Why The Days Of Using A Key To Start Your Car Are Numbered

An ignition switch recall at GM could see the company switching solely to starter buttons. Could this be the end of the humble key as we know it?

By Matt Robinson, 02 May 2014

2012-Honda-Civic-Euro-Version-Starter-Button

If you spend any amount of time driving new cars, you'll have noticed an increasingly common feature: a starter button. Before too long, the humble ignition key we've used for years could disappear altogether, if this report by Bloomberg is anything to go by. It outlines a case with General Motors involving a faulty ignition switch in the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion where the key could slip into the 'off' position, turning off the engine and - crucially - shutting down the airbags. This is thought to have contributed to at least 13 deaths, and GM is currently under investigation after taking over a decade to recall the cars.

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2.59 million vehicles are affected by the recall, and GM CEO Mary Barra admitted that the episode could lead to the company having push-start buttons as standard on all of its new cars. With such a huge company making that shift, it could spell the beginning of the end for traditional ignition keys, with other manufacturers following suit. Ford also experienced ignition key issues, with some Focus owners experiencing stuck keys, or keys that wouldn't turn.

Of course, push-button starters aren't immune from problems, but the systems have far fewer moving parts, usually consisting of a remote fob and a button sending an electrical signal to the engine. Fewer moving parts means there's little to wear out, which reduces the risk of problems faced by the humble key and ignition.

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