10 of the world's biggest car makers sued over "deadly" keyless ignition system

By midian182 ยท 35 replies
Aug 27, 2015
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  1. Ten of the world’s biggest automobile manufacturers are being sued by US consumers who claim they hid the risks involved with carbon monoxide poisoning in over 5 million keyless ignition vehicles. A “defect” they say has resulted in the deaths of 13 people.

    According to the complaint, which was filed in Los Angeles federal court on Wednesday, many customers believed that if they left their vehicles running after taking the electronic key fobs with them, the engines would shut off automatically. However, the vehicles continue running and produce carbon dioxide, which the 28 named plaintiffs said can have “deadly” results for those who inhale it, including when vehicles are left in garages attached to homes. They also said the defect reduces their vehicles’ resale value.

    A keyless ignition lets a driver start a vehicle by pushing an on-off button, instead of inserting a key, once the vehicle detects a nearby electronic fob. They have been available in the US since at least 2003. The lawsuit claims the carmakers have long known the risks of the system, yet deceived consumers by marketing their vehicles as safe. The plaintiffs say the 13 deaths could have been averted by installing a feature to automatically turn off unattended engines, and that GM and Ford even took steps to patent a shut-off feature.

    The 10 named defendants in the case are: BMW, including Mini; Daimler's Mercedes Benz; Fiat Chrysler; Ford Motor Co; General Motors Co; Honda, including Acura; Hyundai, including Kia; Nissan, including Infiniti; Toyota, including Lexus; and Volkswagen, including Bentley.

    The lawsuit seeks class-action status and an injunction requiring automakers to install automatic shut-off features on all existing and future vehicles sold with keyless ignitions. It also seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Ford was the only defendant to comment on the lawsuit, saying it takes customer safety “very seriously” and it’s keyless ignition system had proven “safe and reliable.”

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  2. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,890   +1,224

    As an owner of a car with one of these keyless ignitions I find this lawsuit completely cRAzy.

    yes, the car doesn't shut off if you don't push the off button. I'm actually shocked that people smart enough to drive don't understand that your car will stay on if you leave it on. Darwin awards all around? Or am I being insensitive?

    I like that it doesn't shut off... if you have people in the car and you have to run back in the house, you have to take the keys to unlock the house. It's nice to not have to turn the car off so those waiting can keep the A/C or heat on. The car does beep at you, but that's expected.

    Think of the alternatives.... the key fob is required to be in the car for it to run.. what if it's right next to the car? Like if you drop your keys on the ground or something. Should your car turn off when you're halfway down the block? that sure wouldn't be safe. Should it turn off only if you're stopped? Like at a red light? Or should it turn off only if you put the car in park? Probably the last one, but I can't imagine having your car randomly shut off is ever safer than letting the driver control when their car is started and stopped.
  3. Hasbean

    Hasbean TS Booster Posts: 112   +29

    It just seems like some people can't take responsibility for their own inadequacies.

    "What! your coffee was hot when they gave it to you? Who would have thought that!"

    Because some nimrods can't apply common sense, we all have to be treated like knuckle draggers.
    wastedkill and 9Nails like this.
  4. BrianMontanye

    BrianMontanye TS Booster Posts: 62   +36

    Absolutely agree. Who knew that if you left your fossil fuel burning vehicle running that it would produce a deadly gas. /rollseyes. I am all about consumer safety but someone needs to start taking responsibility for their own actions.
    wastedkill and 9Nails like this.
  5. Hexic

    Hexic TS Maniac Posts: 333   +165

    And the state of the lawsuit is... California. Go figure.
  6. THSullivan

    THSullivan TS Rookie

    I to have to agree, what a bunch of stupid people, try reading the manual that came with the car. I have a BMW listed in the suit. I paid extra to have comfort assist, this is the feature were the FOB doesn't have to be inserted to start the car. Just leave the keys in your pocket and press the button. I to have went back to the house and used my keys while the car was running with the AC on because my wife was in the car. Very handy in a HOT weather! There is a song from the Eagles - Hell Freezes Over CD, the first track "Get Over It" applies here so much. Listen to it and see if you agree. I sure hope they lose big time.
  7. branhama

    branhama TS Rookie

    A lawsuit because you are unable to turn off your own car? Who in their right mind would put their life in the hands of my car "should" turn off if I get far enough away with my keyfob. I have had a keyless vehicle for a few years now and I would have never expected my car to turn off like this. This is a feature for a vehicle and in no way a requirement. If you are un-happy that your vehicle does not automatically turn off when you leave it "DO NOT GET A KEYLESS CAR".

