One of the most important indications drivers can use to keep track of their car’s performance is the dashboard lights. These lights display status information about the components and systems that allow the vehicle to function. And when a light turns on, drivers know there may be a problem they must address.
The lock symbol warning light is one of the strangest symbols that drivers sometimes see on their dashboards. This dashboard symbol generally indicates that a security and anti-theft system has been activated. While the symbol might seem alarming to drivers who first notice it, the illuminated lock symbol is generally straightforward for drivers to address.
What Does a Car With Lock Symbol Mean?
When the lock symbol is lit up on your vehicle’s dashboard, it indicates that the anti-theft system is activated. This entails the activation of a factory-fitted immobilizer that prevents the engine from starting if the correct information isn’t received from the ignition key or fob.
Generally, the immobilizing system is extremely helpful to drivers. It ensures that malicious car thieves aren’t able to steal the car easily. Unfortunately, the anti-theft system can activate for many inconvenient reasons and actively work against drivers. If you notice that your car’s anti theft mode is constantly starting, it may be a result of minor issues such as:
- A damaged lock on your car door
- A dead key fob battery
- A dead battery in your car
- A broken immobilizer chip in your key
There are many points in the authentication process where issues can occur. When you unlock your car with a smart key or fob, the microchip inside the fob sends a code to the Engine Control Unit (ECU). If the authentication code that the immobilizer receives is correct, the car will unlock, and the engine will start.
If any of the components in the smart authentication system are broken, however, the car won’t be able to start properly. If the immobilizer or other authentication components in your car begin to fail, you may notice issues including:
- Your car won’t lock and unlock properly
- Your engine won’t start
- Your key won’t turn in the ignition
- Your car alarm goes off constantly
What To Do About Car With Lock Symbol
Check To See If Your Key Fob Is Dead
One of the most common things that cause a cars anti theft system to activate is when the key fob dies. When the microchip inside the key isn’t receiving power, your vehicle won’t receive the authentication information necessary to deactivate the immobilizer and start the engine.
If you believe that the battery in your key fob is dead, you should start by determining what kind of batteries the key uses. Generally, this information is printed on the shell of the key fob — and you can also search online if necessary. Once you’ve purchased the correct type of battery, you should prepare to replace it using a flat-bladed screwdriver to pry the key fob open at the seam gently.
Once the key fob is open, remove the old battery and insert the new battery with the correct orientation. Test if the battery has resolved the issue by attempting to unlock your car and start the engine.
Use The Key Instead Of Your Car Fob
It’s common for car fobs to sometimes work improperly when it comes to authentication. If you want the best chances of getting past the anti-theft system and starting your car properly, it’s worth attempting to use the physical key instead.
Check if the car door will unlock when you use your physical key. Even if you just have a fob, most car fobs have a button that allows you to pull out a physical key. After unlocking the door with the key, allow it to stay in the lock for 30 seconds.
Your car should be able to authenticate the key properly once the key has been allowed to sit. If you want to be sure that your car will unlock, you can also turn the key back and forth. When enough time has passed, get into your vehicle and test if the engine will start.
Inspect Your Vehicle For Damage
Sometimes, your car’s anti-theft system may behave strangely because your car had an attempted break-in. If you notice that your vehicle has a lot of signs of damage, such as scratches around the door locks or damage inside your vehicle, you should consider replacing the lock.
Reset The Anti-Theft System Using The Ignition
Cars will sometimes refuse to start due to the anti-theft system being activated. You may notice that your car with a lock symbol warning light doesn’t seem willing to dim the indicator no matter what you do. Luckily, you can reset the anti-theft system using the ignition.
To start, you should insert your car key into the ignition and wait for the accessories in your car to start. Don’t start the engine. This should allow your key to authenticate. Once the anti-theft light turns off, turn the car off, remove your key, and allow the vehicle to sit for several minutes.
Once the car has been turned off for several minutes, you’ll need to start the car again. Reinsert the key into the ignition and turn it until the engine turns on. In most cases, this should cause the anti-theft system to deactivate and the car to start properly.
Verify That You’re Using The Correct Key
Many cars come packaged with a spare valet key. This key allows valets all the access they need to park your vehicle. The key doesn’t allow valets to access sensitive locked areas like the glove box or trunk, which also helps to keep your valuables safe from theft.
If you’ve inadvertently been using the valet key, it can have some potential drawbacks. Valet keys are sometimes prone to malfunctioning with the anti-theft system. If you notice that the lock warning symbol seems to be activating, you should verify that you’re using the right key.
Resolving Issues With Your Car With Lock Symbol
It can be highly frustrating when your car constantly has the lock symbol warning light illuminated. This can often lead to irritating situations where your car won’t unlock or start properly. With these resolution methods, most issues with a car with a lock symbol can be easily resolved. If your vehicle is still having issues, you may need to contact an experienced technician for help.