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Did the Ignition Key Just Die?

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the push-of-a-button dept.

Transportation 865

cartechboy (2660665) writes "Do you still use a metal key to start your vehicle? We already knew this was old tech at this point, but now it might fully be killed off. In the wake of General Motors' 'Switchgate' fiasco, we've heard the CEO tell a Congressional committee that the recall may force GM to ditch ignition keys altogether in favor of push-button systems. If this became a reality, it would end decades of complaints from customers. Bloomberg approximates at least 18,000 complaints have been filed since NHTSA was formed in 1970, peaking at more than 2,000 in the year 2000. Those complaints resulted in roughly 21 million vehicles being recalled. The push-button ignition isn't perfect, but we know electrical trumps mechanical more often than not. Are you ready for an era where the ignition key doesn't exist?"

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If not... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46921891)

Are you ready for an era where the ignition key doesn't exist?

If you aren't ready for advancements in technology then what are you doing reading this website?

Seriously.

Re:If not... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46921991)

You'd be surprised. It seems every time there is change in the tech sphere, Slashdot is the first to voice skepticism and discomfort.

Re:If not... (5, Funny)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about 8 months ago | (#46922151)

Nonsense. Every time there's a change in the tech sphere, Slashdot is one of the last sites to notice, much less voice skepticism and discomfort.

Re:If not... (3, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 8 months ago | (#46922159)

You'd be surprised. It seems every time there is change in the tech sphere, Slashdot is the first to voice skepticism and discomfort.

If not outright luddism...

Re:If not... (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 8 months ago | (#46922275)

If not outright luddism...

My car only has a key interface. It never fails.

I have a friend who has an electronic proximity thing (not push button). It fails occasionally. At which point she has to revert to using a key. And the key never fails.

The issue isn't whether a means of unlocking/starting the car IN ADDITION to the key is "the future".

It's whether any of those systems are as reliable as the physical key is and can 100% replace the key so that keys are never used again for cars.

Help! Help! (5, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 8 months ago | (#46921895)

My throttle is stuck open and I don't know how to shut the engine down!

Re:Help! Help! (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 8 months ago | (#46921927)

Phew well I crashed into a water barrier, I'm OK apart from a slightly sore face, close call! Anyway I can't get into this rental car because I parked near the source of some radio signal that's causing interference with the keyless ignition system. Can anyone recommend a good tow truck service?

Re:Help! Help! (5, Interesting)

Jaime2 (824950) | about 8 months ago | (#46922027)

On my former Dodge, you popped the button off and stuck the key in the recess. The key is inductively powered by the car in this mode. On my current Mazda, you walk.

Re:Help! Help! (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 8 months ago | (#46921953)

Push the button and hold it for a few seconds.

Re:Help! Help! (4, Funny)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about 8 months ago | (#46922023)

Push the button and hold it for a few seconds.

Am I the only one bothered by the fact that my car uses the same emergency shutdown as my cheap Windows machine?

Re:Help! Help! (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 8 months ago | (#46922147)

Clicking on Start in order to Stop?

Re:Help! Help! (2)

kwark (512736) | about 8 months ago | (#46922137)

Is there a setting in the bios to change this 4s to power off to immediatly?

Re:Help! Help! (5, Funny)

operagost (62405) | about 8 months ago | (#46922179)

I didn't hold it long enough and now my Chevrolet went into hibernation instead. It got really dicey when the windshield went blank.

Re:Help! Help! (2)

kheldan (1460303) | about 8 months ago | (#46921995)

You raise and excellent point. There must be a manual override to shut down the engine (and perhaps disengage the transmission) in an emergency.

Re:Help! Help! (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 8 months ago | (#46922075)

Out of curiosity, is the current key-based system actually such a thing, or is it effectively a mechanically troublesome button that feels like it actually clicks in to something important; but is no more in direct control than some horrible capacitive touch-area without even the slightest nod to tactile response?

If it is, is it dependent on the key in some way that couldn't be replicated by a different sort of switch. If not, when was the last time that it was?

Re:Help! Help! (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 8 months ago | (#46922153)

Try turning off a car with keys when the car is in drive.

Mostly doesn't work.

Re:Help! Help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922185)

And if you turn to far you turn on the steering wheel lock.. smart move. I'd like a "big" red button (somewhere passengers can't reach easily I guess) like on motor bikes.

