Safely Operating a Keyless Ignition System

April 21, 2016

Keyless ignition systems are becoming more popular in modern vehicles and offer several benefits to drivers. Over the past several years, new variations of these systems have been appearing. In the early 2000s, they were only options in luxury vehicles, but keyless ignition systems grew in popularity enough that they are now offered even in economy vehicles. However, it is important to understand the basics of a keyless ignition system before purchasing a new car that has one.

What Is A Keyless Ignition System?
This type of system includes a key fob, which is usually just called a "fob" by auto dealers. The fob contains electronic verification data, which is verified when the vehicle is started. To start the vehicle, the driver must carry the fob or have it in the car. If the ignition lever is turned without the fob in the vehicle, it will not start. In some cases, the ignition may be in the form of a push button instead of a turning device.

How Do Keyless Ignition Systems Differ?
The main difference in keyless ignition systems is the type of ignition device. It is either a turning or rotary lever or a button that is pushed. However, there are also systems that use a flip lever, which is similar to a light switch. Push-button systems have become the most common type of keyless ignition systems, and rotary levers are close behind. Rotary levers are the same as a key-based ignition switch in most ways. However, they usually have a small raised lever, which is used to grip and turn the device instead of the key itself.

These systems are also different in how they alert drivers. For example, some systems detect unsafe conditions and automatically put the vehicle in park. Some may also shut the vehicle off. They may prevent the driver from leaving the vehicle without the fob by using a beeping noise or a similar alert. Drivers can learn about their individual systems in the vehicle's manual.

Are Keyless Ignition Systems Dangerous?
The National Highways Transportation Safety Administration warns against shutting off the vehicle's propulsion system while it is still in drive mode. If drivers do this and walk away from the vehicle, it may start to roll on its own. This is especially true if there is an incline or if another vehicle bumps it. The vehicle must always be in park before shutting off the propulsion system. Also, drivers should not put the vehicle in park and leave the propulsion system running in an enclosed area. When they do this, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning increases greatly. Drivers should also know how to shut their systems down safely in the event of an emergency on the road.

By following basic safety tips for using a keyless ignition system, it is easier to stay safe and keep other motorists safer. Remember to always put the vehicle in park before shutting it down. Apply the brake for additional safety. Also, be sure to keep the fob at all times. It may be inadvertently locked in a car or stolen if the vehicle does not have automatic locks. To learn more about keyless ignition systems and safety, discuss concerns with an agent.

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