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Key Warning Light (Red)

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What does the red key warning light do and why is it on?

The red key warning light means there is a security error code. This light illuminates when the vehicle control modules see the ignition turned with a key that is not programmed to the vehicle or when there is an error within the security protocol of the vehicle’s security system.

Common reasons for this to happen

  • Faulty key
  • Dead key fob battery
  • Faulty key antennae
  • Faulty control module
  • Electrical interference

Can I drive with the red key warning light on? (Can I drive in Fail-Safe Mode?)

In most cases, the vehicle will not start when the red key warning light is illuminated. It will have to be towed to a repair facility capable of programming and servicing the security system of your specific vehicle.

How do I fix a red key warning light?

  1. Replace the key fob battery 
  2. If the concern persists, you will have to tow the vehicle to a repair facility capable of servicing your vehicle’s security system.
  3. Another option is to have a mobile key programmer to come to you and service the vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes the red key warning light to come on?

  • In some cases, this can be caused by aftermarket keys being programmed to the vehicle. They don’t always retain the memory the way a dealership key will. 

My car wouldn’t start and the red key warning light was on but now it does, what’s wrong?

  • In some cases, if there is a loose connection in the system it can cause an intermittent failure. Check the physical appearance of your keys. If the keys show signs of damage or wear they may need to be replaced.

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15 Comments

  1. You are talking about the red circle where you put the key in ????

    1. My car has the red key on, but when I start it it starts whaat would be the problem

      1. I have the red car with key light on . But the car wont start what could it be? If I jump it off it will start.

        1. Yeah in that how you jump it

    2. Hello there,

      My Nisan pulsar 2017 has shown a red light with security lock, I called key service company and I was told that the car key fob is okay, taking to a Nissan local garbage and still could not fins a fault.

      What could have been wrong?

  2. This is good information,I haven’t had any issues with this red light but in case I do I’ll know thank you so much.

  3. Thanx for the heads up!

    1. Gentlemen! Please keep bringing information about automobiles. With the Covid-19 Pandemic we have more time to read your articles. Thank. CL

  4. I have “on occasion” left my key in the car and locked myself out. But, I have an unprogrammed key in my wallet just to get the door open. Most often the programmed key is still in the ignition. Can I safely assume that, using the programmed key, the car will start with no red light key showing?

  5. I have had “FIXED” for several years and installed in my 2001 Dodge Dakota. When the truck started to run very rough if at all FIXED diagnosed my problem as being misfiring in 3 cylinders. This led to getting a repair bid of rebuilding the engine at the cost of $7000. I still have that truck trying to make a decision to either have a rebuilt engine installed or have the existing engine rebuilt or get rid of the truck.
    Since then I have purchased a 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.. My question is will the FIXED work in the new vehicle with all bells and whistles and the Hybrid system

  6. In most cases you can reset your own security system. I wrote this for the help website FIXYA where I often recommend FIXD.

    This is how you reset an anti theft system if you have the anti-theft light on, or your car is cranking, but you have no spark.

    Doing a full reset of the anti-theft system.

    Disconnect both battery leads for at least two hours.
    Hold the negative and positive leads together for 5 minutes to fully discharge any power.
    Put the key in the ignition, but not turned on. VERY IMPORTANT!
    Connect the positive lead.
    Connect the negative lead in one swift movement.
    Wait 15 minutes for the system to fully reset.

    1. Maybe the fob battery needs to be replaced.

  7. Yours are good points, but you overlook the value of keeping a “dumb” key — one that fits the ignition but lacks the electronics to validate the key. In my vehicle, that sort of key could be used to unlock the doors, or turn on the car, but cannot be used to start it. That sort of key is also small, lightweight, and relatively indestructible. So if I’ve driven somewhere and need to recharge my phone, I can leave it on the car charger with the key in the ignition at the “Acc” position, locking the vehicle with the smart key. Alternately, I can put the smart key in the glove box, locking both it, and the vehicle doors with the dumb key that can be tied into my shoes when I do something athletic or otherwise risk getting the smart key wet,

  8. I have a Toyota Yaris IA 2017 and a new after market key was made by a mobile programmer. Now ever since he made the new key, there has been a permanent warning red light on my dashboard. I have tried all possibilities to remove that sign to no avail. In all honesty, I have spent over seven hundred dollars bringing the car twice to a Toyota dealer repair shop on Boston Road in the Bronx, New York. They had charged me more than three hundred dollars on each occasion for doing nothing at all. Besides that, I ordered to more keys without any positive results. I gave up all hopes to delete that damned light but now that I find this forum maybe some guys of you could give me any idea of what I should do to finish with this. I was in love with my car but since that incident happened I lost my interest in the car. Please help if you can. I will be very appreciative if you do.

  9. i have a 2015 honda civic se and when i click on any button on the key fob a red light turns on. it does the same thing with the spare. using the key fob it does not lock or unlock the car. Also when i insert the key and turn nothing happens. No dash lights come on nothing. no light inside my car turn on and i can’t even lock or unlock the car using the buttons on sides of the car. i can lock and unlock by inserting the key thru outside the door

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