    In no way should any manufacturer above be required to change anything in regards to the keyless system. If they would like to take suggestions and work on those, fine, but a lawsuit? Someone needs to find a job and stop trying to sue everyone for the smallest of boo-hoos, this world is getting pathetic and full of people whom believe they are special and the world should revolve around them.
    Selden likes this.
  8. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,147   +915

    I'm trying really hard to defend these people and have a comeback to the comments above but, I literally cannot think of a single thing, literally impossible to defend such stupidity, this surely should get laughed out of court?
    Arris likes this.
  9. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Evangelist Posts: 925   +284

    Wow... just wow, how can people who can afford newer cars that have this system be so stupid? It just does not make any sense to me at all.
  10. ChrisH1

    ChrisH1 TS Booster Posts: 68   +46

    As Larry Niven said, 'think of it as evolution in action'.
  11. cmbjive

    cmbjive TS Booster Posts: 777   +138

    In other news, there is a lawsuit pending claiming that auto manufacturers knew that when you inserted the key into the ignition and turned the car on, the car stayed on. More details at 5:30.
  12. fimbles

    fimbles TS Evangelist Posts: 1,185   +208

    I guess this would refer to the key free system that unlocks your car for you as you approach and locks it after you leave, Rather than just the key free ignition.

    If that was the case you could stupidly assume the car would turn itself off after it had locked itself.

    Still a money driven lawsuit though.
  13. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,310   +651

    If I were a judge, I'd throw about 3/4 of class action lawsuits out. It's not our fault that some people are complete *****S. The only people that make ANY money in a class action suit, is the law firms.
    Too bad common sense got thrown out the window. If you aren't smart enough to PUSH THE OFF button when you get out of your car, well, that is Darwinism at work!
  14. Selden

    Selden TS Rookie

    I just submitted a class action Darwin Award nomination for these unfortunates. It's rare that we get 13 people taking themselves out of the gene pool. Anybody too stupid to turn off a parked car in a garage shouldn't be driving, so we are all safer.
  15. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,728   +3,703

    Forgive me if I am wrong, but doesn't the button state "Start" and "Stop"? Meaning the user is lazy and didn't bother shutting down this production plant. Basically the same thing as getting out of the car and leaving your keys in the ignition with the engine running.

    If something happened to this "nearby electronic fob", I would at least hope I could get off the highway before the automobile stopped functioning. Somehow I don't think this idi-ot is thinking the whole thing through. Asking for this "nearby electronic fob" to stay in contact with the car, makes your car's functionality dependent on it's functionality (not just startup proceedures).
  16. pwrjunky

    pwrjunky TS Rookie

    I'm tired of cars that have "features" that people can't disable, or complain because it's not "automatic".
    The worst, and most dangerous, in my opinion is DRLs (Daytime Running Lights).
    My list is long, and detailed, so bear with me... (sorry in advance).

    Although headlights that are on during the daytime might increase some visibility, there are several reasons I do not have DRL's on my cars (or drive with lights on during the day):

    1. I drive a motorcycle, and the original purpose of "daytime running lights" was for motorcycles to stand out/stand apart from cars. With cars' lights on all the time, motorcycles no longer stand out. They blend in. Now your cars' lights are a hazard!
    2. They increase the cost of replacement parts. Bulbs are not always cheap or easy to replace. Plus there's an additional switch (or more, depending on the vehicle). If you want to drive around with your lights on, there's already a switch for that. Why complicate it by adding another switch? Do you have two switches to turn on your home lights (where you need to 'flip' both to make one light work? No.)
    3. When I pull in my driveway at night, I turn my lights off as a courtesy to my neighbors, because my headlights shine directly into their living room/couch. If the lights are on a sensor (some vehicles have this), then as long as the car is running and it's the slightest bit dark,(driving or not), the lights are on.
    4. If lights are on all the time, then you can't "signal" to another car if their lights are inadvertently off. Or at a 4 way intersection (if they aren't paying attention).
    5. Some people like to have their car started before they drive off (let it warm up in the winter). Theft is now a concern if you can't turn off the lights (especially if it's dark out, now someone knows the car is running for sure!)
    6. I have seen it happen, when a car has "DRLs" and they are just barely on, and the driver thinks that their headlights are on, and they drive around. Since the headlights are barely on (some models, mind you), the tail lights are off completely, causing another hazard.
    7. If you can't see a regular car, in broad daylight, without their lights on, you don't need a license. There is absolutely no reason to have lights on a semi-truck (Daytime lights, during the day).
    8. I own the car, and should be able to turn off what I want, when I want. Imagine if this were the attitude towards windshield wipers: "Let's have the wipers on all the time, just in case there's any dirt or something on the windshield".. How stupid is that? I don't need someone else telling me that I need to have lights on during the day.
    9. This might sound far-fetched, but honestly, there used to be some pride in having your lights on when driving in a funeral procession. Call me old fashioned, but if you see a string of cars with all their lights on, it used to be a significant display of honor.
    10. Some cars' DRLs are the bright lights, at 50%. When that car comes up over a hill, the glare is temporarily blinding (because of the angle of the light). This also may indicate that an oncoming car appears further than it really is (an illusion of depth), thus giving the person that is about to pull out, less time, and possibly cause an accident.

    One time, someone argued with me, by saying "well, if my lights are on during the daytime, you can see my car from two miles away".. I laughed at them and said: "so you'd rather someone pay attention, (get distracted) by a car that's two miles away, instead of the cars directly in their vicinity.

