Keyless ignition systems are available on many newer vehicles in the United States. They allow drivers to start their vehicles by pressing a button while an electric key fob remains in their purse or pocket. If the fob is not detected in the vehicle, the vehicle will not start. While this can be a very convenient feature, a new class action lawsuit alleges that it also contains a deadly defect.

How Keyless Ignition Systems Could Cause Driver and Passenger Deaths

This new lawsuit claims that keyless ignition system defects caused 13 deaths and many injuries from carbon monoxide poisoning. The problem is that consumers mistakenly believe that their vehicles shut off when they remove the key fob from the vehicle’s vicinity. However, the vehicles could continue to run, with deadly results if the vehicle is in an enclosed area, such as a garage. The engine would emit poisonous carbon monoxide, which could spread to the victim’s home, killing or seriously injuring the driver and his family.

The lawsuit claims that 10 automobile manufacturers concealed the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in five million vehicles. The auto companies being sued include:

  • General Motors
  • Fiat Chrysler
  • Toyota
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Nissan
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen
  • Mercedes Benz
  • BMW

In addition, several of these manufacturers’ other brands, including Infiniti, Kia, and Acura, have also been sued.

The lawsuit alleges that at least five million vehicles will continue to run no matter how far the driver and the key fob are from the vehicle. Because the vehicle engines are so quiet, consumers do not realize the engine has not stopped running. The lawsuit claims that automobile manufacturers have known about this problem for years. At least 27 complaints about this problem have been submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) since 2009.

However, automakers have continued to advertise keyless ignition systems as being safe. The class action lawsuit claims that there is an easy fix to this deadly problem. Manufacturers simply need to install a feature to automatically shut off unattended vehicles after a certain amount of time.

The lawsuit is seeking class action status and is requesting injunctive relief requiring automakers to install automatic shut-off features on all current and future vehicle models as well as provide compensation and punitive damages. For now, we will have to wait and see if this safety feature becomes standard on vehicles with keyless ignition systems.

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James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.