Safety of cars’ keyless entry and how to disengage ignition in case of emergency

Featured Posts, How-To | January 29th, 2010 by 19
112 0806 04z+2008 BMW 135i+start stop button

In the next few sentences, we will describe how the keyless entry technology works in a BMW and how to disengage the ignition in case …

In the next few sentences, we will describe how the keyless entry technology works in a BMW and how to disengage the ignition in case of emergency.

BMW uses a ‘throttle-by-wire’, like a lot of other manufacturers, the gas pedal is no longer mechanically connected to a throttle butterfly. It basically is used as an input device to the engine management software that controls fuel and air settings for the engine. But given the recent spate of problems facing one manufacturer and unintended acceleration it might be good to know what to do if a ghost gets in the machine.

On BMWs with the Engine Start/Stop button, you hit the button repeatedly while underway to shut down the engine (about three times – stop pressing it when the engine shuts down). It was one of the first things I learned to do when I got my BMW.

112 0806 04z+2008 BMW 135i+start stop button 655x409

If you experience unintended acceleration, ‘DO NOT PANIC’, apply the brakes smoothly – but forcefully enough to help scrub speed. Move over to the lane nearest the shoulder as soon as possible. Take the transmission out of gear (into neutral, or ‘N’) when off onto the shoulder. Shut the engine down. Shutting the engine down while on the road can result in difficult steering and less power assist for the brakes. Once the engine is off, turn on the emergency flashers and take a deep breath.

Now call for assistance.

Or you can try to determine if there is something interfering with the accelerator pedal. If so resolve it and continue. One piece of advice, practice shutting your car down while underway in a deserted parking lot. That will help if unintended acceleration happens at an inopportune moment in the real world.

19 responses to “Safety of cars’ keyless entry and how to disengage ignition in case of emergency”

  1. Alvin Wong says:

    Good to see you guys covering this topic, especially with Toyota taking a PR nuke to the face.

  2. John says:

    LOL, i’ve got keyless entry, but never thought about a problem like this. I’m not the type that practices things like this either. Come on, America is suppossed to be the land of the brave, isn’t it? With all the precautions taken in just normal everyday life, in Europe we get the feeling more and more that America once WAS the land of the brave, but wussification has set in a long time ago :(

    Think about putting a text onto everything to warn people about anything. Where’s the people’s responsibility. Yeah, if you order a coffee it is supposed to be hot, so why put a warning for hot contents on a cup? If you look in a mirror the distance can be shorter than it appears to be. That is learned on drivingschool and shouldn’t be engraved in every mirror in America (i’m so glad they don’t it overhere). I once bought an American car. The first thing i did was pull off all the unnecessary warningstickers, and i had a whole bunch of them!

    One thing the article doesn’t mention is what to do if the electronics don’t react to the start/stop-button at all and the engine revs up to the limiter …

    If you don’t have the natural reaction of hitting the brakes when your car accelerates without you pressing the pedal, you shouldn’t be driving a car in the first place, but stay at home on the couch! If you have to think about such a reaction, i would state the same thing: stay on the couch, get yourself a bicycle or get a cab, but stay away from the steeringwheel!

    If you are the panic-over-nothing-type you shouldn’t be driving a vehicle too! Again: stay on the couch and enjoy the world through the internet or something, but don’t endanger yourself and others. All around the world meals are served on your doorstep, so stay inside (the sun is pretty dangerous too, you know) and let yourself be served by normal human beings. But don’t ever, ever consider driving anything that has an engine and will go faster than 3 mph.

    • atr_hugo says:

      Good point on the ‘if the electronics won’t let you’. I think at that point you gotta get the door open and bail. What’s the German equivalent of Christine, Kristina? ; -)

      The problem is people do panic, they don’t understand that if you stand on the brakes the car will stop (as long as the brakes are functional ; -). They go through a McDonalds drive-thru and wonder why the coffee is so hot, so they sue.

      Ugh – but, on a brighter note. the Airbag stickers on the cheap vinyl sun visors of the 1er came right off with a little lacquer thinner. ; -)

      I try to do stupid things like shutting the car down while underway, just to see if it can be done. You should’ve seen what I was able to do with a Cadillac XLR press vehicle once, actually go down the road with the roof in ‘upright preying mantis’ position. I have no idea how they allowed that to happen. ; -)

    • XC says:

      As interesting and witty your comment is, you have to admit the diversity of people who drive cars. I personally regard myself as quick at the wheel (when possible) and fast reacting driver; but there are people with a lot less skills at the wheel and who probably won’t react as fast or skillfully you and me think we might. I don’t want to imagine a situation like this in front of a school full of children or at a parking lot in a mall…

    • jrs says:

      The reason we have all the warning “stickers” isn’t because we’ve wussified or are inherently stupid, but we have a legal/liability system that assumes for every incident/accident there is a party who has been injured and another who’s responsible. Obviously, something s**t simplyu happens. Warning stickers don’t eliminate the assumption of responsibility, but they can reduce and minimize damages rewarded. The McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit, while used as an example of the “frivolous suit” was in actuality anything but. The coffee was found to have been served at approximately 190 degree F and caused third degree burns resulting in the need for skin grafts and a year of treatment. Serving a beverage at that temperature was irresponsible. If the incident were to happen again, with warning labels in place, the verdict would most like remain the same. We are all ultimately responsible for our own actions, but that also includes selling a product that sets someone else up for a fall.

  3. oneill says:

    ^ I couldn’t agree more!

  4. Shawn says:

    Prudent article Hugo – and thanks, Doug, for the suggestion.

  5. atr_hugo says:

    Just reading this on the recall ( ) – trying to read between the lines to get an idea of the cause. It may be mechanical. A ‘feedback’ system, the parts that provide pedal ‘feel’ , may be causing the problems as the pedal assembly ages in the cars.

  6. I.HATE.HER.ALOT says:

    I wonder if this would work on my Infiniti. Either way its good to know. That toyota fiasco has a lot of ppl nervous.

  7. Matt says:

    On BMW models equipped with Start-Stop button, a “long push” of 2 seconds will also shut down the engine while the vehicle is moving. Furthermore, all BMW models with drive-by-wire accelerator (since the 1989 750iL) have incorporated “fail-safe” operation as a design element. Fail safe means when the vehicle is moving, if the vehicle detects firm application of the brakes it will enable the brakes to override the accelerator so that the driver may safely stop the vehicle. On BMWs equipped with key-type ignition, turning the key to Off or Accessory (or “0” or “1” positions, respectively) will stop the engine without locking the steering wheel. The steering wheel lock doesn’t engage until you remove the key.

  8. atr_hugo says:

    Matt thanks for the update! Good info.

  9. Artmic says:

    good to know pressing teh start button a few times will shut down the engine, i got the comfort access and was wondering about that this week lol :)

  10. Great info here. I never new about this feature. Thanks Hugo and bmwblog!

  11. says:

    I need advice and no one at my BMW dealership knows the answer. I have a 2007 525XI. What is the three short beeps followed by one longer beep that I periodically hear? Don’t know if it’s related to my bluetooth / iPhone or what? Thanks for any input.

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