Problems With Push-Button Start Cars? (4 Main Issues)

Push button start cars offer easier access to starting and stopping a car. With a smart key fob in hand or in close range, your vehicle will start as you press the start button while your right leg holds down the brake.

Sounds cool, right? Well, if you’re thinking of upgrading your car to this keyless level, you need to learn about the downsides of the push-button start technology.

We’ve not only uncovered the common issues with these cars, we also provide proven solutions to them.

Here are 4 most common problems with a push button start car.

1. Engine won’t start

Normally, you start a keyless car by pushing the ignition button in while pressing the brake. But, sometimes, the car would refuse to start even when you’ve done the right thing.

When this happens, you may get a message on the screen reading “Key not detected” as you push the start button.

The truth is, this is a common but minor problem that you can easily fix. Here are 3 simple ways to solve the key not detected problem.

a. Check the battery of the key fob

Your engine will refuse to start when it fails to read a signal from your smart key. This happens when the battery of the key is low or damaged.

So, replace the low or spoilt battery if you have a replacement and restart your car.

b. Push the button with the key

You can also start the car by using the smart key to push the start button.

Just push the button with the rear side of the key while you press down the brake, and the engine will respond. This works on many Toyota vehicles and some other brands.

c. Use your smart key like a traditional key

Sometimes, the engine would refuse to start even when there’s no fault with the smart key.

When this happens, try to push out the cover of the start button; insert your smart key in the hole, if suitable; and start the car the same way you would start a key-to-start vehicle.

While this option may not work for all vehicles, it works for many Mercedes Benz models and some other cars. If this works for your car, you still need the attention of a professional to check and fix the problem.

If you drive a Honda car that features the push-start button, you may need to press the ignition button up to three times or more before it responds. Many Honda owners, especially the 2016 HRV, have claimed that this works for them.

If you have this problem with your Honda vehicle, you may need to clean the push button module. Seek professional help if the problem persists.

2. Engine does not turn off

Sometimes, you’ll notice your vehicle system clashing on whether it is in park mode or not. While a sign indicates you’re in park, the other states otherwise.

Well, this is a system error which can frustrate owners of keyless cars. This is because the engine of the car won’t stop when you press the button.

You’ll only switch off the engine by placing your car in park before pressing the button.

So, what do you do? Check the gear shifter of your car. Look out for a broken cable or a mis-aligned part. If you can’t fix this yourself, call a professional.

3. The smart key fob can be hacked

Have you thought of how the keyless remote works?

The smart key amplifies the signal that comes out of the fob. With a wavelength of about 3-500 ft, the vehicle can read the signal encoded in the key from a significant distance.

While the smart key is active, there is a constant communication with your vehicle and other nearby receivers.

Is there any problem with this? Of course, yes. This constant communication can make your car vulnerable to theft.

The smart key of every push-button start car houses the digital code responsible for accessing your car. Being a digitally encoded keyless remote, this device can be hacked by professional thieves, thereby granting unauthorized access to your car.

Wondering how possible that is?

It takes a hacker to read the signal of your remote if found within range. Once the hacker reads the code, it can be transferred to another key fob which can be used to access your car.

So, how do you avoid this?

Unknown to many owners of push-button start vehicles, you can simply deactivate the keyless remote when you’re out of your car. By pressing just two buttons, you will prevent your car from possible external accessibility.

Doing this will also help manage the battery of the smart key.

Learn how to temporarily deactivate the key fob through the steps below:

  • Hold the key fob firmly.
  • Hold down the lock button for about 2-5 seconds.
  • Then press the unlock button twice.
  • You’ll notice a red light pop up on the fob. This indicates that you’ve temporarily deactivated the remote signal of your car.
  • Once you’re ready to access the vehicle again, just press the unlock button and the car will let you in.

Note: Please check your owner’s manual for the specific instructions for deactivating your smart key.

Make sure to also read our article about cars with a push-button to start functionality.

4. It could lead to environmental hazard

If your car features the push button technology and it is very noiseless, you may leave the engine on thinking you’ve switched it off.

This could likely happen if you’re new to the technology or you leave your car in a rush. Remember that many factors, listed above, could lead to a failure of the push button. So, you should always ensure your car is off before leaving the cabin.

