Won't Start No Key Error Message Volkswagen

Volkswagen Key Not Detected Fix

A warning message “VW Key Not Detected” can appear on the dashboard of a Volkswagen vehicle when there is an issue with the keyless entry system. The possible causes for this message to appear to include a low battery in the key fob, a dirty or damaged key fob, a faulty keyless entry system, wiring issues, and a faulty control module. It is recommended to have the vehicle inspected by a certified Volkswagen technician to diagnose and repair the issue and ensure the correct function of the keyless entry system.

If your Volkswagen does not start but shows a “NO KEY,” “KEY NOT IN RANGE,”  “Key not detected, hold key on designated surface,” or “KEY NOT DETECTED” error message is due to a dead key fob battery. This video shows you how to start a VW that won’t recognize the key.

VW key not detected hold key on the designated surface

“VW Key Not Detected, Hold Key on Designated Surface” is a message that appears on the dashboard of a Volkswagen vehicle when the car’s keyless entry system does not properly detect the key fob. This message is typically displayed when the key fob is not near the car or when the key fob’s battery is low. To fix this issue, the key fob should be held close to the designated surface of the vehicle, such as the door handle, and the battery should be checked and replaced if necessary.

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 car battery is weak. Try jump-starting the car even if it seems like it has power.
  • Bad key. The key fob may be broken or have 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.
  • Low battery in the key fob: If the battery in the key fob is low or dead, the vehicle may not be able to detect the key, and a warning message will appear.
  • Dirty or damaged key fob: If the key fob is dirty or damaged, the vehicle may not be able to detect the key properly.
  • Faulty keyless entry system: If the keyless entry system is malfunctioning, it may not be able to detect the key fob properly.
  • Wiring issues: Damaged or corroded wiring in the keyless entry system can prevent the system from properly communicating with the key fob
  • Faulty control module: The control module that manages the keyless entry system may be malfunctioning, it may not be able to detect the key fob properly.

It’s important to have the vehicle inspected by a certified Volkswagen technician to diagnose and repair the issue, and to ensure the correct function of the keyless entry system.

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 can’t start the car, try the following. Connect jumper cables or jump boxes 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. 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. A weak car battery can sometimes lead to the immobilizer not recognizing the key.

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

The key is not 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 built-in transponder inside, which could be damaged. Or the key has lost synchronization with the vehicle and may need to be programmed.

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

We hope you find the Won’t Start | No Key Error Message Volkswagen guide helpful. Check these troubleshooting and repair guides for more help on your Volkswagen.


  • Rushit Hila • ASE Certified

    Rushit Hila, an ASE-certified engineer (G1 Automotive Maintenance and Repair), brings over two decades of hands-on experience in the automotive world to his writing. With a strong educational background, including a Master of Science in Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, he has honed his skills and expertise through years of practical work. As a respected authority in the field, Mr. Hila is dedicated to offering insightful and valuable content that resonates with both vehicle owners and mechanics.

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One Comment

  1. I have change my VW Atlsas steering lock system but how to programme is my problem.