It’s the last thing you need. With a full day ahead of you and money to earn, your Ford Transit Custom won’t start. Although there are hundreds of possibilities that require expert diagnostic help, we do know about one simple reason that is easy to put right, by yourself. No skills are needed, but read on before you start spending money on anything.

As you probably know, inside the key is a transponder chip. It acts like a finger print and is unique to your van.

When you turn the ignition lock, the chip is recognised and the van strikes up, without you even thinking about it.

However, we’re starting to see a problem where the key is no longer recognised by the van and so it won’t allow the engine to start.

What are the symptoms of a Ford Transit Custom immobiliser problem?

Does it crank?

For a start, the van won’t crank. It’s as if the starter motor has given up. When you turn the key there’s nothing, silence. The engine won’t even turn over, just nothing.

This is different to a flat battery on the van because all the dashboard lights will come on, but that’s it. Whereas with a flat battery, the dashboard will stay in darkness! So if your van won’t crank over, it may be the immobiliser.

Are you getting the immobiliser message?

Ford Transit Custom won't start

When the van doesn’t see the correct key, or the key hasn’t been programmed, this message is displayed.  Once you get this message, your Ford Transit Custom won’t start, whatever you do.

There are several things that cause this message to be shown.

  1. An un-programmed key
  2. A faulty key
  3. A wiring or computer fault
  4. A faulty immobiliser pick-up.

We’re going to look at the last the last issue, the faulty immobiliser pick-up.

What is an immobiliser pick-up?

It comes under many names. Sometimes called the coil, key reader, transponder and many more., we have chosen immobiliser pick-up so it’s clear what the key is up to.

The pick-up is shaped like a ring and fits around the ignition lock

This photo shows a faulty pick-up that we took apart to take a look at. There wasn’t any obvious damage for us to have a go at fixing. The good thing is that they are very cheap to buy, around £30 at the last count. So now, if we come across a Ford Transit Custom won’t start issue, and see the faults we describe in the article, we try one of these. This is after we’ve checked the keys of course.

We’ve seen half a dozen vans where we’ve changed the pick-up and the van has started immediately.

Does it need to be programmed?

No. Think of it like a TV aerial. It simply unplugs and a new one can be plugged in. Get one from the Ford dealer, not a second-hand one from the scrapyard!

Here’s our YouTube video that explains more about the problem and how to fit a new one.

I tried it and it still won’t start…….

Have you had the van keys checked out? Take the keys to a good Auto Locksmith or key cutting shop and they should be able to but them into a specialist machine that reads the key. Sometimes on the remote flip key, the chip fails and the van can’t see the key anymore. This will cause the same problems.

I think the van has forgotten the keys….

We’ve never see this on the new Ford vans. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but I very much doubt it. If you’re still getting the same message, find a good local Ford specialist because there are other more serious problems that bring this message up.

That’s it. I hope this has helped. Any questions please leave them in the comments below.



27 replies
  1. Dave
    Dave says:

    Have problem you describe with main key. Engine does not turn over whilst all lights come oup on dash and it unlocks the door and blinkers flash. When I use the spare key this will start the engine as normal. Would be grateful for any advice

    • Steve Bulleyment
      Steve Bulleyment says:

      Hi Dave
      It sounds like the chip has failed in the remote key. These can’t be fixed, you probably just need a new remote key cut and coded.

  2. Simon
    Simon says:

    Transit custom 64 plate change battery a week ago but now seems the immobiliser is not letting the van start any ideas please

  3. Ryan Adger
    Ryan Adger says:

    Hi, started my van this morning no problem at all. Went to my first job where I parked for an hour, then tried to start the van again and I briefly saw an immobiliser message but can recall exact wording and after that ‘normal mode’ displayed on screen but engine wouldn’t start, just a faint clicking sound. Any ideas as to whether this is my key fob? After a lot of trying to start the engine did start in the end with a jump start but I don’t feel the battery is the main issue. Any feedback greatly appreciated.

    • Steve Bulleyment
      Steve Bulleyment says:

      Hi, it could be a few things. The immobilser message only occurs when there is a problem with it, and this could be the key, or the ring around the ignition, or something more serious. That it started with jump start is a bit odd, maybe it’s just your van battery. Get it checked and see how you go. Sorry I can’t be more specific

  4. Lee
    Lee says:

    Hello. I have a friend with a 2020 transit custom which is experiencing an intermittent cranking/starting issue which has been looked at under warranty by his Ford Dealership, but they cant find a problem with it. I have asked my friend to try using the 2nd key for a few days to see if that helps but what he has described is that it will start fine first thing in the morning, but randomly throughout the day he goes to start it, it will crank for 2 seconds and then stop whilst the key is still in the crank/III position. Key off and then re-cranks and fires up ok? No warnings or lights on the dash and it does this every 3 or 4 start cycles? Any ideas with this

  5. Graham Catt
    Graham Catt says:


    Where can I get one of these rings? I’m not sure what to look for! Got a 2015 custom and by the look of your video it’s the imobaliser ring but can find one .


    • Steve Bulleyment
      Steve Bulleyment says:

      Hi Graham, buy it from the Ford dealer and order by reg, as there are several different types. They are only about £50

  6. Anis
    Anis says:

    A car was running well, but in the morning a car started and the engine did not start. I used the starter cables until the engine started. But sometimes the car takes time to turn and most of the time it turns from the first time

  7. Rachel Carter
    Rachel Carter says:

    We have a 2011 Ford Transit Van, and are having on and off issues starting the van. The transponder has been changed, and the van was ok for a few weeks. However, the issue has now started again. Sometimes the vehicle starts, then it won’t. Lights etc come on the dash, and we can open the doors using the key fob. However, when the issue arises we then have to attempt to start the van with the spare key, and keep swapping the keys around until the van finally starts. The van has been in and out of the garage, has been looked at several times by an auto electrician, but the fault continues and we have not been able to resolve the problem. Any ideas?

  8. Daniel Richardson
    Daniel Richardson says:

    Changed the remote battery, and now the van wont start, 2007 transit.
    Doors lock/unlock but when I go to turn it on ..nothing dash lights up but no crank over.

    • Steve Bulleyment
      Steve Bulleyment says:

      Hi Daniel, you need a new key. Sometimes when the key battery is changed, unsoldering and re-soldering causes a problem with the chip

  9. Laura
    Laura says:

    64 reg transit custom wouldn’t start yesterday made a clicking noise all lights on but nothing else changed the starter still the same problem ?

  10. Aaron
    Aaron says:

    I have a 63 plate transit custom Limited.
    I have a really intermittent fault with the van starting. Will be fine for days then won’t start. Leave it few hours come back to it and will start fine. Comes up with immobiliser fault. But then once it came up with brake service required. Also has thrown ABS and traction control warnings whilst driving and lost speedo too.
    Any ideas or help please

  11. alan
    alan says:

    -hi can some one help me i have ford transt custom 2.2 i rplace engine after few hour van run i try to wash engine i wash engine van cut out never start agin i order use ecu i pay 250 i cloen my self i put in same crank not start on injctor not voltge just ground thanks

  12. Ian Flattley
    Ian Flattley says:

    I have a 2015 custom which won’t start, has the same symptoms as described in this thread apart from it doesn’t show up immobilizer fault, there are other error messages on the dash though. Would it be worth changed the ring to rule this out?


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