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Fix a Volvo flip/switchblade key - DIY, pics and advice Topic is solved

Help, Advice, Owners' Discussion and DIY Tutorials on Volvo XC90s. The XC90 proved to be very popular, and very good for Volvo's sales numbers, since its introduction in model year 2003 (North America).
songzunhuang
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songzunhuang

Volvo Repair Database Fix a Volvo flip/switchblade key - DIY, pics and advice

Post by songzunhuang » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:43 am

So I was looking for some tips on fixing the flip / switchblade key. My key flops around and doesn't lock anywhere. After searching everywhere, all I saw were solicitations for a service where for $55, Tony would fix your key. Well, heck, I'm good at fixing stuff. I figured I could tackle it myself.

After an hour of putzing with they key, I have decided that Tony's deal is actually pretty good. Although possible to fix, it's not a minor repair by any means. So for those of you who are adventurous, I'll give you some pictures and tips.

1) The case is glued together. You cannot just pry it apart without damage. You need to cut it with some super fine saw - like a razor saw. Even then you'll have to pry out the part that inserts into the compartment with the transponder.
2) The transponder is actually pretty well protected. If you are totally a brute you may break it, but you'd have to be quite rough.
3) The mechanism for the flip is actually pretty nicely designed. I am not sure what made mine stop working.

Here are the pics with some callouts. Hope this gives you a visual.

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I tore apart a spare unit I bought from eBay. I am still considering if I want to tear into my actual key and attempt the repair. Since I have the spare, I have all the replacement parts that I need. In fact, I could even use the case I pried apart and damaged. The plastic that the case is made of is pretty tough.

I'm going to think about it some more and then report back.


Song Huang
www.thehuangs.com
2004 XC90 T6 AWD Ruby red
1998 V70 T5 - Hurt your eyes red
2000 S2000 - the non Volvo
1984 BMW 633CSi - I'm diversifying

songzunhuang
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songzunhuang

Re: Fixing your flip /switchblade key - pics and advice

Post by songzunhuang » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:08 am

OK, I didn't have to think about it too long (see the previous post). I decided to go for the fix. I used a razor saw to separate the halves of the key. There is a central section that you do NOT want to cut through. You'll have to pry apart the halves which will separate the glue. Here's the entire process in pictures. I'll add a few comments where necessary.

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The razor saw creates the slightest sliver of a cut. It fit right in the molded slot in the case halves.

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You'll need to be careful not to cut much past the outer casing. The transponder in glass is set pretty far in there so you should damage it. Just don't pry where the tip of your screwdriver will go into the area of the transponder. Stay on the outer edge and from the inside where there's plenty of room.

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This is a bit tricky. You'll have to play with the mechanism to understand how it works. It's difficult to explain. I had to assemble and disassemble it a few times to feel comfortable with it. Use the key blade slots to "wind" the button with the tabs and the spring counterclockwise. Press on the button to keep it from unwinding. Then you need to get the other case half over it. I found it easiest to get the button into it's hole in the other half. I then positioned the rest of the case half into place and pressed it together.

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JB Weld worked perfectly for me. The color even matched!

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All done!

This wasn't that hard, but it did require that I sacrifice a portion of the case I bought from eBay. At the end of the day, it saved me a boatload of money! Read the forums and you'll understand how much it costs to get a new key, cut the key and get all the required programming from a dealer.

If you are a tinkerer like me, you shouldn't have much of a problem. If you have any questions, feel free to email or just reply to this post.

Oh yea, I went to my car after all this and tried out the key. It worked just fine.


Song Huang
www.thehuangs.com
2004 XC90 T6 AWD Ruby red
1998 V70 T5 - Hurt your eyes red
2000 S2000 - the non Volvo
1984 BMW 633CSi - I'm diversifying

JDS60R
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Re: Fixing your flip /switchblade key - pics and advice

Post by JDS60R » Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:13 am

Thank You for doing this. I had been wondering as mine is a little loose.


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billofdurham
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Re: Fixing your flip /switchblade key - pics and advice

Post by billofdurham » Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:30 am

I don't have this problem as I don't have this type of key. However, there are plenty out there and most of them will end up going limp.

