How a Keyless Push-Button Ignition Works | YourMechanic Advice

How a Keyless Push-Button Ignition Works

Technology has advanced for automotive security and user-focused features, and a shift is occurring where traditional key-and-cylinder starting systems are being replaced by keyless push-button ignition systems. They are incredibly simple to operate and provide excellent security.

The system was developed initially in the mid-1990’s by Siemens and was released first in Mercedes-Benz vehicles as Keyless Go. Since then, their popularity has grown exponentially. Now, keyless push-button ignition systems are known by dozens of different names depending on the auto manufacturer, including:

  • SMART Key
  • Keyless Go
  • FAST Key
  • Intelligent Key
  • Comfort Access

How it Works

Keyless push-button ignition operates based on low-frequency radio ID. Your key fob is a transmitter equipped with a specific electronic ID tag and the signal is amplified with a battery in the key fob. When you are in close proximity to your vehicle, antennas around your vehicle recognize your key fob’s presence and allow you to unlock and lock your doors with the press of a button on the handle, if it is so equipped.

When you enter your car, the antennas around your vehicle make comparative calculations to determine that you are indeed inside. The antennas transmit the electronic ID from the key fob to the receiver module. When you press the ignition button to start the car, the receiver disables the immobilizer, powers the starter circuit, and the engine turns over.

If the key fob battery is dead, you may not be able to unlock your doors or start your car in the same fashion. Manufacturers typically include a backup source to start your car such as a key shaft hidden in the fob. There is a location in the dash it needs to be inserted where another antenna or transponder ring picks up the diminished signal and allows the car to start.

If you lose your key fob, your car will not be able to start at all. You will need to have a new key made in order to use your car again.


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Bryant

11 years of experience
407 reviews
Bryant
11 years of experience
Ford Fusion - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Indianapolis, Indiana
Bryant has done great work on my car before, the latest work is no exception. He's very flexible, and goes the extra mile to get you back on the road.
Scion iA - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Carmel, Indiana
This is my first time using this service. I am very happy with it. Bryant was very knowledgeable and did quality work. I will use this service more regularly.

Augustine

11 years of experience
57 reviews
Augustine
11 years of experience
Volkswagen Passat - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Albuquerque, New Mexico
He’s amazing! Did a wonderful job on my brakes and was extremely knowledgeable, and a real fun guy to be around as well!

Jimmi

25 years of experience
68 reviews
Jimmi
25 years of experience
Mazda CX-9 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Orlando, Florida
Jimmi was wonderful. He was on time, knowledgeable, and completed work in a timely manner. He went above and beyond with helpful tips and recommendations. We will be using him for all our family vehicles.

Robert

3 years of experience
4 reviews
Robert
3 years of experience
Toyota RAV4 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Tacoma, Washington
Came right on time! Had all the necessary tools to finish the job. After the test drive, he gave me an update on my car. Topped off my fluids and disinfect the inside. Well recommend!!

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