No-start issues with Push Button Start system

March 19, 2017
Push button start

The Push Button Start is a next step from an old way of inserting the key into the ignition and turning it to stat.
You get into the car, press the brake, push the button and it starts. It's so simple, what can go wrong? Unfortunately, we all know that any new system comes with its own "new" glitches and bugs What can cause a car not to start?
Same as any other system, the push button start works in steps. Once you know at what step things go wrong, you will have an idea why a car won't start.
Try answering these questions. If the answer has a link, follow it; if not, continue to the next questions.

1. Do the lights on the dash come on when you press the Start button? Yes No
2. Is the "key not found" warning light on? Yes No
Does the car start if you hold the key fob right next to the start button or insert it in the key fob slot? Yes No
When you press the brake pedal, do the brake lights come on? Yes No
Does the transmission gear indicator show the transmission is in "Park" Yes No
What happens when you push the Start button?
- The instrument lights start blinking and nothing happens.
- There is a click, the gauges move, but nothing happens.

No lights on the dash

If no lights are coming on, it's possible that the battery is completely drained or one of the battery terminal is not connected properly. You might need to have your car boosted. Your battery may also need to be tested. Read here: how to check the battery.

"The "key is not found" light is on.

Security light flashing

In most cars with a push button start, the key fob must be inside the car to start the engine. How does your car security system knows that the key fob is inside the car? The key fob has a small transmitter / receiver inside. It communicates wearilessly with a car's security system. Often, when a key fob battery becomes weak, the key fob fails to communicate with the car.

How to start a car when the fob battery is weak
How to start a car when the fob battery is weak

The solution is to place a key fob close to the start button, like in the photo or if there is a special slot for the key fob, insert it into that slot. If this helps to start the car, you know there is something wrong with the key fob or its battery. You can also try using the second key, see if it makes any difference. If a battery in your key fob is bad, it can be replaced at your dealership.

The brake lights don't work

With a push button start system, the car can only be started when the brake pedal is depressed. How does your car's security system know that the brake pedal is depressed? There is a brake light switch installed at the brake pedal. It does two things: it turns your brake lights on when your press the brake pedal and lets the security system know that the brakes are applied. If your brake lights don't work, the brake light switch and its circuit must be checked. In some cars, there is an indicator on the dash asking you to press the brake. If the indicator stays on even when you are pressing the brake, the brake switch is also a prime suspect, Brake switch failures are very common. Read more about brake light switch.

The transmission indicator doesn't show transmission is in Park

Transmission gear indicator

An automatic car with a push button start can only be started when the transmission is in Park or Neutral. Sometimes a gear selector switch fails and even when you shift the transmission lever into Park, it still indicates that it's not in Park. Some cars may start in Neutral but won't start in Park. That is also an indication that the gear selector switch doesn't function properly.

Symptoms of a weak battery

When the battery is weak, it has some power but not enough to turn over the engine. What typically happens in this case is when you press the Start button, the dash lights would start blinking, but nothing else is happening. Read here: how to check the battery.