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  • “No key detected” is one long-standing and frustrating problem that the Nissan Altima can develop.
  • Reasons your Nissan Altima can’t detect the key include a dead key fob battery, a damaged key fob, and a weak car battery.
  • Follow the steps in this article to fix your Nissan Altima’s can’t detect key issue by changing the key fob battery, replacing the key fob, or changing the car battery. Other ways to fix the issue include manually entering the key, restarting the key’s electrical system, and holding the key fob up.

One of the most frustrating problems the Nissan Altima can develop is the dreaded “No key detected,” which has plagued the model for years. While it may seem harmless beyond keeping you from entering your ride, the issue may indicate problems within your vehicle.

So what exactly causes the notorious issue, and how can you fix them?

5 Reasons Your Nissan Altima Can’t Detect the Key

Car key detection problems in Altimas tend to stem from electrical or battery issues. Some of the common reasons why yours can’t detect the key are as follows:

Dead Key Fob Battery

The first thing you should check if your Nissan Altima can’t detect the key is the key fob’s battery. The key fob is the device that unlocks the car from afar; it’s essentially the key itself.

The key fob communicates with the vehicle and the lock system using a chip that locates sensors. A dead battery would prevent the key fob from sending the signal to open the car.

Damaged Key Fob

Similar to a drained key fob, a damaged one will also prevent the vehicle from detecting the key.

Similar to a drained key fob, a damaged one will also prevent the vehicle from detecting the key.

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Faulty wiring, wear and tear, water damage, or a programming issue are some of the most common reasons behind key fob damage.

Weak Car Battery

If you notice other symptoms, such as difficulty starting the vehicle or the general lack of power, then the issue may lie within the car’s battery. A weak or drained battery also affects the locking system, as it doesn’t have the necessary power to start certain components or features.

One way to confirm if the battery is dying or drained is by looking at the head. If they’re dim, it could mean they’re not getting the voltage they need to work as intended.

Key Needs a Reset

On rare occasions, the key fob tends to mix its signals with other vehicles with similar wavelengths. It might stop functioning once it encounters another Nissan Altima.

Electrical Issues

Lastly, you may encounter electrical issues within the key fob or the vehicle itself. Some software or hardware might go haywire, causing both to miss the signals sent between one another.

How to Fix the Nissan Altima Can’t Detect Key Issue

The fixes for car key detection problems are quite simple, depending on what’s causing them. Most of them only need a quick charge or a change in hardware, while others require professional help. Here are some ways to fix the issue:

Change Key Fob Battery

If a drained key fob battery is the culprit, you can replace it using simple tools that might already be in your garage. To remove and replace the battery, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Unscrew the lid to expose the area that holds the battery in the key fob.
  • Step 2: Remove the old battery and place the new one in.
  • Step 3: Screw the lid back in. Make sure it isn’t loose to prevent damage.
  • Step 4: Test the key fob by remotely locking and unlocking your vehicle.

Ensure you use the same battery your key fob is using. If you’re not sure what type it uses, you can check the vehicle’s user manual.

You can use videos online for reference if you’re having difficulties opening the fob. Some of them could even break if opened incorrectly.

See also  Underhood Checks

Replace the Key Fob

You can replace the key fob if you can’t fix the issue with a simple battery switch. Replacing it could cost you somewhere between $50 and $400, depending on the brand. The price varies, as fobs are programmed to fit the car.

Change the Car Battery

Changing the car battery might fix various related issues, not just the undetectable key. Follow these steps to change the battery:

  • Step 1: Make sure the car is off.
  • Step 2: Locate the battery; it’s usually mounted on a tray under the hood, the trunk, under the back seat, or even in the front fender wells.
  • Step 3: Wear gloves and eye protection before using a wrench to loosen the bolt that holds the negative cable (black) to the battery terminal. Do the same for the positive cable (red).
  • Step 4: Remove the battery by loosening the bolt that secures the clamp holding it. Keep the battery upright to avoid spilling the caustic liquid inside.
  • Step 5: Use a battery cleaning spray and a wire brush to thoroughly clean the connectors and the battery tray. You can get products to help battery connections, such as an acid detector. Doing so should prevent corrosion from forming on your new battery.
  • Step 6: Pat the connectors and tray dry before placing the new battery.
  • Step 7: Connect the positive cable first and tighten it using a bolt. Repeat the same step for the negative one.
  • Step 8: Start your vehicle to test if the new battery is working. Check the head and tail lights to ensure they are bright.
2021 nissan altima with battery visible nissan news usa
Changing the car battery might fix various related issues, not just the undetectable key. Image credit: Nissan News USA.

If you’re not confident in your ability to change the battery, you could always turn to professional help. Doing so also prevents possible issues that may arise, such as low power or ignition troubles.

Manually Enter the Key

Another way to “fix” the “no key detected” issue is by manually using the key to enter your vehicle. A faulty key fob means you can’t lock and unlock the vehicle from afar, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the key that comes with it.

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Just make sure your driver door lock cylinder and key works, as most modern vehicles only have a keyed lock cylinder on the driver door.

Restart the Key’s Electrical System

There are ways to restart the key fob electrical system, However, these are best left to professionals. You can contact your Altima’s manufacturer for an in-depth breakdown of how much it may cost and how long it might take.

Hold the Key Fob Up

You can also try holding the key fob up to the engine start button and push the button on the fob. This works on several vehicles, and could spare you the trouble of replacing or repairing different components.

You can also try holding the key fob up to the engine start button and push the button on the fob.

Anthony Harlin, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

Where to Buy a New Key Fob For Your Nissan Altima

As we mentioned, the dreaded “No key detected” issue has plagued the Nissan Altima for years. The fix for it is relatively simple. You’ll either need to change the battery or the hardware. Luckily, you can get high-quality key fobs that are compatible with your Nissan Altima at

Shop for the parts you need on our website, and enjoy quality products sourced from the top parts manufacturers in the industry. Our team of industry experts makes sure that each product that makes it into our catalog is engineered to specifications and has undergone rigorous quality checks. We stand by the quality of our products, that’s why we offer 60-day returns and a lifetime replacement guarantee.

Shop now at and get a replacement key fob for your Nissan Altima as soon as possible!

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at

Tony Harlin is a Master Gas and Diesel Diagnostic Technician with over 18 years of experience. He works full-time at a large independent automotive shop as a driveability and repair technician working on all types of vehicles with a focus on diesels. ASE certifications include A1-A9, L1 and L2, as well as X1.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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Frederick Figuereo

I have an Nissan Altima 2012, and the issue that I have is not with the key fob, it work fine but push start car most of then have a key fob port that is in the car for when the battery in the Fob is uncharge you put the key in the port and you can turn on the car, in my car when I take the battery it out of the fob and I put the key fob in the port it say ¨NO KEY¨, I change the PORT and it keep doing the same, so I want that you give me an idea what is happening and if you have any idea how to fix it.

key fob port

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