How Does a Push-Button Start Work?

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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.


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Robert

36 years of experience
143 reviews
Robert
36 years of experience
Land Rover Range Rover - Car is not starting - Tyrone, Georgia
Robert showed up early for our appointment. Based on the information I provided; he was able to do an initial assessment fairly quickly in order for me to determine next steps. Very professional, prompt and courteous.
Honda Accord - Car is not starting Inspection - Fayetteville, Georgia
Mr. White was prompt and courteous. He was professional and informative as he checked out the vehicle.

John

19 years of experience
459 reviews
John
19 years of experience
Ford F-150 - Car is not starting Inspection - Orlando, Florida
John was able to diagnose the problem with our truck and based on his recommendation we a will save a lot of money.

Scott

35 years of experience
668 reviews
Scott
35 years of experience
Honda Fit - Car is not starting - Gilbert, Arizona
Scott did a very through job with identifying my car problem. The new battery that was installed just a few weeks ago is faulty.

Javier

10 years of experience
57 reviews
Javier
10 years of experience
Acura TSX - Car is not starting - Santa Monica, California
Javier showed up on time with a bunch of diagnostic tool to figure out what was going on with my car and its battery/starter

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