Re:Help! Help! (2, Informative)

TheCarp (96830) | about 8 months ago | (#46922099)

Disengage the transmission? I have something that does that. Its called a clutch, and all the cars worth driving have them.

Re:Help! Help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922189)

Almost all vehicles with transmissions have them.

Re:Help! Help! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922225)

Your user number deceptively misrepresents you as being a lot younger than you are.

Cars don't have clutches these days.

Re:Help! Help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922273)

I hope that's a joke. Of course they have clutches.

Re:Help! Help! (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 8 months ago | (#46922109)

You raise and excellent point. There must be a manual override to shut down the engine (and perhaps disengage the transmission) in an emergency.

Why? Doesn't the car drive itself while I text?

Yea! that's the ticket, have the car stop running in response to a "STOP" text... Problem solved, except in those places where it's illegal to text and drive..

Re:Help! Help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922155)

Manual override to shutdown? Yes, just push the start button.
Disengage the transmission? Yes, got that too, it's called the clutch.

Re:Help! Help! (2)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 8 months ago | (#46922039)

Shift to neutral and coast to a stop?

Re:Help! Help! (2, Funny)

bobbied (2522392) | about 8 months ago | (#46922135)

You mean PUSH IN THE CLUTCH?

OH, this is one of them new fangled automatic everything fancy automobile thingies.. Just yell "Whoa Nelly" and pull.

Re:Help! Help! (5, Informative)

lgw (121541) | about 8 months ago | (#46922181)

Indeed. Pushbutton ignition doesn't bother me at all. The shift-by-wire and throttle-by-wire elements I find more troubling. I've had a mechanical throttle stick - hooked my foot under the gas pedal and lifted, problem solved. I've also had a problem with a mechanical transmission where I couldn't get it out of gear (not a clutch problem, since you can always pop into neutral without a clutch), and that freaked me out.

But my current car has an automatic shift level that AFAIK isn't mechanically coupled to anything. So "shift to neutral" requires computer cooperation in a scenario where we've started with the control computer losing its shit.

There are well understood ways to isolate these kinds of failures, but we've seen that we can't depend on car designers using them. Hopefully the manufacturers will all get onboard with basic fault isolation (e.g., no matter how hard the software that's sets throttle position crashes, the software that responds to "shift to neutral" must be unaffected), before some series of crashes prompts a law.

Re:Help! Help! (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 8 months ago | (#46922043)

It may end up in a few accidents with push button systems before legislation takes over determining that the driver must be able to turn off the engine without delay whenever necessary.

Re:Help! Help! (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#46922101)

At times like that RTFM probably isn't the response you were looking for.

Re:Help! Help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922113)

My throttle is stuck open and I don't know how to shut the engine down!

Your foot is on the gas pedal, Grandpa. Let up and give the keys to someone not suffering from dementia.

Re:Help! Help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922171)

If only there was a way to disconnect the engine from the wheels...

How do I... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46921907)

Get into my car?!?!?

Haaaa!!!!!!!

I don't like the control it takes away from you. (4, Insightful)

ZorinLynx (31751) | about 8 months ago | (#46921909)

With a key, you switch it to 1 and can run accessories. You switch it to 2 and the ignition computer is powered. Switch and hold it to 3 and you crank. You decide exactly how to start your engine.

With the newer systems, you just push the button and it decides what to do. You lose the control. What if you want to crank for a while because it won't start? What if you want to switch it to position 2 and push-start a manual transmission car? You can't.

I like the standard keys. And really, just because one manufacturer happened to use a defective part, we lose them? Key switches have been around for decade and are reliable. Just fix the reliability issue in that one model and that's it.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (4, Informative)

plover (150551) | about 8 months ago | (#46921963)

In a newer engine, the computer controls all aspects of starting and running; timing, spark intensity, fuel quantity, mixture, etc. Holding down the key and cranking is no longer everything needed to start a cranky engine.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#46922169)

In a newer engine, the computer controls all aspects of starting and running; timing, spark intensity, fuel quantity, mixture, etc. Holding down the key and cranking is no longer everything needed to start a cranky engine.

No, but sometimes it is an effective and useful diagnostic tool.

