cover on the column and push button on the dash, I think all of the 14+ mazdas use push button start on all but the very base trim, and even then I think they may all have it now as its a fairly standard feature anymore, so they changed the system because they no longer had a dead spot to put the backup in, as the aux key slot in the 10-13 3s and 6s is in the dead hole the normal key turn ignition is. in the 14+ and I bet your 15 3 is the same there is not a dead spot for a key start ignition (if one is even available)and if it is, the push button is over the same hole. so they had no free spot to put an aux key slot, and wanted to probably simplify the procedure as the one in the 10-13 is a minor bit tedious comparatively. its easier just to touch the fob to the button and have it read that way then have a second hole with a second reader for back up. (probably had too many people moan about having to do the procedure I listed above when the fob battery dies) that and I know in the 10-13s the in car receiver and decoder system for intelligent keys is in the back of the passenger area (it shows a diagram in the manual) the newer ones it maybe right in the dash near the push button start and that allows it to read the passive chip instead of looking for the active one in the fob when it dies, that or the push button has a rf reader behind it that sends the same info our key slot does.
 
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