A Tale of Three Fobs, or, How Tech Don’t Travel

We had a very interesting week in late May, where three different drivers and cars came before us with little clue as to how their respective push button start models worked. A better argument for standardization has never been made.

First, we met a young woman who had recently bought a pre-owned push-button start Hyundai. Most important to the story is that the car came from a used car store that is part of a national chain – CarMax. A short time after the purchase, she found herself with a dead key fob, or remote control, battery and could not start the car. To her credit, she did figure out how to get in.


She then made a very natural choice: she called the dealer where she had purchased the car. To their infinite credit, they sent someone to her with a new battery for the fob! The store had no idea how to start the car. Clearly, any pre-owned push button start model from any manufacturer is likely to leave a store without the driver ever being shown a back-up entry and start process.

To be clear, to us at DashboardSymbols.com, this is a safety issue!


Next, we came across a newly engaged couple. She is in a near-new lease from Nissan, and was unaware that a metal key existed in her fob, or how to start the car if the fob battery failed. This is an issue principally in dealers whose inventory is dominated by traditional key start models, and it extends from sales through service.

Meanwhile, her fiancé had just given a first generation Toyota Prius by his grandmother. He also had no idea there was a mechanical key in the fob. Further, a bit of discussion enlightened him on why only one of the three key fobs he had actually worked. Does anyone believe a grandmother was likely to explain the intricacies of a push button start back up plan? Or that she even knew of it?

All of this points first and foremost to standardization. Back up entry and start procedures should NOT differ from model to model or manufacturer to manufacturer. Whatever these processes may be, if they are the same, it is far more likely that the driving population can and will become familiar with them.

Instead, DashboardSymbols.com hosts some 50 different back-up start procedures.

The same holds for any advanced system. The fact that the pages of DashboardSymbols.com holds 12 different acronyms for stability control systems is simply unacceptable. Drivers cannot possibly be expected to know them, and to be able to respond properly to problems with this system.


At DashboardSymbols.com, we developed two Mobile Apps to help drivers with the most common questions asked of service departments everywhere: “What is this light on my dashboard?” And “My car says ‘Key Not Detected’. How do I get into and start my push-button start car?” With these two apps, we have your back. Check them out here.


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