Push Start vs. Traditional Car Keys: Which Is Better for You?

David Davidoff, company owner after a successful job at a client

Cars have come a long way since the days of Henry Ford. Thanks to ever-advancing technology they have only become more efficient, smoother, and filled with even more user-friendly options. One feature that has remained a standard over the decades however has been car keys. Back in the 1910s when car keys were first introduced, they were for the doors only and didn’t start the engine until 1949 when Chrysler spearheaded the technology. It was then that they became known as “car keys”. 

And while car keys are still used today, they aren’t the only option. Thanks to technology, push-start engines have given drivers an all-new convenience. But is push-start technology all it’s cracked up to be? Should it replace traditional keys? Let’s take a look at which one is better for you.

Understanding Traditional Car Keys:

A traditional mechanical car key works in two ways. It is used to unlock the doors of your car and used in the ignition to start the vehicle. Simply insert the key and turn it. This same key may also be used to unlock the trunk and an interior glove compartment if applicable. The key is unique to each vehicle, so you don’t have to worry about someone having a duplicate key.  

There are also transponder keys, which feature newer technology than mechanical options. These have a low-level signal that will speak to the car’s receiver. Each transponder has a unique serial number, again making it difficult for it to be copied or broken into.

Advantages of Traditional Car Keys

Disadvantages of Traditional Car Keys

Cheap to replace or cut a spare key

They can easily be copied

Simple to use

They have limited functionality

Reliable, you can count on them to work

They can be easy to lose

No microchips or technology that can act up

They can be hotwired by a thief

Durable and long-lasting

Both the barrel and key can wear out over time

Difficult for thieves to break in

They could jam or snap in the lock

The key barrel is easy and relatively cheap to replace

Older keys from before the year 2,000 could often open the door of other cards of the same model.

Understanding Push-Start Ignition Systems:

The push-start ignition system has become very popular in the past decade with more and more vehicles offering it as a standard feature. This is a keyless system that relies on a fob that sends a low-frequency signal to your vehicle. While you don’t need to put the fob in the ignition, it does need to be in the vehicle for it to start. They can also have keyless entry, giving drivers total convenience. 

Advantages of Push-Start Systems:

Disadvantages of Push-Start Systems:

Very convenient and fast to use

The fob is pricey to replace if it’s lost

It’s almost impossible to accidentally lock keys in the car

The battery can die on the fob which means you need a traditional key to gain access

It gives drivers the option to remote start their vehicle

Drivers can sometimes forget to turn off the car since there is no key

They can be very hard to break into, as you need the fob

Potential for hacking by thieves


Comparing the Technologies:

When comparing the technologies of each, there is no question that push-starts vehicles are more technologically advanced. The tech behind them is newer, and more impressive, and was initially only offered on high-end vehicles. But for some drivers, the newest technology isn’t a big deal.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Push Start and Traditional Car Keys:

If you’re shopping around for a vehicle and trying to decide between the technology, a few factors to keep in mind are:

  • Purchase price of the car (push-start may increase the price)
  • Replacement Cost of the fob
  • How important security is on the vehicle
  • Do you lose keys often?
  • How convenient do you want the system to be?

As you can see, there is no right or wrong answer instead it comes down to personal preference.

Who Is Push-Start Ignition Right For?

Again, there is no blanket answer regarding who push-start vehicles are right for, but in some scenarios, it will be the better option.

A family with young children who always need to travel with a list of items may like the convenient push start offers. It also means that the doors will automatically unlock when you are approaching the vehicle, so you’re not shuffling around in a bag, purse, or pocket for keys. 

As a business owner with a fleet of vehicles, you can go either way. Remember, traditional keys will be much cheaper to replace or copy rather than expensive fob devices.

For the technology enthusiast, push-start and keyless entry is likely a must-have. 

Then for the budget-conscious driver, traditional keys will be a more cost-effective option.

Future of Car Ignition Technologies:

And it’s not just push-start ignitions that are shaping the future of car technology. There are also newer even more highly-advanced offerings out there. Take for example the biometric ignition systems. This relies on software data that recognizes the individual’s fingerprint. Without that specific fingerprint, the car won’t start. You can see how this would offer much higher levels of security as you can’t make a copy of a fingerprint.

Smartphone-based car access and ignition are also becoming increasingly popular. This one is all about convenience, but be sure to factor in potential security breaches wherein someone can hack into your phone and get your information.

Then there are autonomous vehicles, which society, in general, is getting closer to. Right now it is only found in test vehicles, but how far out are these vehicles for the general public? The answer may shock and surprise you with experts suggesting it could be as early as 2035 they are widely available. These vehicles will have their own security and ignition technology to bring to the table.

Making the Decision Isn’t Always Simple:

The fact is that in the debate of push start vs traditional car keys, there is no simple answer. It comes down to what you consider to be convenient, how set you are in your ways when it comes to car keys, and the level of security you’re looking for. Regardless of how you feel about traditional car keys, push-start cars are the future and it’s likely going to take over keys at some point. It’s almost a question of how soon are you willing to embrace the new reality of car ignition technology.

Need any further advice or assistance on any of your automotive security needs? Contact us here at Quickly Locksmith Miami at (305) 984-9922.

David Davidof

David Davidof

David Davidof is the founder & owner of Quickly Locksmith. The business has grown from strength to strength to become Miami’s go-to provider for Locksmith and Security services. Whilst the company has grown, the founding ethos has remained the same - Helping people in emergency situations and giving them the feeling they are safe.

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