Oh, right, we're not supposed to work on our own vehicles anymore, how silly of me to forget.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 8 months ago | (#46922271)

Even in newer cars, the crank action is bogus. For example, newer Fords, when you move the key to the start position and let go, it automatically cranks for a set duration, as opposed to turning the starter motor as long as you have it in that key position. So, essentially it is a push button start, but using the momentary position in "start" as pressing the button. However, turning the key back to "off" does kill the engine.

Personally, I'm neutral. On one hand, the Prius and Nissan keyfobs that just sit in a pocket are cool with one less thing to flip open. On the other hand, having to stick the physical key in the vehicle with a very low power transmitter handling the passive anti-theft access gives a bump in security.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (1)

HideyoshiJP (1392619) | about 8 months ago | (#46922279)

Except it doesn't control starting, unless the car is also offered with push-button start. There's still an ignition wire that completes a circuit with the starter. Don't believe me? Turn the key to start while the car is running. You'll be greeted with a pleasant grinding noise as your starter motor cries out in pain. Having said that, it certainly does the rest. If you're still having to crank has truly serious issues if the car can't compensate by adjusting something to correct the AFR, timing, etc.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (5, Informative)

Jaime2 (824950) | about 8 months ago | (#46921965)

What if you want to switch it to position 2 and push-start a manual transmission car?

... then you push the button twice without your foot on the brake. It goes to run mode just like the second detent of a traditional key. Pressing once goes to accessory mode. More presses simply cycles between accessory...run...off.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (3, Interesting)

Critical Facilities (850111) | about 8 months ago | (#46921981)

FYI, you can still switch it to the position to run the accessories and not start he engine. Just don't step on the brake, then press the button once, and you'll get just the radio. Press it again (while again not stepping on the brake) and you'll get the rest of the accessories/instruments, and a third press (again, without the brake pedal depressed) and everything turns off. Simple.

Now, my car is an automatic, so I have not tried the roll/start on a manual transmission with a push button ignition, but it seems to me that with all of the accessories and instrumentation turned on, I don't see why it wouldn't work. And, as far as your point of needing to crank it for a while, if that's the case, there are issues that need repairing, so it's not as if you're being deprived of some designed, intended function of the vehicle.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922213)

It wouldn't work because accessories have nothing to do with ignition. I'd assume it'd be like trying to push-start a car with the key in the accessory position, which will most certainly not allow spark to happen or (maybe) fuel to flow.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (1)

syzler (748241) | about 8 months ago | (#46922247)

And, as far as your point of needing to crank it for a while, if that's the case, there are issues that need repairing, so it's not as if you're being deprived of some designed, intended function of the vehicle.

Unless, you live in a cold climate such as Fairbanks, Alaska during the the middle of winter and you stop at a shopping center which does not have electrical outlets for the block heater thus allowing your engine to cool to a nice refreshing -20 F. It does sometimes take a few extra cranks to get a gasoline engine to start, even if it is tuned and in working order.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (1, Insightful)

unixisc (2429386) | about 8 months ago | (#46921985)

Same here!

With an ignition key, I know that I'm in control. If I step out of the car, I'd normally remove the keys (unless there were other passengers already) and do whatever I have to do before returning, knowing that my car would still be there. With the remote, even if I stepped out w/ it, leaving the car unlocked, anybody can just get in and drive some distance. Maybe he won't get far, but the damage would have been done.

Not just your above points, but these remote controls now cost an arm and a leg, as opposed to the standard mechanical keys where you could buy duplicate or triplicate keys depending on how many you needed at reasonable prices.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (3, Informative)

gmack (197796) | about 8 months ago | (#46922191)

Same here!

With an ignition key, I know that I'm in control. If I step out of the car, I'd normally remove the keys (unless there were other passengers already) and do whatever I have to do before returning, knowing that my car would still be there. With the remote, even if I stepped out w/ it, leaving the car unlocked, anybody can just get in and drive some distance. Maybe he won't get far, but the damage would have been done.

In Europe, most cars use a key card system, if you remove the card from it's slot, the car won't drive.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 8 months ago | (#46922263)

Same here!

Not just your above points, but these remote controls now cost an arm and a leg, as opposed to the standard mechanical keys where you could buy duplicate or triplicate keys depending on how many you needed at reasonable prices.

