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How to Resolve Vehicle Immobiliser Problems

Immobiliser - How does it work?

An immobiliser is a security feature to prevent thieves operating your vehicle.

For a vehicle engine to start you need three basic things. For the engine to be turned over using a starter motor, fuel to go to the engine and for that fuel to be ignited.

An immobiliser disables one or more of those elements to prevent the engine being started. It will do this if certain security conditions are not met. The main feature in most cars today uses an electronic chip in the car key which communicates with the car’s ECU (Electronic Control Unit). Basically the computer for the vehicle. If the ECU is not reading the key chip code or the correct one, then the immobiliser kicks in.

Does your car have an immobiliser?

Pretty much every vehicle made in the last 25 years or so (especially in North America & Europe) has a factory fitted immobilser system.

Your vehicle’s hand manual should refer to it. Also usually present on the dashboard cluster of warning lights is one for the immobiliser. This is usually depicted by a key shaped icon and be seen along with all the other warning lights when you first insert and turn your key to position II. It should then extinguish after a couple of seconds. If it stays illuminated then likely your immobiliser is operated and disabling your car from starting. If it does go out then the immobiliser is likely not the problem you’re having. Go back to this section and work through other reasons.

Immobiliser Warning

A factory fitted immobiliser on a car will usually have dash warning light simiilar to this. Sometimes just a picture of a key.

If the immobiliser is the issue, what to do?

– First, get back out of the car and lock it all up using your remote control, if you have one, or otherwise via the key lock. Then re-enter and see if you can start it.

– Do you have a spare key? Try that as the code from the original key may not be being read properly.

– Do you have a wireless key? If so, the battery may be low and not able to send the signal sufficiently. Try placing it close to the steering wheel shroud and then try to start. Alternatively change the battery.