Can keyless ignition be "undone"?

In looking for a new car we’ve been coming across several with keyless ignitions. For a variety of reasons we would prefer to stick with the keyed variety. We especially liked the Nissans but were told they are all of the keyless type.

My sister has a Mercedes and said her keyless ignition button pops right off to reveal a keyed ignition, which she has used. Further, Mercedes volunteered this information to her. A friend with a Prius discovered the same thing.

When I phoned Nissan today the salesman was puzzled and said that no, their cars didn’t have this capability. Any thoughts?


Well, Acuras have keyless ignition, but you can stick the key fob in a receptacle next to the steering wheel if you want. It’s not necessary though. If you’re shopping for a “nicer” car it’s going to be increasingly difficult to find ones without these kinds of features.

You need to buy a lower level of Nissan if you want one that still uses a key.
Sentra, Versa, Rogue, and Cube, for examples.

I have owned an '07 Nissan Altima since new, back in Dec '06, and it has been flawless.
I can’t think of any logical reasons why you are against the system.

And there is a physical key to actually gain access to the car in the keyfob, but there is no way to use the physical key to start the car. You need to have the keyfob inside the cabin of the car to start the car.

Makes for a better anti-theft system than having a key slot in the car that someone can jam a screwdriver into, and drive away with your car.


I can’t think of any logical reasons why you are against the system.

I doubt I’ll ever buy a car with keyless ignition, for purely ideological reasons: I find it absurd to pay money to introduce an additional single-point failure into a mechanical system.

Remember that Murphy’s Law becomes inviolate, given a sufficiently large number of iterations: “Anything that can go wrong, (eventually) will go wrong.”

The thing is, the push-button start isn’t really more complicated than the key start systems on almost all cars now anyway. Even with a key start, most cars have to establish an RF link with the key due to anti-theft systems. If that like doesn’t work, the car won’t start.

I am additionally against “chipped” keys.

It never ceases to blow my mind how car makers introduce “complexity for complexity’s sake” as added features, and the public laps it up, never considering how such complexity impacts maintenance costs and/or reliability.

I’d be much more impressed if an automaker touted “fully-independant dual CDI” or “dual, fully-redundant timing belts”–at least I’d know they had their hearts in the right place!

They introduced it because most of the public wants it. It gives them lower insurance rates and maybe makes them sleep better. The car makers don’t add anything unless the car buyers want it or the government requires it.
If enough people wanted cars the way you want them, then they would make and sell them.

Funny, nobody ever asked me.

My Mazda’s keyless system still has a place to put your key on the steering column. Instead of a push button start, it uses a plastic piece in lieu of an actual key that you can remove an insert the physical key into

I can understand not wanting the key-less thing. My brother got into his Mercedes something or other, pushed the button and the car started, no problem, right? Upon reaching his destination, he went for the fob to lock the doors. Now he couldn’t start the car to get home. He left the key-fob thing on the kitchen table at home. Apparently it was still close enough to allow the car to start. Very costly for a cab back to his house and back to the car, about a 50 mile round trip. On the bright side he has never forgotten that damn fob again!!

Nobody ever asked me either, but I didn’t expect them to. I only expect them to survey a statistically significant number of people. I don’t expect them to survey every person in the USA.

If they did ask me, my response would be that I have a pacemaker, so I choose to limit my exposure to radio frequency signals whenever possible, so no thank you, I will take a normal key.

Tardis makes a great point though about lower insurance rates. Most people seem to like the fact that anti-theft systems like these mean significant discounts on insurance premiums.

They were introduced because, shockingly, people were stealing cars. GM cars of the 70’s and 80’s were quite easy to steal. Having a transponder chip in the key means that the fuel pump (provided it’s electric) won’t get power unless an matching key is used. This is a good thing IMHO.

Keyless ignition is nothing new. I had keyless ignition on my 1954 Buick. The ignition switch had 3 position: off, on, lock. I rarely used the key–I just used on and off. All I had to do was flip the switch from off to on, step on the accelerator and away I went. The starter was combined with the accelerator–one pressed down on the accelerator, the car started and a vacuum switch then locked out the starter motor. There wasn’t even a button to push.

chipped keys are not there for complexity’s sake, unless you mean that it makes stealing the car more complex, since you’d have to rewire the fuel pump or get a tow truck first. Yes, they’re more expensive, but they do serve a useful function.

Once chipped keys were in there, someone realized that, since the chip is now a much stronger anti-theft measure than the key is, what’s the point of requiring the key? Keys are a failure point, actually. A worn or bent key may not start the car, and the lock cylinder can jam or otherwise break, meaning you can’t start the car. Since we’ve introduced a fail point in order to render the vehicle harder to steal, it only makes sense that we remove a fail point that is no longer serving a useful purpose.

I have one of those faux bungee/rock climbing clips(about $1 at Lowe’s in the hardware section) for my key ring and the fob is on that, along with my house key, so I always have it on me. My car sits about 10 feet from the house and I cannot use the keyless entry for it even though it’s right on the desk