What is the Lighted Padlock Icon on My Dashboard and Why Won’t My Car Start?

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A couple of days ago my 2017 Subaru Forester wouldn’t start. What’s more, every time I tried to start it, it flashed a dashboard light that looked just like a little padlock. That darned padlock dashboard icon flashed so fast that at first I could barely tell what it was, but it had to be something to do with why my Subaru wouldn’t start, right? Here’s a video of that flashing padlock symbol, which turns out to mean “anti-theft security system is in force” (how Robocop).

Here’s a still photo of the padlock security light – turns out it’s a padlock through..a windshield? A rear window? Somehow having a hole through which a padlock can fit in your glass doesn’t seem all that secure to me, but what do I know?

Flashing Padlock Icon on Dashboard
flashing padlock light subaru forester wont start

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Anyways, here’s the thing: If your car has an anti-theft system, that little light always comes on when you start the car, and then turns right off again when the car starts. In fact, it always comes on with all the other dashboard lights that come on at the same time which is why nobody ever notices it.

Until the car doesn’t start and the dash lights are on and you are looking at them wondering why your car won’t start. THEN you notice it.

So, it turns out that flashing padlock icon has nothing to do with why your car won’t start.

Here’s what else I learned. First, my Subaru Forester (turbo, thank you very much) is barely two years old, so the fact that it wouldn’t start (wouldn’t even try to turn over – it’s dead, Jim) – was concerning, to say the least. And, oh yeah, the battery of course was relatively new as well. And the odds of the battery being the issue and it not even trying to turn over, not once, seemed unlikely.

After much searching online (probably not unlike the searching that you did that landed you here) we discovered that, of all things, it was a blown starter fuse!

In case you are here because your car won’t start and you just happen to have a Subaru, we found this page here on how to change a Subaru fuse and where they are incredibly helpful. In fact, it was all that we needed to check all of the fuses, determine which one was blown, and change it (and Subaru happily includes replacement fuses and a fuse puller in the fuse box under the hood – although the starter fuse that needed changing was in the interior fuse panel by the steering wheel).

If the search that led you here isn’t an issue with a Subaru, you can find all you need by searching on the Internet for “how to change fuse {make and model of your car}”.

No ads here, just all me; I try to offer helpful information as I find or figure it out. But it does cost me money out of my pocket to keep the site running (16 years and counting!), so if you find something I've written helpful, please consider letting me know via CashApp, Venmo, or Paypal. Receipts will come from ISIPP.

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Searches that led to this article: subaru what does the lock symbol mean?,  

2 thoughts on “What is the Lighted Padlock Icon on My Dashboard and Why Won’t My Car Start?

  1. 1. How did you determine the fuse was bad?
    2. Will the padlock light flashing run down my battery? (I’ve had the car over a year and never noticed it before.)

  2. Hi Celeste! We determined that the fuse was bad by searching online for the symptoms and finding a post (much like this one :~) ) that said it could be the fuse. The padlock light flashing should not run down your battery.

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