SURE you can buy the key for under $25, but it's going to cost you $75 to have the dealer program the ECU or that key will not be able to start your car.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922021)

In my button start (2013 Hyundai Elantra) you press it once for the equivalent of 1 key turn (accessory mode) twice for running without a start, and hold the brake down and press to start. Holding it down while running for a couple seconds will kill the engine no problem, or tap it while in park. You lose the physical key but all the functionality is still there.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (1)

Dahan (130247) | about 8 months ago | (#46922025)

In Nissans and Toyotas with push button ignition, hold down the brake and press the button to crank. IIRC, it keeps cranking while you're holding down the button, although I haven't really tested that much, since I don't want to keep the starter engaged for too long once it's actually started. If you don't actually want to start the car, don't hold down the brake; just press the button to run accessories. Press it one more time to turn everything on.

I don't know if you can push-start a manual with this system, but it seems like you could.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922029)

My 2006 Chevy has a key, but the computer still starts the car. Turning the key to "3" just tells the computer to start the car, you don't have to hold it until the car starts either. Our newer cars do the same thing as well.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922041)

I push the brake and push the button once for ignition. If I want accessory I hit the button twice. If I want to turn the car on without starting the engine I press it 3 times.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922055)

You can do all of that with a keyless ignition. Leave foot off brake, push once for ACC, twice for ON. Foot on brake, press to start. It cranks until the engine fires, or at least as long as it makes sense.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922057)

Here's how it works in my car: press the button once without the clutch depressed, the ignition computer is powered. Press once more and you're in accessories-only mode. Press once more and the car is off. From off, press the button once with the clutch depressed, the computer cranks the engine for as long as it takes to fire up. If you want to push-start the car, you turn it on without pressing the clutch pedal, put it in 3rd, roll down a hill, let off the clutch and the engine fires up.

Just FYI how those things work in a push-start car.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 8 months ago | (#46922063)

I like the standard keys. And really, just because one manufacturer happened to use a defective part, we lose them? Key switches have been around for decade and are reliable. Just fix the reliability issue in that one model and that's it.

It isn't one manufacturer. There have been over 20 million recalled vehicles due to ignition switch problems, from basically every manufacturer, over the last 30 years.

That doesn't qualify as "reliable" in my book.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922211)

That doesn't qualify as "reliable" in my book.

I agree, but you have to look at the type of morons that are having problems. They're the type that would screw-up an anvil. There's nothing you can build that one of those Republicans can't break. By removing the key, you're just switching from something with a well-known failure rate to something, that while it might have a lower failure rate, has a much harder set of symptoms to diagnose. Republicans already have enough problems just starting and driving a car. Imagine how much more trouble their kind will have learning a new system. There's a reason Republicans have stuck with Chevy and Buick garbage. They are unable to comprehend more advanced cars like Toyotas.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#46922219)

I like the standard keys. And really, just because one manufacturer happened to use a defective part, we lose them? Key switches have been around for decade and are reliable. Just fix the reliability issue in that one model and that's it.

It isn't one manufacturer. There have been over 20 million recalled vehicles due to ignition switch problems, from basically every manufacturer, over the last 30 years.

That doesn't qualify as "reliable" in my book.

Right, because it's not like there's ever been, nor ever will be an issue with push-button ignitions that may incite a recall of millions of vehicles, right?

Wrong. [latimes.com]

FYI, contrary to the summary's baseless contention, "Electrical" is not always greater than "mechanical." Otherwise, parking brakes wouldn't still be engaged with steel cables.

Ditch the lock, keep the rotary switch. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922091)

Modern transponder keys are reliable, so when my F-150 lock cylinder acted up I removed it, dumped out the lock wafers, and reinstalled. All I need is the transponder for anti-theft. I'm mechanic and can't be arsed to code and reinstall my replacement cylinder but might one day.

The control you get from the rotary switch (which could as well be on the dash as it USED TO BE) remains.

Ignition key switches tend to fail over time because most are poorly engineered. I can deal with a pushbutton but I'll wire more options as I want them. Between buttons, switches, and simple Bosch-style relays you can have many options.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 8 months ago | (#46922131)

My car (2013 Fiat 500) uses an ignition key, but has no accessory position (which is REALLY annoying). It also stops cranking automatically - I cannot hold it in the crank position to keep it cranking.

Trust me, even if they keep the current key system, they'll find ways to remove user control.

