Trainer's Guide

More and more frequently, rescuers are discovering that the ignition system of the crash-damaged vehicle they are working on is of the keyless ignition design. Being able to locate the keyless ignition button or switch and then knowing how to shut down the keyless-ignition system is critical in the early stages of a vehicle incident. This University of Extrication Trainer’s Guide serves as a quick visual review of possible styles of keyless ignition systems, where their interior locations may be, and how to effectively shut down these keyless ignition systems.


“The number of 2011 models offering keyless ignition has more than quadrupled to 189 different makes and models. In the 2006 model year, there were only 44 vehicle models that offered keyless ignitions.”

—“Keyless Ignition Presents More Safety Concerns for Car Owners,” Edmunds AutoObserver, Feb. 25, 2011



Photos by Ron Moore



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All keyless ignition system start/stop buttons are located to the right of the steering column. This typical location is clearly shown on the instrument panel to the right of the column.



If the keyless ignition button is not on the instrument panel to the right of the column, check the left side of the center console for the power button.


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The keyless ignition system may have a slot below the start button for the key fob to be inserted into or the key fob may be in your patient’s pocket or purse, completely out of sight.


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A typical keyless entry and keyless engine start fob is shown being inserted into a receiver slot in the instrument panel.


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This vehicle’s keyless ignition system consists of a toggle-type switch that is illuminated when the ignition is on and goes dark when the ignition is shut down.


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The keyless ignition vehicle STARTING procedure:

1. Key fob within vehicle’s reception range (referred to as the “bubble”)

2. Brake pedal must be depressed

3. Shift lever must be in park

4. Press the start or power button once or twice, depending on the vehicle’s make and model

5. Indicator typically illuminates when ignition is on


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Responder keyless ignition vehicle SHUTDOWN procedure

(even if the vehicle is running and in gear):

1. One long, two-second steady push of the keyless ignition button, or

2. Three short pushes in rapid succession, depending on the vehicle’s make and model

3. Keyless ignition button indicator light goes dark

NOTE: Disconnecting or “double cutting” the battery cables before powering the ignition system down may not shut the ignition system or engine down as long as the alternator is charging.

If access to the start button is not possible or if there is truly a malfunction of the keyless ignition system, responders must resort to locating the fuse or relay for the fuel pump or locate the fuse for the power train control module of the vehicle and remove the fuses.