Car With Lock Symbol – How to Fix

Dashboard symbols are a way to inform the driver of what is going on in the car. It is essential that you pay attention to them. For instance, when the “car with lock” symbol appears on your dashboard, the anti-theft system is activated. So, what can you do to fix it?

Closely examine the cylinder and try to start the ignition using the key or the button. Then, put the key into the door of your car and see if that works. If it doesn’t work, try using the mechanical key to unlock the door. You can also turn the ignition to “on,” check the fuses and disconnect the battery terminal.

Read onleadinglearn more about the main causes of the “car with lock” symbol and how to fix it.

How to Fix a Car with Lock Symbol

car with lock symbol

Activated Anti-theft System

The anti-theft system is activated when you see a “car with lock” symbol on a Toyota, Ford, Chevy, or any other brand. Its primary purpose is to keep thieves away from your car. Well, car thieves, to be more precise.

Prevents Power from Flowing Through Your Car

It simply works by preventing power from flowing through your car, which should either cause the car to stall or immediately shut off the engine. It is possible for the system to function only as an engine immobilizer or to be linked with a car alarm system.

Cars Built After 1998 Have an Immobilizer

Now, anti-theft systems continue to evolve as time goes on. Your car should have an immobilizer installed from the factory if it was built after 1998.

All cars built after 1998 must have immobilizers. However, if you have an older model without one, you can install an add-on immobilizer.

What Is an Immobilizer?

If you insert the wrong key in your car, this immobilizer, which acts as a built-in electronic security system, will stop your engine. This, in turn, can accidentally trigger the anti-theft system in your car.

An immobilizer is a security feature that makes it impossible to start the engine without the proper key. When you use the wrong key, the immobilizer will immediately disable the engine and react immediately to stop the car from driving.

When this happens, the dashboard’s immobilizer indicator starts to flick, and the symbol “car with lock” pops up on your dashboard.

You can still start your car’s immobilizer with a key. Lock your vehicle by pressing the “car with lock” symbol on the dashboard if you do not have your keys or your car’s battery is low.

What Causes Car with Lock Symbol to Pop Up

Generally speaking, your car’s key should be close enough for the transponder chip in the key fob, which broadcasts a code to the vehicle’s immobilizer system, to receive it. 

However, even when the key is close enough for the code to be transmitted, the immobilizer system may get activated, so the lights turn on and the symbol “car with lock” pops up. This usually happens due to the following:

1. Low Battery

The immobilizer light on the dashboard might turn on due to a low battery. When a car’s battery is low, it loses the memory of the key. Even if the key is close enough, it can still not start since its code will not be recognized and will be seen as alien to the car.

2. Damaged Car Door Lock

When the anti-theft system detects any forced entry into your car, the dashboard lights turn on, the immobilizer kicks in, and the engine can no longer start. A broken car door lock can sometimes lead to this.

While the immobilizer system may be a cutting-edge security feature, it is not a highly developed AI system.

As a result, the system could be unable to distinguish between an attempted car robbery and a broken car door lock. So, you then end up with the “car with lock” symbol.

3. Bad Key

If you have a damaged key, your car’s immobilizer system can also get active. If your car has keyless ignition, you might not realize it immediately.

The key’s chip could be broken, preventing it from connecting the proper code to the immobilizer system. When this happens, the anti-theft system will immediately get activated.

4. Immobilizer Damage

Check the condition of your immobilizer if your dashboard’s immobilizer lights are still on. A damaged immobilizer might prevent the transponder key’s code from being read.

How to Fix the Car with Lock Symbol 

car with lock symbol how to fix

1. Examine the Key and Cylinder

Check the Battery First

Check the battery first to ensure your key fob is in good working condition. When your key fob is malfunctioning, and your car’s anti-theft system is active, a dead key fob is usually to blame.

Remember that even if your key fob is not dead, the battery might not be appropriately placed, so you will still need to check it.

Take a Closer Look at the Door Lock Cylinder

Take a closer look at the door lock cylinder. The anti-theft system may have been activated if your car was hit due to a break-in or another incident. Ensure the lock cylinder is intact because car thieves usually use screwdrivers to jimmy open doors.

You can also use the cylinder on the passenger side to turn off the anti-theft system if you have a damaged lock.

Make Sure You Use the Right Key

Make sure you use the right key to start your car. Many cars feature a valet door or key that only unlocks the door. While valet keys can unlock your car, they lack a chip and cannot turn it on.

Valet keys usually have a different color on the head or a “V” engraved on the shaft.

2. Start the Ignition 

You will not be able to start the engine if your anti-theft system has frozen. To turn off the system and start your car, follow these instructions:

Ensure the Anti-theft Light Is Flashing

Check the anti-theft light on your car and ensure it is on and flashing. You mustn’t confuse it with other symbols that appear on your dashboard. Then, try to start the engine.

Turn Off the Key

Turn off the key and let your car sit if the anti-theft light has stopped flashing for a few minutes. This will reset the system, and you should be able to start the vehicle.

Try to Start the Car When It Is Cold

Try to start the car when it is cold and turn the ignition on after inserting your key. Ensure the battery is not dead if your vehicle will not start. Otherwise, you can always contact a professional locksmith if unsure of what is wrong.

3. Put the Key Into the Door of Your Car

Use Your Actual Key to Turn the Latch on the Driver’s Side Door

Use your key to turn the latch on the driver’s side door. If your car is keyless, your key fob should contain a button letting you slide out the key.

Use Your Actual Key to Turn the Latch on the Driver’s Side Door

Leave the key in the unlocked position for about 30 seconds or so. This will let your car’s alarm system know you have the right key.

