My Volvo S40 (06) would not start when I turned the ignition key. I got a message that was somewhat like "Key Error, please try again". I tried with both my keys so it wasn't the key itself. I think I could hear some relay clicking in the on position. I had the same error about a week earlier but then it worked after a few tries and I didn't think more of it, but this time it would not work.

I called the Volvo assistance and the guy they sent put the key into the ignition, turned it fully on and hit it relatively hard about ten times with the handle of a screwdriver, then he turned it to the off position and repeated the procedure.

The car then started. He said that he had fixed this problem on a few Volvos and they seemed to continue working after this, but he could not guarantee anything.

I am not a mechanic (obviously) so I wonder if someone knows what this error could be. Is it just oxidized connectors or is it a symptom of some bigger problem? What can I do about it?

  • 2
    I had the same problem with my C70 (2006) "key error try later".I tapped the key a few times with a screwdriver handle. The car started first time.
    – user3108
    Commented May 3, 2013 at 13:40
  • was the mechanic by any chance "JEREMY CLARKSON" ???
    – Shobin P
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 10:49
  • Are you saying he hit the car key with the screwdriver when the key was already inserted into the ignition?
    – jxramos
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 6:25

12 Answers 12


I recently had a similar problem where I got intermittent "Immobilizer" messages.

According to my mechanic (20+ years of Volvo experience) the connector between the antenna ring and the wiring harness sometimes causes problems - taking it off, spraying it with contact cleaner, and re-seating it fixes these. It could be that the vibrations from hitting the key were enough to overcome the resistance and allow the key to be recognized & the car started.

It's a relatively simple job to get to and clean the connector, which might be good preventative maintenance.

Other possibilities: You could have a bad relay. There's a fusebox under the hood, and one of the relays (R13) is for the starter. You should be able to remove the relay, and jumper the connection to determine whether or not the relay is the problem. You can get the wiring diagram for the car here.

Finally, you could have an intermittent connection to the starter, or a bad starter.


If you had given that description without the screwdriver part, it would sound to me like your car is one of those that has a chip in the key where not just any key matching the physical cut will work, it has to be in combination with the car reading the chip. The goal being more security to keep someone from getting a hold of your key and making a copy of it or trying to circumvent the physical portion of the ignition.

These were the precursor to the keyless ignitions that are found on more and more cars these days where you don't even have to put the key in, just have it in your pocket.

Perhaps the transmitter/receiver is in the steering column as the key would be in the ignition when it is trying to read it and hitting the key in the ignition caused enough vibration to jossle the transmitter/receiver. Volvo may have had a manufacturing issue on that model of a weak soldering joint or similar causing an intermittent issue to develop over time.


I don't know why he would beat on your car, as the problem will likely just return. The problem likely lies in one of these places: The tag in the key itself (RFID) read by the computers, the ring that provides the field required to read the tag, or the computer that recognizes the tag. Beating it fixes nothing.


Had a similar problem with my 2006 1.8 petrol s40. Immobilizer stuck on, "immobilizer, see manual" error message. I checked all fuses, wiring etc, lock unlock 5 times myth and disconnected my battery for half an hour!

I was on the verge of calling an auto electrician out when I stumbled upon a post that advised me to turn the key all the way to the firing up position and hold it there, then tap the key with the end of a screwdriver, on the third tap my car started. The problem is a loose connection in the starter switch.

  • Do you have a link to that post any more?
    – Seminecis
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 10:05

I just experienced the same deal. However, the fix didn't entail any sort of weird mechanical voodoo. I just changed the battery on the key fob.

The symptoms were the following: (1) was able to control door locks remotely, (2) the key hole would emit weird clicking sounds, (3) the status on the console read "Key Error". I called my trusted Volvo mechanic and his first suggestion was to just change the battery first. Worked like a charm!

For the 2005 S40, you'll need a CR2032 with the positive end down. All the best to y'all.


Had my s40. 07 2.0d for few months all of a sudden it came up key falure try again and then it came up immobiliser try again put it into volvo and they said the ecu lost memory so had to be updated (common fault ) apparently so got car back seemed fine for about a week then happend again so they told me i had to replace the key fob battery and my engine battery as if these run flat it looses ecu memory so replace them and anouther update from volvo and now car seems fine touch wood hope this helps


Omg..a friend thought my car not starting sounded like a security issue with my key fob and recommended that I google my problem. I have a 2006 Volvo S40 and I found others had this same exact problem. I gave the screwdriver method a try and it worked! Crazy but so glad I found this exchange, thank you!


Yes i had a look at a s40 2005 model today, The customer was left with no ignition and no crank but wipers interior light, main lights all worked,

After a lot of tracing i found that the ignition switch to be faulty no main ignition circuit out put, when i used my back probe the car started perfect,all circuits worked,,

This may help i would definitly go to ignition switch first,,


I had the same problem this morning with my 2007 s40 2.0D. The car has 125,000 miles on the clock and up until now has been very reliable.

I went on a short journey this morning parked the car as normal and locked it with the key fob. On my return the car unlocked with the key fob, but when I tried to start the engine the radio & dash board operated as usual however when I turned the key to position 3 the engine would not turn over.

When the key was turned there was no sign that anything was happening, no clicks from the starter motor or audible noise from the fuel pump etc.

I had to leave the car there and went home to check the web to see it this had happened to anybody else, and I stumbled on this site, I decided to try this remedy as I had nothing to lose, and to my surprise it worked.

I held the key in position 3, then hit the end of the key firmly with a screwdriver handle, and the car started.

Try it, it worked for me!!


I had same key error message on my 56 plate s40, so opened the key flap with the key itself and sprayed inside the hole with wd40! Few months ago now and no further problems. Fingers crossed.


Had the same problem with my 2.0D V50 137000 miles on the clock never had a problem with the immobiliser before. Was waiting to pick daughter up from work engine running okay, turned engine off for a few minutes whilst waiting for her. Everything was normal lights, bells and whistles but engine would not even turn over, no matter what I tried nothing. Got out of car and functioned the door lock to see if it would start, nothing!! Three hour wait to be recovered home, when I put the car in the drive I tried it again and got a one off message never had again "Immobiliser check manual" message.

Trawled the Internet for answers, tried the function lock and unlock the door five times nothing. Disconnected the battery overnight still nothing. Checked the relay (R13) and starter relay wires all fine.

At this point was thinking I'm looking at replacing the antenna ring and seeing pound note signs rolling over!!

Checked the passenger fuse box connections all fine and came across this one of "tapping the key" whilst key in position three.

So put key in ignition, turned key to position three and tapped it two or three times with back of screwdriver handle and the car burst into life.

Magical screwdriver now kept in glove box should the need arise.👍👍


Lock and unlock the door 5 times. See this post: http://www.harikari.com/technology/volvo-xc70-immobilizer-see-manual.html

  • Thanks, I'm new to this. I had my car towed to the dealership because they wouldn't give me this information over the phone. My son had just been born and, after finding and trying an old set of keys I'd had replaced, I had to arrange for a friend to drive my wife and newborn home from the hospital while I went to the dealership. When I got there in the tow truck, the mechanic locked and unlocked the door five times with the remote and was able to start the car immediately.
    – TonyJ
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 5:47
  • Sorry, meant to add that trying to open the car with a lost remote enables the immobilizer security feature. If you have a valid remote, you can reset the immobilizer with it.
    – TonyJ
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 5:55

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