With such a clear write up our members will be able to save lots of money, which is a primary aim of the forum.

I am putting this in the Repair Database.

Bill.


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Previously:
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1991 960 3.0 24v, Auto, Silver.
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songzunhuang
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Re: Fixing your flip /switchblade key - pics and advice

Post by songzunhuang » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:52 pm

Thanks Bill for putting this in the repair database.

When I got the key (from the previous owner) the blade was already floppy. After thinking about this a bit, I think I know why the key was broken. First, the tabs are metal so they are hard to break. Something must have applied a lot of force to snap two metal tabs.

I'll bet what happened is that the key was locked with the blade extended, perhaps it was in the ignition. Someone or something must have hit or pressed on the remote part of the key and the leverage force on the stationary key blade caused the tabs to shear off. There's no way to just press the blade lightly to break the tabs.

So that's what I think... :wink:

I'm about to post another one...repairing cracked leather.


Song Huang
www.thehuangs.com
2004 XC90 T6 AWD Ruby red
1998 V70 T5 - Hurt your eyes red
2000 S2000 - the non Volvo
1984 BMW 633CSi - I'm diversifying

tpsells
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Re: Fixing your flip /switchblade key - pics and advice

Post by tpsells » Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:08 am

Correct!..."not a minor fix". Correct also!...The key, when in the ignition, can be broken easily. Stress from any source, a bump from your hand or your knee, or dropping something on it while the key is in the ignition, will break the internals. That' is not the only way it will break. The most common way they break is by dropping with the key blade extended in the open position. My best advice is to keep the key closed at all times when not in the ignition! Please keep mindful that if it's abused, it will break!

The posted fix looks like it will work, but I would like to hear about how long it will hold up to being dropped, the stress of twisting in the ignition and the rigors of daily life hanging with your other keys. I admire the ingenuity and the detailed explanation. I'm finding that not all "do it yourselfers" have the skill set of Songzunhuang. My restoration process differs, especially in the re-construction phase. I should also mention that many have secondary damage that was not mentioned. One example is that the broken pieces further damage the internal raceway that the button rotates within. Often the raceway has to be machined back to a smooth surface to operate properly upon re-assembly. I have fabricated tools that enable a secure dissection and restoration of the key ensuring long lasting proper operation. I have been prompted to offer this post to those who are less likely to succeed, as I have recently been getting some failed attempts sent to me in pieces. Today I received a key, in pieces, with a smashed transponder. Just as serious, plastic pieces broken from failed attempts at prying. Some are broken trying, and missing pieces that are critical for a proper restoration and lasting fix. I emphasize that you must take extreme care not to damage the plastic in any way if you take on the repair in that any damage done will cause further premature failure and will also circumvent a later fix. Thanks, tonyp



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Re: Fixing your flip /switchblade key - pics and advice

Post by tpsells » Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:15 am

I got another email today asking if I could do anything about a smashed transponder (glass capsule)in a key that was destroyed on an attempt to do this repair. It's very fragile and is at risk. Sadly, nothing can be done. Tony P



Kelly7
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Re: Fixing your flip /switchblade key - pics and advice

Post by Kelly7 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:53 am

This advice actually works! I was able to fix the case just fine, and it saved me a good deal of hassle getting a new one :D


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theblues
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Re: Fixing your flip /switchblade key - pics and advice

Post by theblues » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:28 pm

My problem is that the part of the key that goes into the ignition broke off near where the key shank goes into the control. Anyone have ideas for repair or replacement without paying outrageous dealer charge?



songzunhuang
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Re: Fixing your flip /switchblade key - pics and advice

Post by songzunhuang » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:33 pm

@theblues - the exact same procedure I described above will work. You'll have to get a new key blade cut, but that's not the expensive part. I have seen blank blades on eBay. What costs is the transponder and the programming required. Dealers will get you on that. It's been over a year since I fixed my key and it's all working just fine still.


Song Huang
www.thehuangs.com
2004 XC90 T6 AWD Ruby red
1998 V70 T5 - Hurt your eyes red
2000 S2000 - the non Volvo
1984 BMW 633CSi - I'm diversifying

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