Why has my Astra Remote suddenly stopped working?

This is all about a problem that we are starting to see on the Vauxhall Astra Remote central locking from 2004 – 2010.

Astra remote


It’s an interesting problem because lots of owners and garages are scratching their heads, just like we were until we found out what it was causing the Astra Remote to stop working.

The symptoms are

  1. The Astra Remote buttons stop locking and unlocking the car
  2. The radio no longer turns itself off when the key is pulled out of the ignition lock.
  3. The car makes a noise, warning you that the key is in the lock, even though it isn’t.

First things first.

Have you tried a new key battery? Before you start taking the car apart, make sure you fit a high quality CR2032 Key battery. Don’t go cheap. Any unbranded battery should go into the bin, they cause so many problems.


If that doesn’t fix it, then move on.

The problem’s that the car thinks the key is still in the ignition. This causes all of the above problems and makes sense.  You wouldn’t want to lock the car if the key was still in the ignition lock, so the function is disabled.

The cause of the problem

The fault is normally inside the ignition lock of the Astra.

Astra Remote

Vauxhall Astra H ignition Lock

This is the back end of an Astra lock. The white plunger can be seen in the middle of the black circle.

The plunger moves in and out a short distance. It’s such a small amount that when you look at it, you won’t see it move. However it does, and when the key is all the way in the lock, it pokes the plunger out.

Now the lock is held in place by a lock housing and on the Astra H it’s plastic. If you look into the hole where the lock has come out of, you’ll see that there is a switch that also moves in and out a small amount. This is the switch that tells the car whether or not the key is inside the ignition.

When the key is inside the ignition, the plunger pokes out and presses against the switch. What should happen is that when the key is taken out, the spring loaded switch pushes against the plunger and detects that there is no longer a key inside the lock. It then tells the car to switch off the radio and to let the central locking function work.

However, the plunger gets stuck causes the fault.

A New Ignition is needed

We’ve found that this problem can be easily fixed if a new ignition is fitted to the car. This is fairly easy to do and any garage or Auto Locksmith will be able to do this.

Inside the new ignition, the plunger moves freely and so this allows everything to work.

Can the old ignition be fixed?

Possibly. We’ve looked at these in the past. Sometimes a small piece of dirt or grit may have jammed the plunger and it can be freed off when it’s out of the car. Or you can try some WD40 or the like to get the plunger moving again. However we’ve done this for our customers to save them money and the problem has returned, so as a rule we replace the ignition lock.

Do I need a new key?

No. Unless your key is badly worn, the replacement lock can be set up so that your old key will work the lock. This is called ‘keyed alike’.

There are two ways to get an Astra lock that is ‘keyed alike’

  1. Contact the dealer and order a new lock. To do this you’ll need to take the V5 Logbook, along with some ID. You’ll also need the ‘Car Pass’ which is the security document that comes with the car from new.
  2. The easier way is to contact a local Auto Locksmith and ask them to fit a new ignition lock built to fit your key.

This is what the Car Pass looks like or the older version looks like this


Will a new lock definitely fix the problem?

Well nothing is definite with cars, but in our experience, yes. We’ve changed 20-30 and it’s fixed the problem every time. We’ve heard of cases where the fault is with the lock housing, but haven’t seen that yet.

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