Car key fobs targeted under new safety laws

New and used cars impacted by world-first laws in Australia to prevent infants swallowing button batteries

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Button batteries and the equipment that use them such as car key remotes have come under new safety and information standards to help avoid young children ingesting the coin-size batteries.

The new standards were introduced on December 21, 2020, with an 18-month transition period that ended this week (June 22).

Protocols include that replacement button batteries must be sold in child-safe packaging inscribed with warning labels, while those products that contain button batteries – such as new or replacement car key fobs – must have been tested and complied as child-safe.

This test involves ensuring a child cannot open the key fob. It may, for example, result in modifying the key fob with a small screw to stop the key fob shell from coming apart easily. Warning labels or tags must also be fitted to the key fob.

The new law as it relates to the car industry only affects new or used car key fobs that were first supplied by a retailer after June 22, 2022.

The law does not affect second-hand key fobs that were first supplied before the requirements of the standard became mandatory.

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Key fobs supplied in a one-off transaction by a supplier who had acquired the goods as a consumer – for example, when a consumer sells an unused product on an online platform, such as a private sale – also do not come under the new safety law.

However, the new-car and used-car retail industry has had to make a series of changes to adapt to the new requirements.

Changes for new and used cars

According to Australia’s most popular vehicle brand, Toyota, there have been a number of changes to new cars as a result of the safety law.

“Additional warning information has been added to the owner’s manuals for all new vehicles sold,” a spokesperson told carsales.

“All new vehicle components with button batteries have been tested and confirmed to meet the standards required by the new legislation.

“Warning labels have been applied to keys supplied with new vehicles.”

Meanwhile, anyone wanting to replace Toyota parts fitted with button batteries such as a key fob will also see changes.

“All genuine spare parts currently available for sale containing button batteries have been tested for compliance to the standards required by the new legislation, and additional warning labels added,” the spokesperson said.

Toyota won’t sell button batteries directly to consumers as result of the new law.

“Individual button batteries will no longer be available as a genuine spare part for direct supply to consumers. As an alternative, Toyota dealers will fit genuine spare replacement button batteries to any components requiring a replacement,” our contact said.

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While used vehicles will also be affected, Toyota suggested that they were minor.

“Processes have been established with our dealer network for adding warning information to used vehicles, [that is] those that were first sold as a new vehicle on or after 22nd June 2022.”

Another car manufacturer representative, who did not wish to be named, claimed that the test cost is on average $2000 per key type, although some may get discount on subsequent keys.

They said that manufacturers have to check all key types available in the inventory; that is, all keys, with no age limit. A key that cannot meet the standard is deemed unsellable.

The aftermarket industry

While Mister Minit offers a wide range of services, a core part of the business is aftermarket car key fobs, including diagnostic key duplication for smart and proximity keys, integrated keys and remotes, car shells and car key battery replacement.

Mister Minit has more than 280 franchise stores across Australia.

According to James Mullen, business development manager for Mister Minit Australia, the new button battery legislation compliance requirements were relatively straight-forward for aftermarket key fob remotes and generally the supply of any such key fob replacements should not be impacted.

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“We put compliance testing into the hands of our suppliers, who organised independent testing and told us which keys were compliant. It hasn’t been an issue for car keys, only some garage door remotes,” he said.

Mullen said that the key fob compliance testing cost was between $900 and $1500 per key.

Yet given the large sales volume of aftermarket car key fobs overall, he said no cost was going to be passed onto customers.

“There are no increases in cost per se, just the usual minor annual adjustments. Prices are fairly stagnant,” he said.

Meanwhile, the compliance requirements and key fob availability for older cars has not been affected by the law, according to Mullen.

“It’s not a huge issue. Reports from the franchises suggest that customers find it hard to get into a car key fob already [to replace the button battery] and so bring it in to us to do it,” he said.

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Button battery dangers

The new safety legislation was introduced in Australia as a world-first to increase awareness and help reduce the serious dangers to children that button batteries pose.

A button battery can get stuck in a child’s throat if swallowed. This can cause a chemical reaction in the battery that can burn through tissue, causing death or serious injury within a short period.

In Australia, there have been three deaths and 44 severely injured among children in incidents involving button batteries so far. More than one child a month on average is still seriously injured as a consequence of ingesting or inserting these coin-size batteries.

Under the new mandatory safety and information standards, products must have secure battery compartments to prevent children from gaining access to the batteries.

Manufacturers must undertake compliance testing, supply batteries in child-resistant packaging and place additional warnings and emergency advice on packaging and instructions.

Button or coin batteries are flat, round, single-cell batteries. They are typically up to 32mm diameter, and range in height from 1mm to 11mm.

Button (or coin) batteries generally are made with one of four chemistries within them: lithium, alkaline, silver oxide and zinc-air.

The increasingly popular lithium button batteries pose the highest risk to children. They are typically slightly larger, which means that they are more likely to become lodged in a child’s throat.

The lithium battery’s higher voltage also means they can potentially cause tissue damage more quickly.

