Volkswagen Won't Start | No Key Error Message

If your Volkswagen does not start but shows "NO KEY," "KEY NOT IN RANGE,"  or "KEY NOT DETECTED" error message, the problem in most cases is due to a dead key fob battery.

DIY Cost: $0
Est. Time: 5 min
Difficulty: Easy

In this guide, we show you how to start a VW that won't recognize the key. 

What Causes VW  No Key Error

VW no key

If you try to start your Volkswagen by pressing the START button but instead get an error message appears that says NO KEY or Key Not Detected, the problem most likely is one of the following:

  • The battery inside the remote is dead. Change key fob battery first. 
  • The car battery is weak. Try jump-starting the car even if it seems like it has power. 
  • Bad key. The key fob itself may be broken or has lost synchronization to your car. Try a spare key if you have one. If you don't have a spare key, here is how to order a new VW key. 
  • Immobilizer problem. The keyless or security system is faulty.

In most cases, you can still start your VW by following the instructions below. 

How to start a VW with a dead key battery

VW NO KEY NOT IN RANGE how to start

  1. Manually open the driver's door. Use the metal emergency key inside the keyfob to unlock the driver's door. Some models have a small cap on the driver's door keyhole. Remove the cap to expose the keyhole. 
  2. Press the brake pedal. 
  3. Push the START button with the tip of the key. That should allow your VW to start. If not, go to the next step. 
  4. Continue to keep the brake pedal pressed. 
  5. Hold the keyfob next to the steering column, as shown in the picture. On the steering column, right below the wiper lever, you should notice a small indentation with a key symbol and a signal icon above it.
  6. As you hold the keyfob next to the steering column, press the START button, and the engine should start. 

If the car starts, don't forget to change the battery in your VW keyfob. 

If your VW still doesn't start, the most likely problems are a dead car battery or a bad key. Try jump-starting the car.

If you have replaced the keyfob battery but still can't start the car, try the following. Connect jumper cables or jump box to add additional power to your VW. 

  1. Press unlock on the keyfob to disable the immobilizer. If the doors don't unlock, insert the key in the driver's door and unlock the door manually. 
  2. Unfold the metal key or remove it from inside the key fob. 
  3. Use the metal key to remove the small cap from the driver's door handle. 
  4. Press the unlock button on the remote control.
  5.  Within one minute, manually unlock the vehicle using the key.
  6. Get inside the car and start the car by pressing the START button with the keyfob's tip. If that doesn't work, keep the keyfob next to the steering column, then press the START button. 

These instructions work on VW Jetta, Golf, Passat, Tiguan, Routan, EOS models. If that fails, you could have a faulty key or a problem with the immobilized system or body control module. In some cases, a weak car battery can lead to the immobilizer not recognized the key. 

One VW key works, but the second key won't start the car.

The key is not being recognized by the vehicle.

Try manually starting your VW by following the instructions above. If you still can't start the engine with the second key, the key could be damaged. Each kay has a build-in transponder inside, which could be damaged. Or the key has lost synchronization with the vehicle, and the key may need to be programmed. 

The most common reason why a VW won't start but shows "No Key" and “Key Not in Range” error messages on the instrument cluster is due to a dead key battery. It is possible to start a VW even if the key fob battery is dead. 

Volkswagen Won't Start | No Key Error Message In this guide, we show you how to start a VW that won't recognize the key.