Some cars will not recognize the key unless you repeatedly turn the cylinder in the door. Try holding the key in the door and spinning it in both directions to turn off the anti-theft system.

Try Starting the Car

Take the key out of the door, and now try starting your car. Make sure the door cylinder is still in the unlocked position before you proceed, though.

Again, what causes a car with a lock symbol on the dashboard? The anti-theft system’s icon is a car with a lock symbol. When this is illuminated, this means the anti-theft system is on.

4. Use the Mechanical Key to Unlock the Door (Part 1)

Depending on your car type, it may be possible to start the engine using the mechanical key:

  • Remove the mechanical key from the fob and use it to open the doors if the car won’t respond to commands from the fob. This could signal to the car that your key is okay to use. 
  • You can also remove the pushbutton cover to show the ignition cylinder lock.
  • Find the backup fob that holds slots on certain types of cars as a transponder that can recognize the key will be within the slot.

Another way to use the mechanical key is by following the steps below:

  • Try to insert the mechanical key into the door lock first. Then, unlock, lock, and unlock the door once more. Once done, try to start the car.
  • If that still does not work, insert the mechanical key into the lock. When you turn the key to open the door, hold it there for 40 seconds before reversing the direction. This should allow you to start the car. 
  • If this doesn’t work, exit the car and lock it with the key before trying to unlock it and then start the car again.

For this method to work in certain car models, you will need a so-called “cheat code.” For instance, to reset the anti-theft system on some Honda Accord models, you must turn the key to unlock, lock, lock again, and then unlock the car before it starts again.

5. Examine the Fuses

The immobilizer usually has a fuse attached, which can blow over time. Locate the fuse and evaluate its condition through the owner’s manual. 

While we are at it, it is always a good idea to carry a few fuses in various amp ratings, just in case something happens.

Fuses are simple to fix usually but can cause great discomfort when they explode. Although this method is significantly quicker than the last one, you might get muddy depending on where the correct fuse box is.

6. Unplug One of the Battery Terminals

Disconnect one of the battery terminals to perform a hard reset on the electronics system if you have the right equipment. Reconnect the terminals, give it a few minutes, and then try to start the car.


car with lock symbol on dashboard

What Does the Car with Lock Symbol on Dash Mean?

This warning light is there to tell you that the anti-theft system in your car is now active. It simply works by preventing power from flowing through your car, which should either cause the car to stall or immediately shut off the engine.

It is possible for the system to function only as an engine immobilizer or to be linked with a car alarm system.

What Causes the “Car With Lock” Symbol to Appear on My Dashboard?

Many factors lead to activating the anti-theft system in your car, such as a dead battery. When the battery dies, it might lose track of the key, which would set off the anti-theft system. A dead key fob can also trigger the anti-theft system. 

Other causes may include a broken immobilizer chip or car door lock. All of these will disable the engine from starting.

What Does the Car with Lock Symbol on a Ford Mean?

It lets you know that the engine immobilizer on your Ford car is armed and functioning as it should. As a passive anti-theft technology, Ford’s immobilizer system, known as “SecuriLock,” prevents someone from starting and driving away with your car if they don’t have your keys.

Every time you park and turn off your car, the car and lock lights flash on the dashboard. This is entirely normal.

The best thing about the feature is that it is constantly on, and you do not need to worry about turning it on or off. If the immobilizer light is no longer flashing on your dashboard, bring your car to a Ford service center to have it looked at.

What Does the Car with Lock Symbol on a Chevy Mean?

This symbol is a visual cue that your car has a security system that turns off the engine when using the wrong key. 

The flashing light may dissuade potential car thieves too. They will need the key fob to start the car if they notice the light. Typically, the key fob has a microchip that transmits a signal to your vehicle.

What Does a Yellow Car with Lock Symbol Mean?

If you see a yellow warning light with a lock symbol on your car’s dashboard, your car’s immobilizer is not recognizing the inserted key.

This may also happen when you have a damaged transmission antenna. Other causes may include a defective electronic control unit or a problem with your key code.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix the Anti-theft System?

Anti-theft system diagnosis and testing typically cost between $44 and $56. This does not include taxes. Needless to say that the type of car you have and the state you live in can all affect the overall cost.

What Can I Do If My Car Won’t Start With the Lock Symbol On?

The key fob battery is the first thing to examine if your car won’t start and you see the “car with lock” symbol on your dashboard. Most likely, the internal battery has run out of power, making it impossible for your car to detect the signal.

If you change the battery and the problem persists, you may have a damaged key fob. The microchip inside will be unable to connect with your car if it is broken and will continue to be deactivated if your car can’t see it.

The immobilizer is another thing you should look at. If it is not working properly, your car will not start. While it may be the least expected reason for no starts, it might nevertheless happen.

You can always ask your mechanic to take a closer look at your immobilizer if you try the two solutions mentioned above and nothing works.

Conclusion – How to Fix the Car With Lock Symbol on Dashboard

When the “car with lock” symbol pops up on your car’s dashboard, it tells you that the anti-theft system has been activated.

The anti-theft system is there to deter thieves and protect your car from intruders. It stops the flow of power through your car, forcing your car to stall or promptly turn the engine off. 

To fix this issue, try the following:

  • Examine the cylinder and the key,
  • Start the ignition using a key or a button,
  • Put the key into the door of your car,
  • Try using the mechanical key to unlock the door if none of the above works, and
  • You can also turn the ignition to “on,” check the fuses and disconnect the battery terminal.