Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

What Does the Key Not in Vehicle Warning Light Mean?

What Does the Key Not in Vehicle Warning Light Mean?

Key fobs have come a long way since they were first introduced. Originally, they were designed to unlock the doors with the press of a button. Nowadays, many security systems are capable of doing much more. Some cars are able to sense when the driver is approaching the vehicle with the key and doors will unlock automatically.

Another addition to this safety system is remote keyless ignition, which allows you to start the car without inserting the key anywhere. The key sends out a coded radio signal to let the car know that the correct key is being used.

What the key not in vehicle warning light means

The keyless entry system may differ from one manufacturer to another, so read through the owner’s manual for more information on how your specific keyless system works.

Cars equipped with keyless ignition will have a warning light on the dash to let you know if the correct key fob hasn’t been detected. Some of these systems may also let you know when the correct key has been detected and you can start the engine. Typically, the warning light will be orange or red if the key isn't detected, and a green light to let you know if the key is in range.

If the battery dies in the key fob, it won’t be able to communicate with the car and you won’t be able to start the car. Try replacing the batteries in the fob if this warning light comes on even when you have the right key with you in the vehicle. If a new battery doesn’t fix the issue, it is possible that the key has lost it’s programming and is not sending the correct code to start the vehicle. There is a procedure to force the key to relearn the correct code so you can start the car again. This procedure will vary between different models and some may require a diagnostic test to be performed.

Is it safe to drive with the key not in vehicle warning light on?

While the car should operate normally, you may not be able to restart the engine if you turn it off. If the key fob battery is low, there should be a backup process to start the vehicle so you can still use it.

If the code has been lost, may need to forcefully re-program the key. In this case, it may be necessary to go to the dealership where they have the equipment to perform the procedure. If your key fob doesn’t register correctly, our certified technicians would be able to help you identify the issue.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the P0052 code means This code is seen when the Engine Control Module (ECM) tries to control the...
The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Malaysia
CraigBurrows / Shutterstock.com Malaysia is a popular destination for many tourists today. The country has amazing sights and attractions that you will want to explore....
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...


Related questions

Q: Smart Entrance Control Module needs replacing

The SECM may be ok. It may have a power issue due to a blown fuse or relay. The SECM is an expensive part and may require factory level programming. I suggest having a qualified technician fully inspect your vehicle's...

Q: Car stalls and P0401 insufficient egr flow

The P0401 code is for low EGR flow, but would not be the cause of the stalling if the flow was too low. You also state the problem is when the engine is cold and goes away after it is...

Q: Help to shut all doors

Have you tried replacing the battery? Inside the key, the buttons activate triggers on a circuit board and a signal is sent to the vehicle. A weak battery or worn contact may be causing your concern. If a new fob...