What Does the “Car and Lock Symbol Light” Mean?

What Does the “Car and Lock Symbol Light” Mean?

Have you noticed a red car and lock symbol on your vehicle’s dashboard? Don’t let the red color send you into panic mode. Although the symbol looks like you’re somehow about to get locked out of your own car, the car and lock symbol just means your vehicle’s anti-theft system has been activated. Read on to learn more about this symbol.

What Is the Car and Lock Symbol?

The anti-theft system is installed to protect your vehicle from thieves. Well, car thieves, to be precise. You could get dispossessed of your wallet and that teddy bear you just got as a birthday gift, but the anti-theft system is designed to ensure you’re not dispossessed of your car without your consent. At least, not for long.

The anti-theft systems keep getting more advanced as time passes. It basically works by obstructing power from circulating through your car, which should either stall the vehicle or turn off the engine right away. The system could just be an engine immobilizer or it can be integrated into a car alarm system.

If your vehicle was made after 1998, it should have a factory-fitted immobilizer. Immobilizers have been required on all vehicles made since 1998 but you can have add-on immobilizer fitted if you have an older vehicle model without one.

The immobilizer is an installed electronic security system that stalls your vehicle’s engine if the “wrong” key is inserted.  That you’re asking this question shows that the activated anti-theft system in your car was most likely unintentional.

Why Does the Car and Lock Symbol Appear?

Have you done some work on your vehicle’s engine recently? Perhaps you sent in the car to have its engine refurbished? In that case, the sudden appearance of the car and lock symbol may not be unrelated with the recent work on your car’s engine. In a scenario like this, the car and lock symbol is most likely not the only strange development you’ve noticed on your car. The car could also exhibit starting trouble and all kinds of weird stuff that has to do with the vehicle’s power source; the battery and engine.

There are other things that can trigger a vehicle’s anti-theft system. For example, a dead battery may lose its key memory, which will in turn trigger the anti-theft system. You might also want to check that the battery in your key fob isn’t dead. Also, a damaged immobilizer chip in your key or your vehicle’s car door lock can trick the anti-theft system into thinking something is wrong.

Of course, something is wrong, but just not the way the system thought.

When a vehicle’s immobilizer integrates a car alarm, the anti-theft system can be triggered by movement inside the vehicle, the wrong key (key learning), charging alarm (applicable to electric vehicles), tilt/inclination, and forced entry involving the doors, trunk, or hood.

Whatever the case, you want your vehicle to return to normal operation and that unnerving car and lock symbol gone. Your first move should be to deactivate the security system. Then have the vehicle scanned to figure out what codes are triggering the car and lock symbol light.