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Palay-Palay  National ParkAbout PagudpudFive Levels of Aguinid FallsIntroducing San Pascual, MasbateMount Manmanoc ItineraryAdventures in Fortune Island of Nasugbu | LakwatseroNext Level Mobile Photography with Sony Xperia XZ1 | LakwatseroScuba Diving in Siargao: Discovering the Underwater Treasures of Daku Island | LakwatseroAbout Davao CityHow to Get to AndaJanuary: Cebu & IloiloHow to Get to Mines View ParkKamay ni Hesus: Pilgrimage Site in Lucban | LakwatseroPoon Hill: Three Days of Himalayan AdventureCalvary Hill Cemetery of SagadaHow to Get to TambobongMilford SoundTen Things To Do in Sagada: Bucket List for NewbiesDahoyhoy FallsPilot for a Day: The Ultra Light Aircraft Experience | LakwatseroReal Coffee and Tea Cafe of Boracay | LakwatseroGhorepani Poon Hill TrekAbout Maniwaya IslandHow to Get to Binanga FallsPalo Alto Falls of Baras, Rizal | LakwatseroExplore Moscow: Best Things to Do in the City | LakwatseroStairway to HeavenMount Guiting-Guiting Overnight Trek Complete ItineraryCape Melville LighthouseLa Cathedral Café: Restaurant with a View in IntramurosKapurpurawan Rock Formation: White and BeautifulDay Hike ItineraryThe Sandbox at AlvieraHow to go to Mararison IslandA Weekend of Adventures in South Cebu and DumagueteCalayan Island: A Virtual Diary of Our Epic Journey | LakwatseroFaro de Isla Jintotolo (Jintotolo Island Lighthouse)Low’s PeakAbout Taal VolcanoHow to Get to Mag-aso Falls of BoholSamar: Biri Rock Formations Up Close | LakwatseroBonbon BeachIntroducing Jomalig IslandAbout Cotabato CityAbout TabukLeyte Landing Memorial: A Memorial for a Fulfilled Promise | LakwatseroSilyang Bato, Mount MaramiPanimahawa Ridge and Cedar Falls Day Hike ItineraryFun in the World’s Best IslandSample Albay ItinerariesMagpupungko Beach and Tidal Pools6 Tips for Living in the Philippines | LakwatseroDaraga Church: The Nuestra Señora dela Porteria ChurchTulgao Rice TerracesCape Melville Lighthouse (Faro del Cabo Melville)Canyoneering to Kawasan FallsLake FewaLong Weekend: Five-Day Suggested Itineraries in Luzon | LakwatseroAbout CaponesThe Wichcraft Café of Zamboanga City | LakwatseroHow to Get to GuiuanAll-Female FloorHow to Get to Neri’s VilleDiotay’s EateryShort but Sweet Melaka Getaway | LakwatseroHow to Get to Tinuy-An FallsOslob: The Lost Grandeur of Tumalog Falls | LakwatseroIlocos ItineraryDitumabo Falls: The Mother Falls of San Luis, Aurora!Biking in Kalinga: Trek and Bike to TabukParadise Garden: A Haven for Sea TurtlesSiargao: Magpupungko Beach and Tidal Pools | LakwatseroAbout Bucas GrandeCoral GardenSagadaA Walk in Sangay Siapo Island Before it is Gone? | LakwatseroAmbaguio-Akiki ItineraryCorregidor Island Lighthouse (Faro dela Isla de Corregidor)Faro de Punta de Malabrigo (Malabrigo Point Lighthouse)About CulionNaidi Hill LighthouseBoquete IslandHow to Commute to Temple of LeahCatanduanes: The Heritage Church of Bato | Lakwatsero1. White Water Rafting or KayakingMount Fuji Overnight Climb ItinerarySip & Gogh Paint Studio: Unleash Your Inner Van Gogh | LakwatseroBatanes ItineraryHow to Get to Quitinday HillsAbout Callao CaveDiscover LakawonBiking to Taal: A Fun Ride to Batangas’ Heritage TownAntique Blooming: The Rafflesia of San RemigioMalasimbo Lights and Dance FestivalBacolod ItineraryPoon HillAttractions in Mirador Heritage and Eco ParkHulhumale Public BeachRomblon Island: Bonbon Beach, Tiamban Beach & MoreAdventure in Sabah: White Water Rafting in Padas River | LakwatseroHow to Get to Hinakpan Mystical HillsWelcome to Lake SebuAbout CasiguranAbout BuscalanHow to Go to Kalanggaman IslandFaro de Cabo Bojeador (Cape Bojeador Lighthouse)Backpacking Maldives: Budget Itinerary, Expenses & TipsHow to Get ThereOffbeat Bohol Itinerary: 3D/2N of AdventuresHow to Get to Tawi-TawiAlona BeachPangilatan Falls: The Forgotten Gem of Tapaz, CapizWorld War I: SMS Cormoran II3D/2N Taiwan Itinerary: Taipei – Yehliu – ShiffenLaos for Backpackers: Getting There on a BudgetBasic RequirementsHow to Get to Antong FallsCathedral CaveHow to Go to Gubat, SorsogonAbout SadangaHow to Get to Bugui Point LighthouseHow to Get to Cabra Island LighthouseCebu Itinerary: Three-Day Adventures in the SouthAbout AndaLuna: A Day in the Show Window of Apayao | LakwatseroMargues Blue LagoonFinding Palaui’s Cape Engaño Lighthouse | LakwatseroHow to Get to Mantayupan Falls of Barili, CebuHow to Get to MaligcongLinapacan Islands: Between Paradise | LakwatseroKLIA to KLCCHow to Get to JomaligBanaug ShoalEspadang Bato – Payaran Falls Day Hike Itinerary10 Remarkable Philippine Destinations for Solo TravelMiagao Church: A UNESCO World Heritage Site in IloiloAbout Carbin ReefAbout Parola IslandCabra WreckageCobra Falls: Ozamiz City’s Best Kept SecretBasco: The Chapel on the Hill of Tukon | LakwatseroBack in Kathmandu’s Lovely Mess | LakwatseroHimalayan Adventure: Kathmandu to Pokhara Overland | LakwatseroItineraryChinatown Vancouver (Stop #23)Situbo Falls: Tampilisan's Awesome SurpriseHow to Get to Inambakan FallsTuasan Falls: Another Camiguin’s Charmer | LakwatseroHow to Get to Lake SebuMarinduque Loop: Biking in the Heart of the Philippines1. 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