If Your Car Won't Start, It May Be Your Car Key And Not The Engine

Posted on: 28 April 2015


Having a car that won't start may be one of the most frustrating experiences a person goes through, and it can be especially disheartening to think of all the major repair work you might be facing when the engine doesn't even try to turn over. However, before you assume that there is a problem with the car's engine or even the starter, you might consider that the key you use to start your car could be at fault.

The keys that are used to start cars today are often called transponder keys, and understanding their function can help you to determine if the key itself is at fault for your car not starting.

What is a transponder key?

A transponder key has a small computer chip inside that communicates with your car's engine, and this type of key is almost always standard for cars today. Transponder keys must be used to start the car's engine; if the car's engine doesn't get a signal from the key, its immobiliser keeps it from starting by any other means. This prevents someone from "hot-wiring" the car, or trying to start it by connecting ignition wiring under the steering column or forcing it to start with a screwdriver or fake key in the ignition.

How can you tell if the problem is the key?

The only real way of diagnosing a car that won't start is by having a mechanic actually check all its components, but one sure way of knowing that the key may be at fault is if you don't hear any sounds when you try to start the car. If the engine grinds but doesn't turn over, this usually means you have a weak battery. If you hear a clicking sound, this often means the electrical components are not working. However, if there is no sound at all, and especially if you see the dashboard lights or dials come on when you turn the key, this often means the engine simply won't even try to start since it's not getting that needed signal from the key.

What could be wrong?

The battery in your transponder key might be worn out; have this checked and replaced by your car's dealer or an automotive locksmith like Night & Day Locksmiths. The programming of the computer chip might also be malfunctioning; your car's owner's manual should tell you how to reprogram it, usually by hitting a series of buttons in a row. Try these fixes before you assume that your car's engine needs repair.