A quick guide to problems and solutions to why the ignition key won’t start the car. Possible reasons and solutions.

Ignition cylinder replacement

Ignition cylinder replacement

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There may be a few reasons why the ignition won’t start the car. Some of them are mechanical (such as a dead battery) and some of them are transponder key-related issues.

Ignition, wafers and replacement parts

Ignition, wafers and replacement parts

We will go over the signs to help you determine the cause and the solution.

 

Step One:

Older ignition cylinder (GM)

Older ignition cylinder (GM)

First, let’s figure out if this is a mechanical problem or a key-related problem.

There is an easy way to figure this out.

In case the key turns in the ignition AND the lights, radio, and signals are working it means the battery is good and therefore it is a key related issue.

If the key turns in the ignition but the lights, radio, etc. are not working, this is a mechanical problem and you should get advice from a mechanic.

In case the key won’t turn in the ignition, please see our recommendations here.

So, we now know that the battery is good, the key turns fine in the ignition, the lights and radio are on and working fine and there is even a clicking noise. What is the problem?

 

Step Two:

Transponder and key fob chip - Inside look

Transponder and key fob chip – Inside look

If the situation above sounds familiar, it looks like the problem is a transponder key or chip key-related issue.

Transponder key - must be coded to start the car

Transponder key – must be coded to start the car

 

Most models made after 2000 are equipped with a transponder security system built in the car’s computer.

This is a method to prevent unauthorized keys from starting the car. In other words, keys must be programmed into the car’s computer to start the car.

If everything works fine, but the car won’t start, it means that either the key isn’t program or you have the wrong chip value for the key.

Transponder and non transponder - One will start the car, the other will not

Transponder and non transponder – One will start the car, the other will not

 

Step Three – the solution:

First, you must verify that the key you have is a transponder key AND has the right value AND reprogram the key by an automotive locksmith or dealer.

Coding a replacement key should solve the problem

Coding a replacement key should solve the problem

Here is an example:

Below, two keys. Non-transponder key and a transponder key, that have the same keyway (meaning both will turn the ignition on but one won’t start the car since it isn’t a transponder key). You must make sure that if your car is transponder equipped, you have a transponder key. You can’t get this key copied or duplicated at the hardware store as it needs to be programmed.

Two Keys - Same Keyway. Both Will Turn The Ignition, But Only One(Bottom) Can Be Programmed

Two Keys – Same Keyway. Both Will Turn The Ignition, But Only One(Bottom) Can Be Programmed

 

Second, make sure you have the right value for the transponder key.

Below, two transponder keys that look the same, but carry a different chip value, and therefore one will start the car after programming and the other won’t.

The same key - two different transponder chips inside

The same key – two different transponder chips inside

 

When does it happen? When should I pay attention to programming or reprogramming? I just changed my battery and disabled the alarm. Is this in any way related?

The transponder system is related to the car’s battery, ignition, and alarm system.

Our professional locksmiths have seen many cases where changing the car’s battery results in erased keys, meaning the computer no longer recognizes the older keys that used to work just fine.

Moreover, installing an alarm may result in the same as well as changing the ignition cylinder.

Installing or replacing an ignition may cause a problem with coding

Installing or replacing an ignition may cause a problem with coding

The situations mentioned above are the most common reasons why the key won’t start, lost its value, and therefore require reprogramming.

Moreover, trying to start the car with the non-program key or non-transponder key or wrong chip value key may result in the same.

What is the bottom line? What should I do now?

You should contact the dealer or an automotive locksmith. Explain the situation in detail.

Either you had a working key and needs an additional one or installed a new battery and now the key won’t work.

Make sure you know the exact year make and model, as well as having the VIN number of the car. This will help to verify you have the right chip/value key.

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