How To Use Subaru Outback Emergency Key

Picture this: you’ve been searching high and low for the key fob to your Subaru Outback, and now you’re late for work because of your frantic search. But what if the key fob fails to work? If you can’t get into your car, how are you going to get anywhere? The emergency key is the key to the answer to this problem.

If the primary key fob ever stops working or gets damaged, the Subaru Outback has a secondary key that can be used in its stead. Follow these steps to activate the emergency key:

  • Slide open the key fob’s housing.
  • Pull the emergency key out of the fob.
  • Unlock the door with the spare key.
  • Start the engine the old-fashioned way.

In this guide, I’ll explain what the emergency key is, what it can and cannot be used for, and how to access the emergency key in greater detail.

What Is the Emergency Key of a Subaru Outback?

In the event that you misplace or damage your Subaru Outback’s primary key fob, you can use the vehicle’s emergency key. It’s made out of metal, and it looks like a regular key with a blade that can be used in the door lock or ignition. A sliding mechanism on the key fob’s casing reveals the emergency key inside.

What the Emergency Key Can and Can’t Be Used for

The emergency key can be used for the following:

  • Unlocking the car doors—The handle on your Subaru Outback’s doors will also have a sliding panel that reveals the keyhole. The key can be inserted into the keyhole to lock and unlock the door.
  • Starting the engine—Even though your Outback may have push-button ignition, you can still turn the engine on using the emergency key.

Here’s what you can’t use it for:

  • Remote locking and unlocking—The emergency key a piece of metal and nothing more. As such, you will not be able to lock and unlock your key door remotely since that requires the use of the remote or key fob.
  • Trunk release—Modern Subaru Outbacks do not have a keyhole in the trunk hatch. However, you can access the trunk space by entering the SUV through the manually unlocked doors.
  • Operating other remote functions— There is no way to set off the car’s alarm or panic button with the emergency key.

How To Use Subaru Outback Emergency Key

Here’s a thorough breakdown of how you can access and use the emergency key in your Subaru Outback’s key fob:

  1. Locate the key fob. The emergency key is stored within the key fob. If you look at the top side of the key fob, you’ll notice the butt-end of the emergency key’s handle.
  2. Slide open the key fob’s case. Carefully pull on the butt-end of the emergency key until it releases from the key fob.

From there, you can unlock and lock your doors, as well as turn the SUV on and off. Make sure you place the emergency key back inside the key fob when you’re not using it any longer.


1. Can you open your Outback’s trunk with the emergency key?

In recent Subaru Outback models, the trunk hatch does not contain a keyhole. This means that it will be impossible to open the Outback’s trunk with the emergency key.

The good news is that you can access the door button or latch from the driver’s seat when you open the door with the emergency key. If that doesn’t work, you can try making your way to the cargo space to manually unlock the trunk by releasing the latch.

2. How to replace battery in key fob

Here’s how you replace the batteries in your Subaru Outback key fob:

    1. Locate the key fob’s battery compartment. Typically, the key fob’s battery compartment can be found on its underside or back. You may need to undo screws or use a flathead screwdriver or a coin to pull the fob apart.
    2. Remove the old battery. Once the key fob is open, carefully remove the old battery from its compartment. Take note of the position of the battery since it will tell you which side is negative and which is positive.
  • Insert the new battery.
  1. Close the battery compartment. After installing a new battery, make sure to secure the compartment by pressing it back into place or by closing the door. If you accidentally broke the key fob while trying to open it (it happens), you can get a new key fob from an authorized dealer, or you can tape the whole thing back together as a temporary solution.

After installing a fresh battery or batteries in the key fob, give it a test to make sure it’s still in working order. If it isn’t, you may need to get it fixed or replaced.

The batteries in a key fob usually last for between 3 and 4 years. If your key fob fails before the 3-year mark, that may mean you need to get a new key fob for your Subaru Outback.

3. Can you get a replacement emergency key?

Yes, you can usually get a spare emergency key for your Subaru Outback. You should check with your local dealership and manufacturer to find out how much a replacement set of keys will set you back. Manufacturer-ordered replacement keys are sometimes required.

You can get a spare emergency key by contacting the dealer or the manufacturer. Your Subaru Outback’s VIN, as well as other forms of identification and proof of ownership, may be required to authorize the issuance of a replacement key. The steps required to get a replacement key can change based on the dealer’s or manufacturer’s policies and the nature of the key’s loss.

Alternatively, you can visit the mater locksmith in your town to see what they can do for you. They can usually make replacement keys for cars without the original, though the service may take more time and cost more. Also, you may not have to provide proof of ownership to get a replacement key made—i.e., no questions asked.