Wondering why your Volkswagen won’t start, even after you’ve replaced its battery?
The answer is simple: The immobilizer needs to be reset.
What is an Immobilizer?
The immobilizer is an electronic security device installed in your Volkswagen that allows the car to start up only when the correct key is inserted in the ignition or when it recognizes the synced keyless entry remote.
Changing your car battery may cause your immobilizer to lose synchronization with the car. When you disconnect your old battery from the car, you wipe out your car’s settings unless you keep the voltage in the car going.
You want to keep a back current flowing to your car to retain its computer settings.
The most logical solution would be to bring it to your nearest Volkswagen dealer so they can use the GeKo (geheimnis und komponentenschutz, which is German for “security and component protection”) system to resynchronize the immobilizer with the car.
However, it’s not the only way to restore immobilizer functionality. There’s a much easier one, and it’s to reset it.
How to Reset the Immobilizer
First, you want to find out if the immobilizer is the problem. To do this, turn on the battery in your Volkswagen and see if the immobilizer warning light is flashing on your dash, most likely in your speedometer. It should look like an outline of a car with a key inside it.
If it’s flashing, it means the immobilizer’s disconnected from the system. In this case, you need to perform a cold reboot, which can be done in the following steps:
- Disconnect both battery cables
- Tap both cables together
- Leave the cables disconnected for fifteen minutes
- Reconnect the cables to the battery
If this doesn’t yield results, then you can try this alternative method to get your key to reprogram itself:
- Ensure that the battery is being charged with a charger
- Leave the key in the ignition with the battery on and the engine off for an hour
If nothing works, then bring your car to the nearest Volkswagen dealership and have them resynchronize the immobilizer with your car.
Other Possible Causes
In the unlikely event that the immobilizer isn’t the culprit, you have a couple of other causes to rule out:
A Bad Key
This is pretty easy to rule out. Try to start the car with any extra keys you may have for it. If the car starts right up with an alternative key, then you know you’ve got a bad key in your hands.
A Drained Battery
Hey, anything can happen. There’s a (miniscule) chance your replacement battery is toast. You can take it to an auto parts store and have them test it. Keep in mind that this problem is likely only if your car isn’t turning over at all.
We hope this guide has helped you! If you’re encountering any other common VW problems, check out our other troubleshooting guides: