Think Twice About Your Remote Start:  Deadly Dangers of Keyless Remotes

Think Twice About Your Remote Start:  Deadly Dangers of Keyless Remotes

Remote Start Safety

It can be hard to buy a new vehicle these days that does not come standard with a keyless remote.  With people being so accustomed to convenience, these remotes make it easy to lock or unlock your doors, open a hatch, or even start the engine.  While this convenience is generally very nice to have, it does come with some dangers.  It is helpful to be aware of these dangers so that you can take the proper precautions to avoid getting into trouble.

Automobile Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in automobiles works much the same way that carbon monoxide poisoning works in any other setting.  Anything that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide.  So, gas furnaces, gas fireplaces, generators, and car engines all produce carbon monoxide.  When the area is not properly ventilated, that causes big problems.

Carbon monoxide actually robs your body of the oxygen that it needs to survive.  So, when you breathe in carbon monoxide, your body is unable to use oxygen and your cells become oxygen-starved.  This can deadly in a short period of time.

Carbon monoxide is often referred to as the “silent killer”.  It is completely odorless, so people do not even realize when carbon monoxide is present.  By the time they begin feeling bad, it may be too late.

The most common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning related to automobiles are running the vehicle without proper ventilation and malfunctioning of equipment on the vehicle.  Running a vehicle in an enclosed garage or basement is a recipe for disaster.  As the car runs, the garage becomes filled with carbon monoxide, and it spreads into the home as well.  Before you know it, the home is filled with CO as well and a real problem is present.

Another way that CO poisoning can occur with automobiles is through equipment that no longer works properly.  This may be a leaking exhaust system or a hole in the cabin of the vehicle.  This can allow carbon monoxide to enter the vehicle and you may be breathing it in as your are driving.  This displays the importance of performing regular maintenance on your vehicle and ensuring that everything is working properly.

Keyless Remotes Can Increase Your Chances of Trouble

You may be wondering how a keyless remote is even related to carbon monoxide poisoning.  Well, a keyless remote can increase your odds of trouble, and here’s how:

  • Accidental starts

Carrying your keyless remote around in your pocket can potentially cause an accidental starting of the vehicle. How many times have you sat down on your remote, only to have the horn start honking and light flashing because a button was accidentally pressed?  This same thing could happen, and your vehicle could accidentally be started.

In addition to an accidental button press in your pocket, those with small children should also take extra precaution.  Most children love playing with keys and pressing buttons on remotes.  This is all fun and games until the child accidentally starts the vehicle while it is still inside the garage.  Maybe nobody else knows the car is running, and the home begins to fill with carbon monoxide.  This can quickly turn into a deadly situation.

  • Easy to forget the car is running

Most of the time when the car is started remotely, the person intended to start it.  However, there can still be issues here.  Suppose you start your car remotely in the garage to let it warm up, but then you get distracted by something and forget the car is running. It does not take long before dangerous levels of carbon monoxide begin seeping into the home.

How to Avoid Danger

Obviously you want to be able to take advantage of the keyless remote functionality of your vehicle.  Nobody likes crawling into a freezing cold car first thing in the morning, so that remote start feature is amazing in the winter months.  However, there are some measures you need to take in order to avoid potentially dangerous situations.

First, you should never leave a vehicle running inside an enclosed garage.  Even leaving a window or the garage door open is not enough as carbon monoxide can still build up inside the garage space.  You should always move your car outside if you intend to let it sit and idle.

Once you move the vehicle outside, ensure that it is far enough away from the home to avoid danger.  Most experts recommend moving the vehicle at least 20 feet away from the home.  If the car is closer than that while it is running, there is a chance that carbon monoxide can still find its way into the home through vents or windows.

Lastly, make sure that your home is equipped with working carbon monoxide detectors.  Since carbon monoxide is odorless, your nose will be unable to detect its presence if it does start to come inside the home.  A working CO detector will sound an audible alarm to let you know immediately that there is a problem.  This will allow you time to leave the area and properly ventilate it before returning.  This could be a life saver!

car without remote start

What If My Vehicle Doesn’t Have an Audible Alert?

Cars do not come equipped with carbon monoxide detectors built in.  The reason is that these devices cannot withstand the extreme temperatures that the interior of most cars experience during the summer and winter months.  So, what can you do since there is no built-in alert?  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. If you suspect that CO may be making its way into your vehicle, you can put a standard CO detector inside the vehicle to check. Most CO detectors on the market today run on batteries, so you can easily place the alarm inside your vehicle to test for the presence of the gas.  Just be aware that the alarm will be very loud inside the vehicle!
  2. If you start your vehicle remotely, set an alarm on your phone for no more than 10 minutes so you don’t forget that it’s running. This way, if you do get distracted with other items, the alarm on your phone will remind you that your car is still running.
  3. Always perform proper maintenance, and get inspections performed by certified professionals. Keeping your vehicle in proper working order can prevent danger, and a professional can help diagnose any potential problems.


While keyless remotes are quite useful, they also come with some dangers that many people are not aware of.  Just like a great set of brake pads are crucial to your vehicle safety, a key FOB can improve the functionality of your ride. By being informed of the dangers, you can avoid potential problems for yourself and others.  Follow the information and tips described above to safely use those keyless remotes!


Bryce Newell is an automotive enthusiast who loves to write about the latest news, products, and DIY projects. While Bryce is an amateur in the field, he is passionate about cars and has been since he spent weekends in the garage helping his dad rebuild a 68 Dodge Charger as a kid.

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