    Now by all means, if you think you need your car's headlights on, when there's a huge ball of fire in the sky, illuminating half of the entire Earth all at one time, then by all means, drive around with your lights on.

    Plus, if it were really safer, don't you think they'd require any race cars to have "running lights" of some sort? I don't see DRLs on NASCAR, do you? It's not like headlights are made of glass very often (Jeep/Hummer I think still have actual glass), so you can't say that's an issue.

    From what I read on the "studies", many of them appear to be biased, or flawed at best. I don't see how forcing a driver to have their lights on ALL THE TIME, will have more positive impacts, than negative ones. I listed TEN issues I have with them, and there's only "one" positive impact of having DRLs on a car, and that's the POSSIBILITY of an increase in reaction time; which has never been actually proven. So although there are people that will argue this until the end of time, I find that putting the lives of every motorcyclist in danger is far too costly for a "chance" that you "could" eliminate an automobile collision. People simply need to pay attention, and there's absolutely no gimmick on a car that will replace that. That's an absolute fact. Until every vehicle is completely automated, you will never eliminate human error. Having DRLs on your car is a hazard, no matter how you argue it.

    Thanks for reading.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  17. kanehi

    kanehi TS Rookie Posts: 42   +6

    With a key ignition you naturally take out the key and the engine turns off. If you push an ignition button it's also natural to push it to turn it off. Read the owner's manual! I guess they have to make the cars ***** proof for *****s but then they shouldn't be driving in the first place.
  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,020   +2,548

    Well boyz & girlz, once upon a time there were industries in the country, where people made things, where ores were converted to iron and steel. People didn't write senseless time wasting computer games, or spyware apps for Android to earn their living.

    There's really nothing left of value in this society, just Uber drivers to take you to see your personal injury lawyer.

    Besides just face it, some people can't do anything right, even kill themselves with a running car in a closed room. If they would have gotten that right, their estate could be in court making fools of themselves instead of them.

    OK, so let's take Cranky's "LAT" test. (Litigation Aptitude Test):
    Suppose you just copped a bag of the best crack ever, and in your hurry to get down with it, you left a gas burner on the stove open but not lit . Who would you sue should your section 8 house blow up under these circumstances, the gas company, the government for paying for the house in the first place, or possibly the drug cartel and dealer who sold you the crack? (*) (See answer below).

    That just jogged my memory, there are three classes of people left in the US not two, Uber drivers, personal injury lawyers, and drug addicts.

    @pwrjunky Here's the ecosystem on car safety equipment. The more the manufacturers get sued for safety, the more campaign contributions the car makers lobby gives to their congressmen, who then legislate more required safety equipment onto automobiles. Then, the automakers in an effort to "cover the cost of added safety equipment", proceed make a tidy profit selling it to you, especially now that it's REQUIRED..! See how that works?

    (*) Sue all parties involved, and the wastrels who spawned them.(y)
  19. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +903

    It doesn't matter what you think or believe, it needs to have a failsafe, period.
  20. Yes, Darwin awards all around...you insensitive person! :p
  21. pwrjunky

    pwrjunky TS Rookie

    Daytime running lights are not legally required in the USA. They are in Canada, but not here. I know how the system works, I'm just pointing out yet another useless and potentially hazardous "feature". It's more of a hazard than a feature, especially when taking the lives of motorcyclists in the equation.
    When I started riding a motorcycle 20 years ago, the first thing I thought when I saw any headlights at all, was "motorcycle". That mindset is no longer true, even for me, as I try to zone out cars when watching for motorcycles.
  22. pwrjunky

    pwrjunky TS Rookie

    Yes! They should build a feature that reads the minds of the individuals, to know if they intend to just leave, or if they plan to return to their car after they shut the garage door with it running. And then, if that doesn't work, we can just install a button for them to turn off... oh wait... nevermind.
    agb81 likes this.
  23. pwrjunky

    pwrjunky TS Rookie

    One other note.. I find it actually amusing when car manufacturers put DRLs on a car, then put another switch to control the DRLs, so if you want them off, you have to turn a switch. It really should be the other way around. Because after all, if you want your lights on, you can just turn the switch.
    I have actually walked out of a car sale because they refused to disable the DRLs on the car. I simply took my money to another dealer, and bought a different car.
    Why shouldn't I be in control of a car that I own?
  24. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,020   +2,548

    But then, if not for *******, who would populate our cities" Who would buy these "faulty vehicles? If it weren't for ******* who do LEASE these faulty cars, the American industry would stagnate and fail, tens of thousands of other less fortunate ****** would lose their jobs, and our ******* of a president would have to print more money than he can count, to bail the iauto industry out. Nah, that would never happen, would it?:oops:
  25. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +903

    How about the same technology that it uses for starting it when it's X meters from the car, when the key gets out of a certain range it shuts down, it doesn't take to be Einstein to figure a logic solution.

    Now you made me think of a different solution, when a smarty like you comes into techspot to be "smart" to have a feature to read minds and lock themselves out of posting, that would be awesomely neat.

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