If you have owned a car long enough, let us say a few years, chances are high that you would encounter a dashboard symbol in the form of a car with lock symbol. Now, this is no reason for anybody to panic but it does require your attention. What this symbol means is that your vehicle is being protected by an anti-theft system. Usually, the car lock symbol goes on whenever your car senses that the key fob is not nearby and therefore activates the anti-theft system.

This symbol goes away whenever you insert your key into either the ignition or doors and start to drive. However, there can be some circumstances wherein this car with lock symbol on dash will remain and possibly, although rarely, prevent you from starting up your car. Another term for it is the immobilizer system in your vehicle.

This prevents the car from being tinkered on and driven away and stolen. This is indeed a cause of concern which is why you are here. Below we will discuss what this symbol is, what causes it, and more importantly, how to fix this anti theft car with lock symbol on dashboard.

What the Car And Lock Symbol Means

Why does it have a light?

Dashboard indicators need to be visible to ensure that the driver pays attention to what its saying. Sometimes the light is even accompanied by a beeping sound, to further ensure that its warning will be noticed. The dash light car with lock is there so that the owner or driver will take notice and do the appropriate action. However before we even begin to do basic troubleshooting, take a close look at the topic below.

What is an immobilizer?

The immobilizer system will shed light on what does the car and lock symbol mean. This is the system responsible for triggering the car light with lock symbol on your dashboard. It means exactly what its name suggests, where it prevents the car from moving if it senses that it is being tampered with.

If there is an attempt to forcibly enter your vehicle without your knowledge, this would activate the immobilizer, and along with that, the infamous anti theft system symbol, the car with a padlock.

The immobilizer is a more recent introduction into modern vehicles, which is a factory-installed security feature that deactivates the engine of your car if the wrong key is used or tampered with. When you see the car with lock symbol chevy on your dashboard, you should be concerned but not alarmed. This is an indication that your car has activated its security and anti-theft feature.

This is now a standard electronic device that prevents the car from being driven if the original key fob or transponder chip is not present. Vehicles equipped with this tech can no longer be “hot-wired” because no electrical signal will go through once the immobilizer is active. Sometimes, the car with padlock symbol can be activated even if the key fob is close at hand and we list the causes below.

Possible causes for lights staying on when the key is close

Having this car light with lock symbol flash in your dashboard can be annoying at best but may become troublesome if it prevents you from driving your own car. Aside from actual tampering of the vehicular starting system, the dash light can be triggered by other factors.

Low Battery of the Key Fob

Having a very low to the dead battery inside your key fob can lead to the dashboard light coming up. Fortunately, it is one of the easiest to fix among the car with lock symbol how to fix questions. SImply swap out the battery for a new one and you are all set. You may also want to check if the battery is correctly seated and not misaligned. What happens is that the key can no longer power the transponder chip inside, making your car think that the key is not nearby.

Bad Key

Car keys take a lot of abuse daily and sometimes the chip inside can get damaged. If you have already changed the battery and still the light won’t go away or the car still does not start, it could be the key itself that is the problem. Check visually for any physical damages and have the key serviced at your nearest trusted mechanic. A reprogram nowadays is not as costly as it was before.

Damaged Immobiliser

Another culprit to this problem is that the system itself was damaged. It could be a number of problems, from wiring to physical problems that resulted from an attempt at breaking in. It could also be the result of normal wear and tear in the course of the vehicle’s life. Part of the way to check this is to ensure that you are using the correct key to turn your ignition on. This can happen often with valet keys. This is also a good time to consult your owner’s manual.

Damaged Car Door Lock

Car thieves will not even bat an eye if they damage your car in the process, because they are trying to force themselves inside the vehicle they will attempt to manipulate the lock with brute force. These attempts can cause the lock to get damaged and not work properly, leading to the malfunction of the immobilizer with the dashboard lights on.

How to Bypass Anti – Theft System

If one of those above triggers your anti-theft system, you will need to disable it using several tried and true methods. You absolutely need to because you will not be able to drive your vehicle if you do not. We enumerate them below so you no longer have to do anything.

  1. Simply use the key – you can go this route to “prove” to your vehicle that you are the owner trying to get in. Once the vehicle senses the transponder chip in your key, it will reset and the dashboard light will be gone after a few seconds as you drive away. This is by far the easiest and simplest way to bypass your car’s alarm system.
  2. Removal of the alarm or immobilizer fuse – not only will this cut off power to the immobilizer system, but this will cause the system to do a reboot. This is the equivalent of turning on and off the computer and it usually works! You will need to consult with your manufacturer or the owner’s guide to point you to the location of the fuse itself.
  3. Turn on the ignition – what this means is to turn your key just above the accessories position as if you will crank the starter. However, do not start and watch the dashboard. The dashboard light icon should turn off a few minutes from this point. With this, you can then start the car as you would normally. Don’t take too long though as you may drain the battery.
  4. Give the door key a try – when your key fob is on alarm, give the door car key a try, insert it in the driver’s side door keyhole and turn it for 20-30 seconds. This will give the ECU enough time to recognize that the authorized key is inserted and will turn off the anti-theft activation.
  5. Hard reset the ECU by disconnecting the battery – as a last resort, try to force a reset by disconnecting the battery terminals for at least a few minutes. Reconnect the terminals and wait again before turning the key. If it is a simple glitch this would certainly clear it out by now.

It is our desire to make sure you are informed. So we did the legwork and got the most popular questions and their answers on top of the handy guide you just read.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How do I turn the car with a lock symbol off?

If it is a simple case of the anti-theft activating because of a forced entry or an error, simply using the key with you will resolve the issue. If that does not work, check the key fob for a weak battery or a dislodged one.

Check the key if there is physical damage that may affect the functionality. Try the doors with the supplied key as well. Lastly, you can disconnect the battery for an ECU reset.

What causes immobilizer malfunction?

Forcible entry attempts by car thieves, weak or dead key fob batteries, damaged anti-theft system, and damage to the door locks can result in the immobilizer system having an error. The most common is key fob battery issues either the battery ran dry or is not seated properly.

Is there a fuse for the anti-theft system?

There is definitely a fuse for every single system in a vehicle. However, you will need to consult the manufacturer’s guide to know exactly where the fuse is for your particular type of vehicle.

The location may differ but they would be in a general area of the vehicle, usually underneath the steering wheel column.

Do I need to go to the dealer when this happens?

Only when you have gone through the basic troubleshooting steps and the problems still remain. For a damaged transponder chip, only authorized dealers can replace and reprogram these keys.


This does not mean the end of the world for your vehicle when this happens. A lot of factors affect the immobilizer system and the best way to prepare yourself for a chance of this happening in your own car is through knowledge. When all of the above fails, it would be the right time to have your key fob checked as well as your antitheft system altogether. This is our hope that you have gained enough to be able to extract yourself from such a situation in case it happens to you.