Transmitter pocket—What it is and what it does

Vehicle manufacturers have, over time, invented newer technologies that have made driving easier and more comfortable. One such invention is the introduction of a keyless ignition system. Many of such systems would use a keyfob that allows you to start your car by just approaching it or with the push of a button.

However, if the keyfob dies, manufacturers made provision for drivers to start their cars using a transmitter pocket. Pocket transmitters can be found in vehicles like Chevrolet, Buick Enclave, Malibu, etc. So, what is a transmitter pocket, and how does it work? Read on to find out.

How does a transmitter pocket work?

The transmitter pocket is a small compartment where you can store the keyfob and other small car electronics. However, it does more than being a storage compartment for your fobs. By placing the fob in the transmitter pocket, a driver can start, park, or let a car idle for a while.

Transmitter pocket works like every other keyless ignition system. It typically works by transmitting signals to your car sensor to start your car. All you need to do is place the keyfob on it. When placed on the transmitter pocket, the fob sends a signal to the vehicle computer.

Once the system verifies that’s the correct key, it allows the driver to start the engine and do other things keyless vehicles can do. Thankfully, it works like this across all cars equipped with it. So, a transmitter pocket in GMC Terrain will work just like a transmitter pocket in Malibu and any other car.

What is a transmitter pocket in GMC?

A transmitter pocket in a GMC is a small compartment in a GMC designed to house the keyfob or other small electronics. Like pockets in every other car, it serves more than just holding the fob; it also allows you to drive your car when the key Fob is dead. You only need to place the keyfob correctly in the transmitter pocket.

To start a GMC with a transmitter pocket, locate the pocket and correctly place the fob on it. Once in place, put your car in park or neutral, press the brake pedal, and push the power button on your dash. In fact, the transmitter pocket does the same task across different cars. So whether it is the transmitter pocket Cadillac or transmitter pocket impala, you are good to go.

What is a transmitter pocket used for?

Transmitter pocket is a storage house for your key fob and other car accessories. It is also used to start or drive a vehicle. It does this by helping to transmit keyfob signals to your car’s receiver in the event your keyfob or its battery dies. It is especially useful for key fobs without keys.

For key fobs with keys, if your keyfob fails or the battery dies, you could insert the key into the ignition slot and start your car. However, for keyless key fobs, this is not possible; it must communicate with a sensor in your car to get anything done.

In this case, you only need to place key in transmitter pocket. The keyfob through the transmitter pocket signals the car sensors and allows you to start, park, or even keep your car idle for a while. Whether you want to use transmitter pocket to start in Trax, Equinox, or any other vehicle, the same principle applies.

Is a transmitter a keyfob?

A transmitter is not a keyfob but works with it. Particularly, it’s a term used for keyless remote systems. First understand what a key fob is. Generally, a fob is an object attached to a ring or key. So, when attached to a key, you call it a keyfob.

A transmitter is an electronic microchip inside the keyfob that helps transfer the signal from your key to your car to carry out certain activities. Without the transmitter, the fob is useless. So, while both terms are used interchangeably, they are not the same.

What are the parts of a transmitter pocket?

A transmitter pocket location would depend on your specific model and year. Some models like the GMC Yukon and other GM big SUVs have it by the center console front panel. Others, like the recent Hummer EV, have it in the rear cup holder by the driver’s right-hand side.

In certain cars, there are up to two backup locations for a transmitter pocket. Cars with bucket seats will have the pocket transmitter between the two cup holders by the driver’s right side. Whereas cars without bucket seats have it at the back of the lowest storage beneath or at the center of the front seats.

So, in reality, the position of the transmitter pocket in Buick Encore may be different from the transmitter pocket Chevy Traverse. Even cars from the same manufacturer and year could have different locations.

For example, while the back up location of the transmitter pocket in Chevy Cruze 2017  is moved to the front cup holder, the transmitter pocket in Impala 2017 is in the centre console. For your specific car, it’s best to contact your vehicle’s manual.

What does use transmitter pocket to start mean?

The “use transmitter pocket to start” is a warning message that pops up on the dashboard of cars with the feature telling drivers to start the car with the transmitter pocket instead of the keyfob. You may get this message if there is an issue with the keyfob.

Key Fobs, depending on your car model, allow you to open your door with the push of a button. Some with specific sensors can even detect when the fob is near the car and automatically open the door. They also allow drivers to turn on their cars without slotting any key into the ignition hole. They have a list of other functions depending on your model.

However, the keyfob does these things by first sending a signal to the car sensors to ascertain it is the right fob. So, if the keyfob or battery is bad or the wrong key is used, the keyless ignition will fail to recognize it, prompting a warning in your dash. Even using a bad fob on the pocket can start your car.

Should I program the vehicle’s pocket transmitter to my new keyfob?

Yes, you should. Car manufacturers usually configure the original keyfob to the transmitter pocket. So, buying a replacement keyfob will require you to program it to the transmitter pocket if you want it to work correctly.

There are, however, other ways to avoid this in the event you misplace or damage your keyfob. Some vehicles can recognize up to 8 fobs, so you can ask your dealer to configure extra fobs that you can use in case of emergencies. How to configure your fob will depend on your vehicle.

How do you start a car with a transmitter pocket?

Generally, pockets can help your fob communicate with your car sensor and start your engine. To use the transmitter pocket to start the car, first place the keyfob in your transmitter pocket with the buttons facing up. Some models will work even with the buttons facing either side.

Now, put the car in park or neutral; with your legs on the brake pedal, push the power button on your dash. This video should give a more visual explanation.

However, while this video explains how to use the transmitter pocket in Chevy Malibu 2017, it can also work for other vehicles. So you can also follow this step to use transmitter pocket to start your Equinox, Chevy, or any other vehicle.

Does the transmitter pocket charge the keyfob?

The transmitter pocket does not charge the keyfob. It only powers the keyfob to transmit the signal it couldn’t transmit. Once a dead key fob is removed from the pocket, the fob loses power again.

While the transmitter pocket can pick up signals from even a dead keyfob to start your car, replace bad key fobs or dead batteries ASAP. Keyfobs are controlled by a coin-size battery, depending on your model.

Final Words

Transmitter Pocket is a fast way to start your car when your fob or battery dies. In distress, just locate the pocket and place the fob; it will perform any activity every keyless system can do. So, where is the transmitter pocket? Your transmitter pocket location will depend on your model or year. With some in the center console, others have it in their cup holders.

So don’t expect to see a transmitter pocket in Chevy Trax in the same location as the transmitter pocket in Cadillac SRX. If in doubt, look through your owner’s manual for the location in your vehicle. It is recommended to replace bad finds as soon as possible. Use the transmitter pocket only in emergencies.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

Recent Posts