Car With Lock Symbol – Meaning and How To Fix?

Dashboard symbols are essential for optimal driving experiences. These symbols allow the driver to keep track of what’s happening on different car system components. For instance, a car with a lock symbol on the dashboard means the anti-theft system has been triggered.

This article has explained the issue of cars with a lock symbol – how to fix it in detail. You’ll also learn the symptoms of a bad anti-theft system, why your car displays a car with a lock symbol, and what happens when a car with a lock symbol appears on your dashboard. So, grab a seat and a cup of coffee to have a fun walk-through while decoding the lock symbol and learning the ways of fixing it.

car with lock symbol while driving

Meaning of car with lock Symbol

If you see a car with a lock symbol on your dashboard, you’ll be wondering what does the lock symbol mean on my car? A vehicle with a lock symbol on the dashboard is a precautionary security feature in modern cars that enhances your car security and minimizes car theft.

In simpler terms, a car with a lock symbol flashing on the dashboard means the anti-theft security feature has been triggered. Auto manufacturers design this security feature to activate whenever your car security is compromised. For instance, the system will activate whenever someone tries to steal your car, especially when opening the locks with a different key.

However, the system can also activate when the car security remains intact. In such cases, it could be you have a dead or low-key fob battery power. The keys will not work correctly if the battery runs out of juice. Once the car system detects this improper signal from the key, it’ll trigger anti-theft security to notify the driver that something is not working correctly.

How to fix Cars with a lock symbol

Several factors can trigger a car with a lock symbol. Therefore, there are several approaches to fixing it. Here are the possible ways to fix a car with a lock symbol on the dash, Toyota, and other car models.

Method 1: Inspect the key fob and cylinder

Start by inspecting the battery on your key fob and ensure it is working correctly. If it is malfunctioning, the key fob is likely the culprit. Also, ensure you installed the battery correctly, as it can be the cause.

Inspect the ignition cylinder. If you have a break-in attempt or any damage to the lock cylinder, it could activate the anti-theft security. Car theft usually tries stealing cars by jamming screwdrivers into the lock cylinder. So, you want to ensure there’s no scratch on the cylinders.

If you have a damaged lock on the driver’s door, unlock and lock the doors with a physical key from the passenger’s door. This will clear off the anti-theft warning on the dash. Lastly, ensure you start the car with the correct key. Some vehicles come with valet keys. Valet keys can only unlock and lock the doors but do not have the required chip to read and start the car.

Method 2: Start the car

Typically, with a car and lock symbol on the dashboard, the car won’t start. So, you have to turn off the security light before starting the vehicle. So, follow the steps below to erase the light and start the car.

Insert the key and ensure the anti-theft light is flashing. Then, try to start the car. After that, switch the ignition to the off position and allow the vehicle to sit for a few minutes if the security light has stopped flashing. The car should reset after a few minutes, and you should be able to start the vehicle.

Now, insert the key into the ignition and try to start the car after it is cold. Ensure that both the key fob and car batteries are still alive. If not, the vehicle may not start.

Method 3: Unlock the doors with a physical key

Unlock the car doors with a physical key. If your car uses a keyless button, examine the key fob and slide the switch on it. This will push out the hidden physical key. Next, insert the key into the driver’s door latch and unlock the door.

Do not open the door once you unlock it. Leave the key in the unlock position for 30 to 45 seconds. This will inform the car security system that you have the right key. However, cars work in different ways.

Some cars will not notice that you have the right key by just leaving the key in the unlock position. So, if this doesn’t do the trick, try unlocking and locking the door multiple times without opening it. Then, after some time, try starting the car while leaving the doors unlocked.

Method 4: Locate and inspect the immobilizer fuse

Car immobilizers usually have fuses that prevent them from premature damage. However, the car security system may trigger the anti-theft and display a key lock symbol on the dash once the fuse blows. If this is the leading cause, you’ll need to trace and replace the immobilizer fuse. Do not replace the blown fuse with higher or lower amperage.

Also, check the immobilizer itself and ensure it is working properly. A dead immobilizer could be the culprit. Deactivate the immobilizer if it is the cause.

Method 5: Unplug one battery terminal

Open the hood and unplug one battery terminal to perform a hard electronic reset. Let the car sit for 5 to 10 minutes before reconnecting the unplugged battery terminal. After that, try starting the car and see if it’ll come on.

car with lock symbol flashing


Why is my car showing a car with a lock on it?

Your car can display a car with a lock on the dashboard for several reasons. For instance, it could be someone tries to break into your vehicle, the key fob battery is dead, the blown immobilizer fuse or the immobilizer is damaged. In any case, the light means the anti-theft security system has been triggered.

How do I get my car out of anti-theft mode?

As explained earlier, several methods exist to remove the lock symbol on a car, depending on the leading cause. However, here’s the most common way of getting out of anti-theft mode. First, insert the physical key and unlock the driver’s door. Then leave the key inside in the unlock position without opening the door for 30 to 45 seconds.

If that doesn’t fix the problem, repeatedly lock and unlock it with the physical key. If this method does not get rid of the anti-theft mode, scroll up and try the other methods listed above.

How long does it take for the anti-theft system to reset?

This depends on the approach you choose and your vehicle model. For instance, if you decide to reset the car anti-theft system on your Honda car by unlocking and locking the driver’s door with a physical key, it’ll take around 10 minutes of driving to reset the anti-theft system. Other vehicles may take lesser or longer than that.

What happens when your car goes into anti-theft mode?

If your car goes into the anti-theft mode for any reason, it’ll project a car with a lock symbol on the dashboard and prevent the car engine from starting. This can happen for several reasons, but until you track and fix the leading cause, the vehicle will not start. Meanwhile, this can happen for no apparent reason, such as having a locked steering wheel. Therefore, you have to check every possible cause and rectify it.

Final Words

The anti-theft features in cars make it difficult to steal cars in today’s world. However, they can malfunction and keep you frustrated or, at least, make you think you have serious underlying problems that need your attention.

 The system can act up due to lousy keys, dead key batteries, faulty door locks, etcetera. When the car triggers the anti-theft feature, the car won’t start until you deactivate it. This article has explained car with a lock symbol how to fix, to help you resolve the issue and start your vehicle. Follow the above guidelines religiously to clear the security light and start your car.

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.

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