What To Do If Your Car’s Security Indicator Light Is On

A lit security light indicates a problem in the car’s anti-theft immobilizer system. Try a new key or go to a mechanic to get it fixed.
Written by R.E. Fulton
Edited by Pat Roache
Your car’s security indicator light means there may be a problem with the anti-theft system, especially if you’re not able to turn the car on. First, try turning your car on with a backup key to reset the system.
  • In some cars, the security indicator light blinks to show that your anti-theft system is active, but a steady security light could mean problems with your key fob or car battery.
  • The security light always includes a picture of a car and a key and usually lights up red or gold.
  • If a backup key doesn’t reset your car’s anti-theft system, head to a mechanic or your car’s dealership to reprogram your car keys.

Security indicator dashboard light: What it means

The security light on your dashboard—also known as the anti-theft light—indicates the status of your car’s anti-theft system. 
  • Flashing security indicator light: In some cars, the security indicator light flashes while the ignition switch is in OFF, LOCK, or ACC to show that the immobilizer and car alarm systems are active. 
  • Steady security indicator light: If the security light turns on and stays on when the engine is running, there’s a fault in the anti-theft system. 
If you
can’t start the car’s engine
with the security indicator light on, then there’s definitely a problem with your car’s anti-theft system. Here are a few possible causes: 
The bottom line: A steadily illuminated security light means that your car doesn’t trust the key you’re using to start the car. While the immobilizer security system could have been triggered by an
attempted theft
, it’s usually a result of a battery problem.  

What the security indicator dashboard light looks like

Like most
dashboard warning lights
, the security light can look different from car to car, but it always consists of two components—a car and a key or lock. 
Look for one of these three symbols illuminated in gold or red light: 
  • An outline of a car with a key in place of the back wheel
  • A car head-on linked with a padlock
  • A car with a key in the center
Keep in mind: Just like your
check engine light
and other warning lights, the security light will illuminate briefly when you turn your car on. That’s called a bulb check—it helps you to identify symbols and catch burnt-out lights on your instrument cluster before driving. 

How to turn off your dashboard security light

If your security light is on and you can’t turn the car on: Start by trying another key if you have one. In most cases, the security light means that the car no longer recognizes the key you’re using, so you may be able to reset the system by using a different key.
You have a few options if you still get a no-start with the second key and the light is still on:
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The light on your dashboard with a car and a lock is the security indicator light. It generally indicates an issue with the car’s anti-theft immobilizer system.
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