Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How a Keyless Push-Button Ignition Works

Keyless 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.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Idaho
The state of Idaho offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the...
Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in New Mexico
The state of New Mexico offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch...
P2422 OBD-II Trouble Code: Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2422 P2422 code definition Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP)...


Related questions

Q: How do you silence the horn beep feature when using the remote?

Your car is set by default to honk the horn when you lock your doors with the remote. However, you can change this if you prefer. Here’s what you need to do: Press both the lock and unlock buttons...

Q: Car ignition switch - 2011 Malibu Chevrolet

This could be caused by a wide variety of possibilities. Without additional detail of the symptoms, this may be tough to diagnose here. You'll need to find out if the car is cranking at all or if there is any...

Q: I turned the key to start and it tries to start but won't. I turned the key to on and it is still trying to start.

It sounds like the ignition switch tumbler has broken inside. Remove the battery cable and try turning the key on and off several times. Hook up the battery cable again and recheck the starting situation. If the starter still wants...