"No Key Detected"

Our 2013 Ford Escape refuses to start every once in a while, for no apparent reason. When we insert the key in the ignition, it says “no key detected.” This seems only to happen when we have driven the car, and then go to start it again within a half-hour or so (such as when you’re running a quick errand). Usually, if you wait long enough it will eventually start, but a couple times it has taken more than two hours. It happens with both my key and my husband’s key. We have replaced the batteries in the fob numerous times. This doesn’t seem to have an effect. It seems like it is more likely to start if you get out of the car for a while and come back, but that may just be coincidence. The Ford dealership thought it was a problem with the car battery, but replacing the battery had no effect. They didn’t have any other ideas. Other than this issue, the car runs perfectly. I’d be so grateful for any ideas!

I’m left wondering of there’s an “initialization procedure” for the security system the running-through of which might reset everything. Did the dealer try this?

Also, I wonder if a mild washing out of the key cylinder might restore proper function. A “contact cleaner” from an electronics store might be just the ticket. I’ve used mine to correct many possibly-dirt-caused malfunctions over the years. They make the cleaner both with and without oil. I’d go for the one without.

Ah, that is an interesting idea. I will look into cleaning the key
cylinder. I don’t know if the dealer tried that, but I’ll ask. Thanks for
your thoughts!!

This is a known problem for the '13-'17 Escapes. Here is a Youtube video of how one owner fixed the issue. It is more common on the smart key-equipped Escapes. Those have steps in the manual to re-initialize the fob using the console’s emergency slot. I could not find a better forum discussion to explain how to fix it in the non-smart keys. Have you looked at the manual to see if it has a section for this? Many of the forum members didn’t realize it was addressed in the manual.

Thanks for your comment! I watched the video, but he seems to just be
replacing the battery, which we have done many times. Yes, I’ve seen the
other videos too, for the cars that have smart keys, but since our car
isn’t equipped with smart keys, we don’t have the emergency slot in our
console. I’ve unfortunately had several hours of leisure time in parking
lots to look desperately through the manual (while waiting for the car to
start) and haven’t been able to find anything. :frowning:

Did you ever find the cause and solution? My wife’s 2015 Ford Fiesta is having this same issue. Like you - I can’t find anything on it!

We have a new battery and new keys. It’s currently on its second trip to the dealership. I don’t have confidence that they know what is wrong. Where you able to fix this?

Makes you wonder where and how the vehicle “picks up or reads” the FOB… does the vehicle know when you get near it or only inside of it? I would start suspecting the pickup device and its location at this point in time… But that’s just my first thought as a problem solving type o guy…

If you want to try a funny little trick for giggles… do your normal routine to get the unit to fail… Then after that put the FOB under your chin as you approach the vehicle and see if the problem goes away. If it does…its a reception problem. No kidding…

The problem here isn’t FOB related. These are older physical keys where the FOB part only functions to lock, unlock, pop trunk and panic. You can take the battery out of that, start the car and drive the car around still.

The problem is - well sometimes the car won’t start. And that’s either a 90 second wait or a 12 hour delay in usage.

I’m not certain, but I think a 13’ Model is a bit more sophisticated than that. My 03’ GTi fob also is for the doors but there is also an RF chip inside that FOB that needs no battery power. The vehicle reads that RF chip and is part of the security system. The key may indeed be just a key, the FOB may only operate the door locks, but I have a strong feeling there is an RF chip somewhere in the equation or a “chip” in the key (like my 04’ Ford Explorer has) for that last layer of security.

These are all just educated guesses, I did not look into the security system of your make and model year vehicle. But if my 04’ Explorer has a normal lock unlock FOB AND an RF chip in the head of the key that you cannot see or even know is there, your 13’ Ford Escape will surely have something similar.

You may want to look into that on the net and see exactly what type of system you have because something is clearly missing from your equation here and you may chase your tail suspecting engine parts and all sorts of other stuff when its actually the security system doing its job or having a problem reading the chip that is most likely in your key or FOB somewhere. You need to look this info up.

