How to Spot a Counterfeit Key Fob Remote Online

The dangers of cheap knock-offs and how to protect yourself and your vehicle


“counterfeit (adjective), coun-ter-feit : made in imitation of something else with intent to deceive”
– Merriam-Webster Dictionary

With the rise of online shopping, the convenience also brings challenges. One of which is the risk of buying counterfeit electronic products, which are made to look just like the original but have many more issues that we’ll outline for you below.

Key fob remotes, essential for modern vehicle security and convenience, are no exception. Counterfeit key fobs tend to fail to program, perform reliably or last longer than a few weeks (we’ve heard horror stories from our locksmith customers); they may also void warranties or damage your vehicle’s electronic system as they require workarounds during the programming process.

Modern vehicles are essentially computers. Once someone has to alter the code of that vehicle to get an aftermarket remote to program to your vehicle, it alters the way that code works to operate your vehicle.

This guide will help you identify genuine products from fakes, ensuring the continued operation of your vehicle and your peace of mind.

How can you tell? What do you look for?

Here’s a list of things to look for when searching for a new key fob remote for your vehicle. We’ll also tell you what to do if you think you’ve been duped. Let’s get started…



These products are found on some of the biggest retail websites on the internet. Just because you trust the marketplace, doesn’t mean that everyone on there has been fully vetted. Some systems are in place to stamp this out, but it’s impossible for marketplaces to monitor every one of the millions of sellers on their platforms. Sellers come and go daily on some of these sites. Most of these counterfeiters pop right back up with another store name right after they’re suspended from the marketplace for violations.

Let’s get started with our Top 10 ways to sniff out a fake. Here are a few things to look for in product listings that should tip you off.

1.  “OEM” not explicitly called out in the product listing. If it doesn’t say “OEM” then it’s not. Usually, they’ll use the word “replacement” instead. As well as the phrase: “This is a replacement part to match the original in form and function.”

2.  Always consider the name of the seller. You don’t want to be buying from a seller named YXTPO on Amazon or a website named KEYZ-4-LEZZ.

3.  A price that’s too good to be true — spoiler alert… it is. Due to low quality, these products don’t last long and have terrible signal strength/range.

Here is a textbook example:

This listing has some of the obvious signs of a knock-off product.

First, two remotes for $14 (and we’ve seen this listing as low as $9)? That’s just too good to be true. Notice the different color options as well.

Also, if a listing is so cheap that it has to note that it’s a complete remote with electronics included, steer clear!

It’s also worth noting that typically these remotes are made to replace multiple OEM Part Numbers. This remote has multiple part numbers listed that it replaces.

And finally, this listing has the hallmark “this is a replacement part to match the original in form and function.” You’re going to get a cheap knock-off when you see this sentence in a product listing.

These remotes are cheap and are only guaranteed to last about a month in your pocket before you’re going back and buying another. Don’t end up like Uncle Si!



You can’t judge a book by its cover… or can you? Here are some tell-tale signs of a remote not being what it seems to be.

4.  FCC ID and Part Numbers may still be printed on the case. Just because the remote has this information on it doesn’t mean that its necessarily OEM.

5.  Button icons are slightly different and wear very quickly.

6.  Glow-in-the-dark button pads.

7.  Pink, anything pink — or any other color remote case.


LHJ011 (GM)

You can see on this remote that 1) it’s pink and 2) the button pad icons are worn. You can guarantee that any colorful remote out there will have a nasty surprise on the inside.


LHJ011 (GM)

As you can see, counterfeiters don’t shy away from printing the FCC and Part Number on the case.



You can’t judge a book by its cover… or can you? Here are some tell-tale signs of a remote being of cheap quality with regards to the circuitry and its components. This means shorter life and reduced signal strength/range.

8.  Battery will typically be mounted to the circuit board instead of the case/shell.

9.  Contacts are cheap and thin.

10.  Circuitry and components are cheap and thin.


OUC60221/ OUC60270 (GM)

It’s a wonder that these counterfeit boards work at all when you compare the number and size of components on the board to the OEM board.


OUC60221/ OUC60270 (GM)

It’s a wonder that this works at all when you compare the number of components on the board to the OEM board.


lhj011 (GM)


lhj011 (GM)







What can you do to protect yourself, your vehicle and others?

Before you’ve got to listen to Uncle Tony telling you that you should’ve known better, here are some ways to protect yourself and others from buying counterfeit remotes key fobs.

  • Look for some of the pre-purchase points listed above. If the listing sounds fishy, the product doesn’t have a logo or if the product has a price that is too-good-to-be-true, it probably is.
  • Inspect your remote upon receipt. Check it for all of the points listed above.
  • If the remote looks suspicious, contact the Marketplace (Amazon, eBay, etc) directly, not the Seller, to report.
  • Request a full-refund from the Seller. If they request you to return the item, refuse to pay re-stocking fees associated with the return.
  • Be sure that the listing you’re purchasing from says that the product is “OEM” guaranteed. Learn what “OEM” means with regards to key fobs and auto parts, in general.
  • Stay off of the marketplaces with low barriers to entry and buy from reputable online sellers such as NorthCoast Keyless. We’ve been selling high-quality OEM key fobs for decades at this point. 

Be safe out there!

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