Chevy Cruze Service Keyless Start System (6 Reasons + Fixes)

Don’t you just hate it when you see the “Service Keyless Start System” message light up on the dashboard of your Chevy Cruze?

In this response post, I will cover topics like what the service keyless start system means, its basic functionality, what to do to reset it (our trusted friend), the causes of its failure, and what can be done to rectify those faults.

Join me as I go down this lane.

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Cruze’s Keyless Start Systems And How To Start/Stop With It

The Chevy Cruze has two options for a keyless start. One requires that you access your car and push the ENGINE START/STOP button to crank up the car. 

The other method uses the key fob or a mobile application to remotely start the car. It also has other convenient features that allow you to set the car’s environment before stepping into the car.

If you want to use the ENGINE START/STOP to start the car, then the RKE transmitter must be in the vehicle, the transmission should be in the Parking (P) position, and the brake pedal must be pressed. 

Press the button to start the car. Release it when the car starts to crank. To stop the car, set the car in Parking and press the ENGINE START/STOP button. 

The Remote Keyless Entry (RKE) can also be used to start the car. It is effective from about 60 m or 197 feet. 

To start the car remotely, press the lock button on the fob, then press and hold the remote start button (the one with this circle shape – ⟳) for 4 seconds. 

The turn signal will flash, and the engine will start. To turn the engine off, press and hold the remote start button for 3 seconds.

With this procedure, if the car is not driven away within 15 minutes, the engine will automatically shut off.

Common Reasons for the Service Keyless Start System

The keyless start is a feature that provides the convenience of remote starting and setting the environment in the car before you step in, but it is also a security feature. 

However, this feature has been known to fail frequently in Chevy Cruze with model years 2012 and 2017, particularly notorious for this issue with two Service Bulletin issued by NHTSA for two recurring issues.

When this system fails, it would not be possible to engage the ENGINE START/STOP button nor use the key fob for remote start. Below we list the common reasons for its failure and how to go about dealing with them.

Faulty Key Fob Battery

An operational fob is a critical piece of the Keyless Start System, whether the ENGINE START/STOP button or the remote start is to be used. 

It is because the fob contains a key that is encoded with an RFID signal that it transmits and is picked by the receiver within the car and verified for authenticity.

The fob battery is the first thing to check for when the keyless start does not work. A weak or empty battery means no communication between the transmitter and receiver. Most fob batteries last 3-4 years, and replacements are widely available. 

Your Chevy Cruze uses a 3 V button cell battery – usually, it is CR2032.

Once you have taken out the battery, you can see the number on the battery. 

How to Replace the Key Fob Battery?

You will need a flathead screwdriver or any prying tool to replace it yourself.

Pry Kit

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  1. Release the ignition key using the button located on the fob
  2. Insert the edge of the pry tool into the small slit at the bottom edge from behind the battery cover, and pry it open. To remove it safely, you may need to repeat this at the other cover ends.
  3. Using your pry tool, gently remove the battery from the fob, taking care not to damage any electrical circuits and wires.
  4. The Chevy Cruze key fob uses a CR2032 3V battery. Take the new battery and gently place it into the socket, with the side displaying the ‘+’ sign facing towards you.
  5. Once the battery is in place, reinsert the back cover on the fob, ensuring it is properly secure.

Weak Car Battery

So you are satisfied the fob battery is not an issue, then as a next step, check the car battery. If the car battery is weak or done for, then pretty much nothing else will work. 

For more detailed information on what to do in case of a weak battery, look at my recent response post on Service Battery Charging System.

If you see a lot of debris (white/blue) on the battery terminals, you can use a battery terminal cleaner like the one below.

Battery Cleaner

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That lead sulfate/anhydrous copper can further lower the life span of your battery. 

To test the battery, how much life it has left and how much Voltage you are getting, you can use this multimeter tool. 


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Issue with the Rear Compartment Wireless Antenna

All systems that communicate via a wireless receiver/transmitter require an antenna at the receiver and transmitter end. The Chevy Cruze has a receiver antenna in the rear compartment that is used with the keyless start system. 

The antenna must be correctly installed for the fob to communicate with the car. With incorrect installation, the keyless start would not work.

Check for loose wire harnesses or loose cables inside the harness. Ensure that this antenna is not blocked by large metallic objects etc., because metallic materials in the vicinity can interfere with the signals. 

Finally, the antenna may be faulty, in which case, refer to a technician to determine if the antenna is faulty or not.

Issue With The Brake Pedal

The brake pedal needs to be pressed before you can use the engine start button to start the car.

If the brake pedal has issues with its hydraulics, it will not press down, and the car will not start.

You may be able to start the vehicle by other means but do not drive the car until this issue is fixed.

Bad Starter

If the car battery is ok and pushing the start button will get no response from the car, the button could be faulty, or if the car would not start via remote or the ignition key, the starter could be faulty.

Symptoms of a faulty starter include

  • Clicking noise when trying to start the car.
  • Smoke from the starter
  • The engine engages but would not start
  • The starter would not disengage after the car starts

Refer to a qualified technician for further diagnosis.

Keyless Control Module

The keyless control module is located in the lower right dash. It would require removing the lower trim panel underneath the right side of the dash.

Retrieve it to check for any loose wire harnesses or broken wires. 

If all is good and then take your Cruze to a certified dealership. They will run scans using a bi-directional scanner.

It is a scanner that not only determines the fault code but can also command functions and, if required, reprogram the control module. 

This would be a costly DIY, since the OBD tool, which can also program the ECU comes at a high cost. If you already have such an OBD tool, you would be able to DIY.


The keyless entry and engine start and stop features are a great convenience if everything is working perfectly, but when it fails, several factors can contribute to its failure. 

In this post, we have looked at common issues that can trigger the Service Keyless Start message to show up on the Driver Information Center (DIC).