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922165)

In all honestly, the problem is the "ignition key system" not the starter which is what you are referring to. A push button ignition system moves the entire starter process to a computer controlled process, making it harder to do stupid things (like switching the engine off while it's running, putting it in park while in motion, etc)

Now, what this means is that if you have a problem starting the car, you will have to do something else if it's not starting properly, and that will likely involve opening the engine compartment to press a "manual start" button which is the equivalent of holding the key down. The button belongs here, because that's where the mechanic needs it.

As for emulating the functions of the ignition switch:
Press once and release with your foot on the brake to turn on
Press and hold for 4 seconds with no pedals down then release to go to accessory only
Press and hold for 4 seconds with your foot on the brake to keep trying to crank until the button is released.

The important reason for "+Brake" is because a kid who is in the car shouldn't be able to start the car by accident. Most kids under the age of 14 can't reach the pedals

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (0)

bobbied (2522392) | about 8 months ago | (#46922231)

You lose the control. What if you want to crank for a while because it won't start?

We lost "control" decades ago with the advent of vacuum/RPM spark advance, it's been down hill from there.

Some things need to be automated, but once we got to this automatic transmission business I think it went too far. Most drivers today don't have a clue how their cars actually work, they just mash the peddles and turn the wheel. If they had just a little bit of an idea about how cars worked, they'd be a whole lot safer and able to *think* though common driving hazards. But I'll get off my soap box now..

Re:I don't like the control it takes away from you (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | about 8 months ago | (#46922253)

Pushing the button with the fob in the dash and foot off the brake will turn on ignition and not crank the engine. Pressing it a second time will put the car in ACC mode. Pushing it with a foot on the brake starts the engine. At least that is how BMW does it.

Awesome if true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46921925)

For people like me with a 35 year old car that's in perfect working order, this is awesome. Car thieves can't even figure out what the 5 pedals do let alone how to drive with them (.. for those going "5?", my model has the headlights down there for whatever reason)

So this will be another old-time-tech that will make my vehicle even more difficult for would-be thieves. Example - http://www.freerepublic.com/fo... [freerepublic.com]

Re:Awesome if true. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 8 months ago | (#46921943)

Apparently even cars with traditional H-pattern manuals are getting some extra security thanks to noobie thieves. They don't know how to drive them...seriously.

Re:Awesome if true. (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 8 months ago | (#46922003)

Manual transmission cars are getting harder and harder to find. It makes me sad - I will always pick a manual if I have the option to do so.

Re:Awesome if true. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#46922233)

Remember the days when the manual version of most cars was cheaper, and you paid a premium for the automatic?

How times have changed...

Re:Awesome if true. (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 8 months ago | (#46922163)

Yup and there was a case of this in m8y state which was hilarious: http://www.masslive.com/news/i... [masslive.com]

but a quick google search shows: https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

Just on the first page of google we see similar incidents in Florida, New Jersey, DC.... ROTFL.

Easier or harder to steal a car? (4, Insightful)

kheldan (1460303) | about 8 months ago | (#46921931)

Here's what I'm thinking:
1. We're trading traditional car-stealing techniques for hacking techniques.
2. Now instead of the otherwise mature, reliable technology of a mechanical ignition lock system, we're going to have to worry about zero-day vulnerabilities in a complex system?
3. Another facet of vehicle security: What about the steering lock mechanism? If it's electrically actuated, then what's the point in even having it? It can theoretically be hacked like the rest of the car.
4. Another approach to hacking your way into stealing a car: Manufacturer 'back doors' into the system? I'm thinking there'd have to be some sort of 'manufacturer access' backdoor built into the system, which once uncovered will just make it easier to steal a car.

I'm sure I'll think of more later on but that's what I've got off the top of my head.

Every technology has zero days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922107)

Remember back in the day when cars had different keys for door, ignition, glove box and trunk, and your trunk key might fit another guy's door, your glove box key might fit another guy's ignition? Sounds pretty stupid today, and we use keys very different...but that was kind of a zero day exploit wasn't it?

Technology changes always hurt for a few years, and then they improve, and things are better. Vulnerabilities or flaws that last on the scale of five, ten, twenty years are horrifying for people in the computer industry...but they're kind of normal everywhere else.

Re:Easier or harder to steal a car? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922121)

neither, the easiest way to steal any car is to drive up to it with a flat bed truck with some legit looking name on the side, and get out wearing safety vests over golf shirts of same company name.

takes less than 5 minutes to get a car up on to the bed if your good and then you can deal with everything else in your leisure time. (in a Faraday cage or in an underground parking structure of some sort to block any and all radio transmissions that may emit from the vehicle)

it will end up being harder to use the cars, to quote the OP "but we know electrical trumps mechanical more often than not" this is laughable at best and is the reason automotive repairs are so expensive. the CAN system is a joke by any modern day networking standards and the reason that most newer cars are having problems, most of all securing the network itself.

Useless article =/ (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 8 months ago | (#46921937)

Was this created by a content farming script or something? OK cool, so no more keys due to 'switchgate' how about explaining that scandal a bit ?

Or explain how the irritatingly passe use of appending 'gate' onto the end of anything resembling a scandal now applies to a car recalls rather than just political scandals.

Also, how about explaining how a push button start would correct the situation?

And finally; props for writing a summary that literally contains all the information contained in the article. (Well almost all of it.)

Re:Useless article =/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922051)

Or explain how the irritatingly passe use of appending 'gate' onto the end of anything resembling a scandal now applies to a car recalls rather than just political scandals.

I would use an inappropriate slashdot car analogy(tm) to explain this, but I think the summary beat me to it.

Betteridge says No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46921941)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_law_of_headlines

Welcome to five years ago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46921947)

My dad's base-model Nissan had one five-ish years ago, and that was such a stripped model that it didn't even have a factory radio.

I thought the only cars with a key-in-slot ignition were fleet models and the ones that hadn't been redesigned in half a decade. Oh, and American-brand cars, but I repeat myself.

No, thank you. (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 8 months ago | (#46921949)

Are you ready for an era where the ignition key doesn't exist?"

A physical key still unlocks the doors when the car's battery has died. A physical key doesn't itself have a battery to die, leaving you stranded in a blizzard in the middle of nowhere after you stop to pee on the side of the road. And perhaps most importantly - A physical key doesn't cost some $300 to replace when you drop it in a puddle. If that particular scam doesn't solely account for the auto industry's desire to move to keyless fobs, I have a bridge for sale.

Out With the Old (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 8 months ago | (#46921955)

Those complaints resulted in roughly 21 million vehicles being recalled. The push-button ignition isn't perfect, but we know electrical trumps mechanical more often than not.

Those recalls were predominantly due to issues which arose as a direct result of companies cutting cost by deliberately making parts weaker, cheaper, less durable, etc. It is simply naive to suggest that these same companies will apply more care or consideration when designing all electrical systems.

All a switch to electronic system will do is replace infrequent mechanical recalls with increasingly more frequent updates of shoddy on-board software. Eventually, drivers will be expected to download and install car software patches themselves. Once again, company costs will be externalized at the expense of quality.

Re:Out With the Old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922201)

This.

Just because they build a shitty ignition switch doesn't mean that Keys are the reason for the failure. In the future it will be the button assembly, and then what will happen?

Re:Out With the Old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922223)

deliberately making parts weaker, cheaper, less durable, etc.

That process is the reason you can afford a car. Otherwise we'd all drive Bentleys.

Just Different Problems (4, Interesting)

mk1004 (2488060) | about 8 months ago | (#46921957)

So these key fobs that are used on push-button ignitions have their own issues. RF interference is one. A guy I work with had his car towed because he couldn't start his car, had a module replaced on car, only to find out that it was RF interference that was the culprit.

Re:Just Different Problems (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#46922161)

Dealers are worthless for that kind of stuff, they did not even test they just replaced it at his cost.

NEVER EVER let a dealer touch your car, they only hire incompetent idiots for their service department.

Bring it on (2)

StatureOfLiberty (1333335) | about 8 months ago | (#46921959)

I have one car with an ignition key and two cars with start buttons.

Every time I get in the car with the key it goes something like this:

Sit down
Reach for start button
Curse under my breath
Dig through pocket for key
Start vehicle with key.

I'd love to be done with mechanical keys.

So 19th century (1)

mschuyler (197441) | about 8 months ago | (#46921971)

Using a key is so 19th century. Pushing a button? 20th century. Embedded RFID is where it's at. Get in the car; it turns on. End of story.

Relocate the bloody thing (4, Interesting)

khb (266593) | about 8 months ago | (#46922031)

SAAB dealt with this issue mechanically decades ago. Mechanical key in the center, where the handbrake is located. No stress on the mechanical switch due to heavy key rings.

Worked very well, unless they had (have) a patent on it, seems like an easier more reliable fix.

Re:Relocate the bloody thing (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 8 months ago | (#46922261)

This makes a lot of sense, but another reliable fix is to simply.... not have a heavy keyring. The advice to not dangle every object you own off your car key has been around since I was a kid. I remember being told that having a heavy keyring could damage the car ignition switch....so I never attached my car key, for any of my cars, to my keyring (even though mine is relatively small and light compared to many)

Works great. I never understood why people consider being unable to dangle 13 keyrings full of keys and nick nacks from the ignition switch of the car was such a necessary feature.

make it three (1)

epine (68316) | about 8 months ago | (#46922035)

I am so ready for all new vehicles with fob starters to come with three fob sets, by default.

Re:make it three (1)

Albanach (527650) | about 8 months ago | (#46922143)

Most the cars I've encountered allow you to program a third key if you have the original two. Are there newer cars that prevent the owner adding an additional key themselves?

The problem usually arises when people don't get a new key before losing one of the first two, and a $20 key becomes a $200+ key and trip to the dealer.

Government Kill Switch (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922059)

That is all.

Why blame the key type? (3, Insightful)

DigitAl56K (805623) | about 8 months ago | (#46922079)

Those complaints resulted in roughly 21 million vehicles being recalled.

How many of these recalls would not have happened if the manufacturers listened to their own internal reports saying that the parts had problems? We can subtract GM's most recent 2.6 million for a start.

Nice try, trying to blame the key type.

I haven't used an ignition key in 10 years. (1)

TangoCharlie (113383) | about 8 months ago | (#46922093)

The last two cars I've owned have been Renaults. Not only do they key-cards, but they're wireless too. No need to actually dig them out of your bag! How can other manufacturers be so behind???!

you probably drive an automatic, too (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 8 months ago | (#46922097)

It's 4040 lbs of deadly steel driven by fiery explosions, not a goddamned iPad!

I guess a blue glowing "Start" button is acceptable for a Tesla, since that's all futuristic and stuff.

Re:you probably drive an automatic, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922193)

Tesla has done away with the start button in its entirety. Just sit in the seat, with the key in your pocket, press the brake and select drive.

Eh. There are worse things... (1)

HideyoshiJP (1392619) | about 8 months ago | (#46922115)

I'll miss it, but as long as there is a failsafe in place for getting into the car with a dead battery, which most already have, all will be fine. I do worry, though, about the ability of some people to figure out how to turn the engine off in an emergency. The runaway Toyota business was quite pitiful...

A switch is a switch (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922129)

The traditional key is just a security token that allows you to connect the electrical contacts that start and operator your car. Pushbutton start cars replace the security mechanism with something more modern. (Wireless short range, presumably encrypted communication)

Traditional car keys are easy to copy. It's an upside because you can do it at wal-mart for a couple of bucks. It's a downside because it's not really secure. Getting new keys with your pushbutton system involves a bunch of BS with your auto dealer and a non-trivial amount of money. I could see car makers using this issue as a wedge to milk customers when they need new/more keys, but a lot of modern mechanical car keys use special/exotic designs that aren't copy-able by anyone but the automaker anyway.

My new Prius has a pushbutton start and I really like it. At first it's weird not going through the ritual of messing with your keys to start your car. You just have the thing in your pocket. Touch the door handle, car unlocks. Sit down. Press button. Go. It's actually really convenient, particularly if your hands are full and you don't want to fish in your pockets.

The car does have a mechanical fallback so you can get in if the car is completely dead. The keyfob has a little metal key that slides out and can open the driver side door. That's it.

Good Riddance to the Ignition Key (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922133)

As the owner of a 2004 Saturn Ion, I am so ready for the ignition key to go away. It is expensive and very difficult repair. I spent over $1000 twice to fix my ignition key. When an ignition key goes bad you need to fix much more then the lock and key. It will usually burn out the electronics, sometimes the starter motor, and you have to be careful to not damage the air bag. Another problem is that locksmith's rarely work at a repair shop so the repair will take longer because you need to go to 2 different locations.