Curious if you are locking your doors. If so try not locking the doors and see if you have the problem.

Thank you.

On the first trip to the ford dealer, that’s exactly what the mechanic said. He even said one of the two keys had an intermittent fault. So one new key, five days and $350 later I drove the car off the Ford lot.

Two days later it was back with the same problem - Key Not Detected. And I was using the brand new key they made. The car has been with the Ford Dealer for 12 days this time around. I called yesterday - still no idea what is wrong.

My guess is that whatever part in the car that reads the key has an intermittent fault. This used to be about a once a month problem. Now it happens roughly every three days. The downtime for how long it won’t start ranges between 90 seconds to 12 hours. Imagine stopping for gas and having no idea if you will need a ride home or if you can drive off with your full tank.

No engine codes, no computer codes, no any codes. All the electrical turns on. You can play with the locks, windows, radio, blinkers, wipers, etc - you just can’t start the car.

I joined the forum just to answer to this after experiencing the same issue in my Ford focus 2013. Do you have any kind of wireless charger/cellphone/RF key chain near to the key when trying to start it? I never had this problem until today, one day after I bought a wireless charger that goes into the air vent, removed the charger and everything worked as normal. Hope that helps!


Sorry. I “piggy-backed” on this thread hoping the original poster would reappear to let us know what they ended up doing with their ford escape. I started my own thread after that.

To answer your question - no chargers or anything at all plugged into the USB or charging ports. There is a garage door opener under the sun visor. I haven’t tried removing that from the car and driving it for awhile. It’s at the dealership now.

Jeezoo that is a long long time. In my truck, it’s not very hard to figure out how it reads the key… On the 04’ Exploder you simply remove the plastic housing from around your steering column and the RF chip reader is right there closest to the ignition switch. Very visible and easy to get to, but who knows what they did in your model and year… I would like to think its exactly the same because it works and is very simple… but that doesn’t mean a damn thing in the car world. They seem to love to change things like this for the sake of change or job security for someone in the design department. I have no idea…

I’d be interested to hear what took them so long.

I read all of these responses but I ave looked all over and not seen anyone talk about my no key detected issue. I have a 2014 fusion se. I changed the battery, spark plugs, rear shocks, and oil about 3 weeks ago. My car has a fob with a key still not a push button. At that time it started doing this thing were when I turned the key it didnt start but it would on the second turn or sometimes first then 3rd turn it was random. A week ago no start it popped up no key detected. I unhooked the battery and that did not solve the issue. It throws the message up everytime. I have only one key. the fob battery is new too and works just fine. Everything in the car comes on but it doesnt start. Here is the kicker I have figured out and it makes no sense to me. When I turn the key and press the unlock button on the fob as I am turning it starts right up. Does anyone understand this or ran into this issue?

I have come across this same issue in a 2013 Ford Escape. Put the key in and leave it in the start position. I found if you mess around with the positive battery cable it will allow it to start. My best guess is that there is a break internally in the cable and manipulating this allows a connection. While it’s running and you manipulate the cable it will die. Try it and see it this works for you.

So why not have the cable replaced ?

Getting one Monday from the dealership

I have just had this problem with my Ford Fiesta 2014 ie no key detected and car won’t start. Breakdown guy thought it was the starter motor. Someone else tried disconnecting the battery and reconnecting, Lo and behold it started. However 2 hours later after a couple of journeys the message popped up again. I touched the battery and removed the plastic cover then it worked. Then for 3 weeks it ran ok. Tonight in howling winds and rain the message came back again. Not sure how to rectify it. Intermittent faults like this are so hard to solve.

Ask your shop to clean the battery posts and connectors and make sure they are properly tightened. This problem has a lot of possible culprits — alarm system, faulty wiring harness, faulty computer, alternator, battery, ignition switch, key fob, key battery, etc — but that’s where I’d start.