Advice From A Houston Locksmith On How To Shut Off Your Car’s Anti-Theft Device

At some point in time, it is possible that your car’s anti-theft system will briefly malfunction. This can happen for several reasons: 

  • Your remote battery could be dead
  • The car’s battery could be dead – this would cause the key memory to be lost
  • You may have a damaged immobilizer chip in your key
  • You may have a damaged car door lock

If the anti-theft system is not working properly, then you will have to find a way to shut off the system manually so that your car can resume normal operation. If you have a damaged door lock, it might be smart to consider hiring a Pop-A-Lock locksmith. If you find that you are in a situation where your car’s anti-theft device stops working properly, keep reading for three ways to shut off the alarm yourself.

Method 1: Check the cylinder and key

Step 1: Check the battery on your fob. It is fairly common for the anti-theft system on a car to activate if your key fob is dead – a dead key fob is one that your car cannot “see”. Keep in mind that your key fob might not be dead, but the battery is simply not installed correctly.

Step 2: Check the door lock cylinder. If your vehicle has been damaged, during an attempted break-in or theft or otherwise, the anti-theft system might have been triggered. Check to see if the lock cylinder is damaged, and also check underneath the door handle – thieves have been known to use screwdrivers in an attempt to jimmy the door open.

If you find that the lock is damaged, the passenger side cylinder can also be used to shut off the anti-theft system.

Step 3: Check to make sure that you are using the right key to get your car started. It may seem ridiculous, but many vehicles have a valet door or key that performs only the function of unlocking a door. Though valet keys can unlock your door, they do not have a chip, and therefore cannot start your car.

Tip: Valet keys frequently have a different colored head, or a “V” inscribed on the key shaft.

Method 2: Turn on the ignition

If your engine has been locked up by the anti-theft system, you will be unable to start the vehicle. To disable the system and start your car, use the following steps.

Step 1: Check the anti-theft light. Most modern cars have a dash light that indicates that the anti-theft system has been triggered. The icon for the anti-theft system looks like a car and a lock combination. When this light is on and flashing (it will be either or blue), it will indicate that your car’s anti-theft system is activated.

Step 2: Turn on the ignition. Insert your car key into the ignition and turn it on just so that the accessories activate, but not the engine.

Step 3: Do a secondary check on the anti-theft light. If it is no longer blinking, turn the key to the “off” position and let your car sit for a couple of minutes. This allows the system to fully reset itself, or your car won’t start.

Step 4: Try starting the car fully. Put your key back into the ignition and turn the car all the way on. If your car still won’t start, make sure that the issue you’re experiencing isn’t a dead battery. If you are still unsure what the issue is, consider contacting one of Pop-A-Lock’s expert locksmiths.

Step 5: Repeat this process. Try to do these steps a second time to see if that does the trick.

Method 3: Insert the key into your car’s door

Step 1: Insert the key into the door lock. Even if you have a keyless car and do not typically use your physical key, use the side door on the driver’s side and insert the physical key into the lock.

Tip: Most, if not all, key fobs have a physical key within the fob. Look for a button that allows you to slide the physical key out of the fob.

Step 2: Turn the vehicle key to unlock the car door without releasing it. Hold the key for 30 seconds in this position. This will signal to your car’s system that you have the right key, and will enable you to bypass your car’s alarm system.

There are some cars that will recognize the key from you simply turning it back and forth in the door’s cylinder. It is best to try both methods: holding the key in the door, as well as turning the key both ways to disable the anti-theft system.

Step 3: Try starting the engine. Take the key out of the door and try starting your car’s engine. When you do this, however, make sure that the door cylinder remains in the unlocked position.


Unfortunately, it is possible to get stuck in a situation where either none of these methods work, or you are truly in a position where timeliness and care is critical. If you find yourself in this situation, or would simply prefer the help of a locksmithing professional, give your local Pop-A-Lock a call.