We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Immobiliser?

By J.M. Densing
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
WikiMotors is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WikiMotors, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An immobiliser is an anti-theft mechanism that prevents an automobile's engine from starting unless the correct ignition key or other device is present. This device prevents thieves from starting the car by a method known as hot wiring. Most new vehicles have an immobiliser as standard equipment. An important advantage of this system is that it doesn't require the car owner to activate it; it operates automatically. An immobiliser is considered as providing much more effective anti-theft protection than an audible alarm alone; many auto insurance companies offer lower rates for vehicles that are equipped with them.

As an anti-theft device, an immobiliser disables one of the systems needed to start a car's engine, usually the fuel supply or the ignition. This is accomplished by radio frequency identification between a transponder in the ignition key and a device called a radio frequency reader in the steering column. When the key is placed in the ignition, the transponder sends a signal with a unique identification code to the reader, which relays it to a receiver in the vehicle's computer control module. If the code is correct, the computer allows the fuel supply and ignition systems to operate and start the car. If the code is incorrect or absent, the computer disables the system, and the car will be unable to start until the correct key is placed in the ignition.

By disabling the ignition electronically through the computer, an immobiliser prevents the vehicle from being stolen in most cases. The most common way a thief starts a car's engine is by hot wiring. This involves breaking the steering column open and connecting the ignition wires by hand rather than turning a key to connect them. When the ignition systems are disabled by the car's computer, this theft method doesn't work; even with the wires connected, the car still won't start. Immobilisers are so effective at preventing theft that they are now offered standard on most new cars; they can also be installed as an aftermarket option on older vehicles.

One of the most important advantages of an immobiliser system is that the car owner does not have to remember to activate it; its operation is automatic. An immobiliser provides more effective protection against theft than an audible alarm which provide less protection when used alone. The device is considered a passive anti-theft system since it doesn't require action from a person to make it work; it also often qualifies a vehicle for a discount or lower rates on auto insurance. One disadvantage of the system is that car keys with the embedded transponder are more expensive and time consuming to replace if lost and usually requires a visit to a car dealer.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By jefo — On Aug 13, 2017

Passive means that the immobilizer is activated without any action on your part. It follows that the immobilizer activates without you having to push the lock button at all. Otherwise, you would have read that that the horn beep indicates that the immobilizer is being activated.

By anon288329 — On Aug 29, 2012

If this is passive, why does my 2004 CRV horn beep when I press the lock button twice on the fob? I read that it indicates the immobilizer has been activated.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WikiMotors, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.