Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. How Does a Push-Button Start Work?

How Does a Push-Button Start Work?

Push to Start

For the vast majority of people, cranking your car involves getting the key out, sliding it into the ignition, and turning it to the “run” position. However, if you have a push-button start system, then you don’t have to do that. You just get inside and push the button labeled start/stop, and the engine roars to life. Simple and easy, right? Actually, these are pretty complicated systems.

The purpose of a push-button start system

You might think that the primary purpose of a push-button start system is convenience, but you’d only be partially correct. They’re really designed to discourage theft. Because there is no physical key necessary to crank the car, it actually makes it harder for would-be thieves to make off with your vehicle.

Though you don't need a traditional key to get the car started, you need a special fob. It can stay in your pocket, where it broadcasts a signal to the car’s computer. The computer recognizes the fob’s code, and lets you crank the ignition. Of course, there are some safeguards in place. For instance, you can’t start the engine if you’re not holding the brake and have the car in park. If either of these conditions isn’t met, the engine won’t start.

Another safeguard here is that the car’s computer is only able to recognize the code from your specific key fob. This means that another driver with their car's fob won’t be able to get in and start your engine.

How a push-button start works

The only real difference between a push-button start system and a conventional keyed ignition is that you don’t need a key to close the circuit on the ignition. The button does that. Pushing the button does the same thing that turning the key does. The fob is really the beauty behind the system, which ensures that only you can start the car.

Potential problems

There are a few issues with push-button start systems, though. For instance, the fob can be removed from inside the car during operation and it will not affect operation. The engine will keep right on running until the car runs out of gas. Another potential issue is the fact that the car can be shut off while still in drive, which means that it may roll accidentally if you were to get out of the car without applying the parking brake.

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

How Long Does a Vacuum Brake Booster Check Valve Last?
The braking system on your car requires a lot of pressure. The vacuum booster is one of the main sources of this pressure. This booster will take the pressure that...
P0121 OBD-II Trouble Code: TPS "A" Circuit Range Performance Problem
P0121 code definition Throttle Pedal Position Sensor/Switch (TPS) A Circuit Range Performance Problem...
Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...

Related questions

Q: How do you use the push button start system?

Your car is equipped with a push button start/stop system. While this is definitely more convenient than using a conventional key, there are a few things that might take some getting used to. Here’s what you should know about using...

Q: Q: Cant start my car.

The battery in the remote may have to be replaced. The remote batteries only last around 8 years and tend to lessen the time if the keys are dropped. I suggest replacing the battery in the remote and reprogramming the...

Q: How Does a Keyless Push-Button Ignition Work?

Push-button ignition system designs are highly technical and vary between manufacturers. Here, in a nutshell, is how they work. When you push the “engine start” button, that button sends an electrical command (voltage signal) to several control modules (computers). One...