keyless ignition of the car

You park your car in the garage, unbuckle the seat belt, and get out. You unload the car. Then, close the garage door and go into the house. All while the engine is still running. The carbon monoxide builds up, eventually seeping into the home. 

Unfortunately, this scenario has played out in real life and some have lost their life because of it. Since 2006, when keyless-ignition vehicles were first available on the market, more than 36 people have been killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, while others have been left with brain damage, caused by this type of mistake. This is just a fraction of the average 430 people who die and 50,000 who are affected every year from accidental CO poisoning, according to the CDC.   

Be Careful When Using Push-Button Ignitions 

Since 2018, keyless ignitions have been standard in more than half of the 17 million new vehicles sold annually in the United States are convenient and easy, but does this new technology come with deadly consequences? The answer is, ‘yes.’ 

The advantages of push-start cars include it being more secure because it connects wirelessly with the car’s computer than traditional keyed door locks, where the number of combinations is physically limited. It also alleviates the need to dig through your pockets or search through your purse to find the car keys. Instead, the car has a digital proximity device that is paired with the access credentials saved in the key fob. When you have the key within a certain distance of the car, you only need to open the door and push the ‘start’ button to start the engine.  

But there’s a problem with this popular feature that comes standards on some car models and is optional for most. Some drivers are saying that they forget to push the button a second time to turn the car off.  

“One night, I was in a rush; I stepped out of the vehicle. I thought it was off. Then, the next morning, I found that the car was still running.” – Jorge Gonzalez 

Gonzalez was lucky; he parked on the street, so it only cost him a tank of a gas. For others, however, the mistake has cost them their lives. 

Drivers who are in the habit of turning and removing a key from the ignition to turn off the engine — particularly for older models — can be confused by newer, quieter engines into mistakenly thinking that it is already off. Experts in Automotive Safety and representatives of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have pushed for mandatory safety features like automatic engine shut-off or alarms to alert drivers that the engine has been left running. In the face of auto industry opposition, those efforts have yet to be confirmed.  

Even without set regulations, some carmakers have acknowledged the flaw. For example, Toyota has said it will add an automatic shutoff feature on its new models with keyless ignition in coming years. Other automakers have added a motion detection feature to new fobs that deactivate the signal when the key is not in use. 

If you, or someone you know, has a car with this type of push-button start, be sure to turn the engine off before leaving the vehicle.  

Vehicle Theft on the Rise with Keyless Entry 

While push-button starters are convenient, unfortunately, they also make it easier than ever for burglars to steal vehicles of forgetful owners. Gone are the days of hot-wiring, all a thief needs to do is find a car where the key fob has been left inside. They press the button, put it in gear, step on the gas pedal, and drive away with your beloved car.  

According to Forbes, insurance claims reveal that car theft has increased by 20% between 2016 and 2019. This is especially true for luxury car makes such as Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes, Porsche and Tesla. In addition, the number of claims involving theft of parts or of possessions from vehicles has also risen significantly in the same time period. 

And the thefts aren’t limited to people leaving their keys in their cars. If you lose your key fob in public or leave it in a restaurant or store, criminals can locate your vehicle by activating the car’s horn or security system and pushing the key fob’s button. 

With a few simple measures, you can decrease the risk of your car or valuables in your car getting stolen: 

  1. Always lock your car and close the windows. 
  2. Never leave your car keys or keyless fob in the vehicle. 
  3. Park in well-lit places. 
  4. Don’t leave valuables in the car. 
  5. Be careful where you keep your car key fob; it should be in a safe place at least 65 feet (20 meters) from the vehicle where it will be out of range to unlock or start the car.  

Car Safety Resources 

Read more about Prevent Hot Car DeathsAuto Collision Avoidance SystemsRise in Crash Rates Linked to Higher Speed Limits. 

Stay safe on the roads during this holiday season. Badell’s Collision Repair cares about drivers and passengers. To request information or get an estimate, use our online form. 

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