When you leave your engine running, it’s just a matter of minutes before your surroundings become engulfed with carbon monoxide caused by the emission from your car’s muffler.

You know how dangerous this situation could be, right? So, be mindful of the state of your engine when stopping your car.

If you use some models of Ford, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Mazda, GM, you’ll be less likely to have this issue. This is because some of these cars feature an audible alarm that could chirp or chime to alert you that it is still on.

However, if you use a Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, or Volkswagen, which all have no audible alarm, you should be very mindful of the state of the engine when stopping the car.

General Pros and Cons for Push-button Start Cars

Push button start cars are much more accessible than the key-to-start cars. These vehicles give you much convenience and comfort even though it can be messy sometimes.

Here are some pros and cons of a push button start cars you should note:

Pros of a Push Button Start Cars

  • It is more secure and convenient. It takes a high level of technical hacking to bypass its security.
  • This technology allows you to lock your car remotely or automatically.

Cons of a Push Button Start Cars

  • It can be vulnerable to theft when you are less careful with the key fob.
  • Your car might be difficult to turn off when there is a problem with the shifter alignment.
  • Your vehicle might not start when the smart key fob is faulty.

Again, you can manage these disadvantages when you have a deeper understanding of how these vehicles work. If you would like to avoid these issues altogether, you can check out our article about cars without a push-button start function.

What Do the Reviews Say?

Push-button start cars work with unique code installed in the smart key fob to improve the security of your car.

“It’s much harder to steal the vehicle since a potential thief would need your key fob. It’s also more convenient since you only need to keep the key fob in your pocket. This means no fumbling for keys or searching the depths of your pockets or purse for them.”

Even though there are various risks involved in using the key fob, many vehicle owners prefer a keyless car to its counterpart.

“The push button start system is good if you prefer added security and the convenience of a keyless system, so long as you understand the risks.”

If you’re concerned about strong security, you can rely on the keyless technology, as long as you do not compromise the accessibility of your key fob.

“Among other advantages, these systems are designed to help deter break-ins and vehicle theft. Since the car’s computer will only recognize a signal from its own fob, thieves will have a harder time getting in and starting the engine.”

However, a major concern of this technology is the failure of many drivers to turn off the engine while leaving the car.

“With keyless ignition, and in light of today’s exceptionally quiet engines, it’s not difficult to forget to turn off the motor when leaving your car.”

The potential environmental hazards that could result from failure to switch on the engine of these cars has led to various deaths and health issues. This is why the National Highway Traffic Safety insist on mandating the audible signal on all vehicle manufacturers.

“We’re going to continue to see deaths and injuries… and the manufacturers will continue to settle cases.”

In spite of the downsides, the popularity of these cars remains on the high.

“Keyless ignitions are now standard in over half of the 17 million new vehicles sold annually in the United States.”

What Is the Resale Value on a Push-button Start Car?

The table below highlights the resale value of some popular cars with push-button start:

Model Year Mileage (KM/h) Price ($)
Ford Mustang 2021 18k mi 55,998
Ford Escape 2013 82k mi 18,998
Chevrolet Volt 2014 71k mi 18,998
Chevrolet Equinox LT 2015 80k mi 19,998
Honda Civic 2022 9k mi 33,998
Honda Accord 2014 76k mi 19,998
Chrysler 200 2015 83k mi 18,998
Nissan Altima 2015 90k mi 17,998
Nissan Maxima 2019 21k mi 30,998
GMC Terrain 2018 60k mi 22,998
GMC Acadia Denali 2016 70k mi 26,998
Volkswagen Tiguan 2019 17k mi 28,998
Volkswagen Atlas 2021 17k mi 36,998
Toyota Highlander 2013 86k mi 23,998
Toyota Camry 2012 72k mi 17,998
Mercedes Benz C43 2017 40k mi 37,998
Mercedes Benz E450 2019 29k mi 51,998

NB: The above prices are estimated and may vary based on individual preferences and your location.

Final Thoughts

Ever since Mercedes Benz introduced the keyless technology, branded as “Keyless Go” in 1998, almost all other automotive brands have also featured the technology.

This car does not only offer ease of control, it also promotes many security measures.

However, you can only derive the best from a push-button start car when you understand how it works and how to troubleshoot it.


Going Keyless | Edmunds

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