Car Immobilizer Systems Function and Troubleshooting

Hello friends, in this article we are going to discuss about the car immobilizer system. So you will know what the symptoms will appear when the immobilizer system malfunction and how this technology can help to protect your car. Here we go…

Car immobilizer functions

A car immobilizer system is a great piece of electronic security technology which is basically an anti-theft system. Its purpose is to prevent a vehicle from being hot-wired and stolen by a thief who doesn’t have a key to start the engine. Research studies have proven there are 40% fewer car thefts since immobilizers were introduced into cars.

If you’ve purchased a car that was made within the last 20 years, then you’ve probably already experienced this technology without even realizing it. The car keys that the dealers distribute now are basically key fobs or smart keys. That is why the base of the key contains buttons to unlock and lock the door. If you’ve been given a key fob, then the key is not attached to this base. You just have to be inside the vehicle with the key fob in order to use it.

The inside of the key contains a transponder chip. When you put the key into the ignition, the transponder chip inside the key sends a security code to the car’s immobilizer. This security code is random each time you start the vehicle and your key is the only source that can generate the correct token for the vehicle. If it is a legitimate key, then your engine will start.

Top 4 Symptoms of Immobilizer Problems

Like anything else that is electronic, an immobilizer system can malfunction and case lots of problems for you. Below are the top 4 symptoms that you can expect to experience whenever there is a malfunction with your immobilizer system.

  1. Locking Problems – When you use your key to lock the doors of your vehicle remotely, the doors do not lock. Unfortunately, modern-day vehicles don’t have keyholes on the outside of the doors, so you cannot open them manually with your key. Without a working smart key or key fob, the only way you can lock your doors is if you lock them from the inside as the doors are open and then you close the doors.
  2. Unlocking Problems – Continuing on from the last symptom, you probably won’t be able to unlock your doors with your smart key if you cannot lock them either. This means if you lock the doors from the inside and then close the doors, you won’t be able to get back into your car because your key won’t be able to unlock the doors. At this point, you’d have to call a locksmith to unlock the door.
  3. Engine Does Not Start – The biggest symptom is that your vehicle does not start at all. If it weren’t for the problems with the locking mechanisms, there could be a wide variety of reasons why your engine does not start. But if you experience those problems and have an engine that doesn’t start, then you clearly have a problem with either your immobilizer or the smart key itself.
  4. Alarm Problems – Since the immobilizer is the main security feature of your vehicle, that means your alarm system won’t work either if the immobilizer is faulty.

Read also: Causes of car engine low compression and how to fix

How to Fix

Many immobilizer problems can be fixed simply by replacing the smart key or key fob. Often times, when someone goes to change the battery in their key, they will lose the transponder chip or damage it in some way to cause the malfunction. In these situations, you will have to contact the dealer and request a new key. They are not cheap to replace either so be prepared to shell out one or two hundred dollars for a new key.

If the actual immobilizer system in the vehicle is to blame, then it could be due to the wires being corroded or damaged. Perhaps the engine control unit or its sensors are malfunctioning or faulty. These situations would require you to go to your dealer and have their mechanics fix the problem.

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