BRACK: Have you faced problems with your keyless auto not starting?

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher |  Ah, modern science!  How many wondrous ways does it help us today.

Most of the time.

Most  of the drivers on our roadways have for their entire driving life, when they got into an automobile, inserted a key into the ignition, twisted it, and the car’s engine came to life.  Routine.

Well, that routine has been halted for some of us who have automobiles from the last several years. No longer is a key required, now with the keyless-entry. This system has several good properties, freeing you from having to search for your keys.

Yeah. Right.

Trouble is, habits are hard to break. While your mind knows that you no longer only need the smart “key” (without a key) on your person, or for women, in their purse, what happens automatically when you walk to your car about every time?

For me, it’s putting my hand in my pocket to pull out the key, which by then I realize I don’t need. But habits are hard to break. Now I simply touch the locked car, and the door can be opened.  I push a button, and viola! The engine starts. No key.

Yet one nagging thought comes to mind every time I get in the car. “What if the car doesn’t start when I punch that button?”

Modern science has carried me through 19,000 miles with this keyless automobile, it starting every time. So, no worries, right?

Wrong.

It happened one day last week. Punch the button, the radio came on, the lights came on, but the engine did not.  Punch again. Nothing.   It’s what I had always dreaded.

With the lights on steady, and the radio playing, obviously the battery was not dead. No matter how many times I punched the button, no start.

So time to call my local mechanic, about two miles away. “Yeah, I’ve always worried about that,” he said. “There’s nothing I have here that can help you. Best to call the dealer.”

So a call to Mike Hayes, about 18 miles away. He heard the problem, talked to a specialist, and advised: “Get out of the car, lock the door, give it about a minute, and try again.”  (Previously I had been in and out of the car a few times, but each time I punched the START button, nothing.)

So, returning to the car, the door unlocked perfectly, I pushed the button, and ……what?  The car started.

Mike had explained that the problem might be the computer system needing to reboot.  Apparently getting out and locking the car does that.  So I drove away relieved.

Then I got to thinking what the computer technicians told me when I retired, I asked what I was going to do without them, since they often easily repaired a reluctant computer. Their advice: “About 95 percent of the time, when we fix your computer, we simply turn it off, wait a few seconds, and turn it back on.  We’re not all that wise, but that works most of the time.”

And yes, alone in my office in Technology Park without computer support, switching on and off has usually worked.

So, now we find that if your keyless automobile ever fails to start, recognize what has happened.  The automobile is heavily dependent on several small computers in your automobile. When something fails, go back to the basics, switch the auto off, get  out, lock the car, and wait a while. Then it ought to work.

Didn’t know that you were driving a computer, did you?