Look at the screen on the top of the camera to see if the flash is turned on. There is a little button like a electricty bolt hold it down and rotate the little wheel on the top right on the backside of the camera.
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In auto mode, the flash works only if it is necessary. You are saying that the flsah doesn't work in auto mode, and I assume that in other modes it's working properly. That means there is nothing wrong with the flash. So don't worry about the flash, it will fire in necessary, in full auto mode.
This is normally a problem with the flash. Try resetting all the options to default through the menu... I think Sony calls it 'initialize' but I don't have a W35 on hand to walk through the steps sorry.
Hopefully this will work. If not, you will have to replace the flash, but you may still have to clear the error message after replacing the flash and that takes specialized equipment.
It sounds like the strobe is not making good contact with the connection on the camera. Check to see if the pins on the camera aren't covered with crap and the pins on the bottom of the flash aren't bent or broken.