Eletrical trumps mechanical? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922139)

we know electrical trumps mechanical more often than not

Since when? Electrical systems can fail, too, and they can be just as poorly designed as poorly designed mechanical systems. Electrical is really only better for complex systems.

And increased profits for GM (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#46922145)

Instead of getting a replacement key for $12.99 now it will cost you $350 for a second key.

The Govt needs to step in and tell them that the MAX cost to customers can not exceed $40 for the transponder and PROGRAMMING fees together.

Honda rips people off with their keyless system $100 programming fee for their tech to spend less than 5 minutes with the tool plugged into my odb-II port.

GM wants in on the rip off action now as well.

EMP Bait (1)

Baldrson (78598) | about 8 months ago | (#46922175)

One more target for EMP.

I hate push button start (1, Insightful)

scorp1us (235526) | about 8 months ago | (#46922177)

I've driven a BMW 135, X1 with a push button start. And I hate them. Maybe it is different for other manufactures, but here's what happens:
1. I push the fob key into the slot, and I accidentally unlock the trunk.
2. I've got to push some dash start button, which seems to have some kind of timer control. It's not a temporary switch to the starter motor. You can just tap it and it will engage thee stater. I worry what happens when my fuel pump or battery is a few years older and it takes a little longer to start.
3. Turning off the key is another ceremony in hitting a button then pulling the fob out.

If they had it so inserting the fob one click was "acc" a 2nd clock was "on", and pushing it in was "start" for as long as I push it, along with just pulling the whole thing out was "off", where I can start and stop the car in one fluid motion, then we would have something. But I hate this "Japanese tea ceremony" of starting a vehicle. I've got it down to one motion with my tumbler key. I don't want that replaced with an inferior process.

You dont want a car completely reliant on the elec (2, Insightful)

tekrat (242117) | about 8 months ago | (#46922221)

You don't want a car completely reliant on the electrical system. Batteries freeze, cars rust (killing the ground), cars wind up flooded or driven into a lake, weather can produce unseen effects.

I for one, do not want to be in car like that after the electrical system has failed, and you can't even open the damn doors without electricity.

I want a car that I can push start if needed. In fact, the less "electrical" anything there is in a car, the less there is to go wrong.

When you go to a car show, I see a lot of cars from the 50's and 60's -- and you know what I'll see 30 years from now -- the same cars! You won't see "modern cars" sold as classics 30 years from now because once the computer in those cars dies, the car is a paperweight. Nothing works. The engine isn't even capable of running without all those sensors and computers.

I'm rebuilding a '69 beetle right now, and I'll tell you that there's a certain comfort in knowing that I know the entire car, bumper to bumper, there's no mystery about how it operates, and I can fix any piece of it, myself, with common hand tools.

why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922235)

would anyone want that unsafe crap where even a child can start the car, let alone thieves...

Fine with me, but seems ridiculous .... (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about 8 months ago | (#46922245)

I mean, up till now, auto makers have offered push-button keyless start as a premium option you had to pay extra for. My Hyundai Genesis Coupe, for example, had push-button start -- but it was a GT version of the car. The base models still had standard ignition keys.

Personally, I like the keyless start functionality, but I highly doubt it will prove any more reliable than ignition keys in the long run. These systems rely on the battery operated transponders on people's keyfobs, and IMO, those are the weak spot. A metal key is relatively hard to damage. If you manage to drop it in the toilet or sink or the swimming pool, it's going to be just fine. The transponders, not so much.

Of course, with the insane prices the dealers started asking for replacement keys with the digital computer security chips embedded in them, I guess people might be happy to see those disappear?

1940's (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922257)

I don't get how a push button is in any way superior to a turn key, if Ford and GM can't get a turn key working right in 70 years then just maybe it reflects on those companies more than the fundamental design. If you can't manage to turn a key then just maybe driving isn't for you.

They aren't a troubled technology (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 8 months ago | (#46922259)

I've never seen a car that has a problem with its ignition and while there was recently a scandal, the vast majority of cars never have this issue.

What is more, if all cars were push button ignition cars, I'm quite sure that more cars would statistically pop up that have a problem with their push button system.

Do you know how ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#46922267)

... to get a vehicle off of a railroad crossing or out of an intersection when the engine dies? Can you get moving from a standing stop when the clutch linkage breaks?

ignition keys 4evar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46922277)

i want an ignition key for my computer.

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