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.



6 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


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