Need car parts? Select your vehicle
Reading Time: 4 minutes
  • Accidentally pressing the push to start button at low speeds can stop the car, but it does nothing at higher speeds.
  • If you need to stop your keyless ignition car in an emergency, put it in neutral, gently apply the brakes, and release the gas pedal first.

The push to start button is an increasingly common feature in newer car models. Also called the engine start button, it lets you start and turn off the engine in a vehicle with keyless ignition or push-button ignition. Because of the button’s convenient location and ease of use, you might have wondered what might happen if you accidentally pushed it while driving your car.

Will your car continue moving? Will it stop? How fast will it decelerate? Will anything else happen? Since pressing the push to start button can potentially affect your safety on the road, it’s a good idea to find out if doing this might cause issues.

Can You Stop Your Moving Car with the Push To Start Button?

Fortunately, you don’t have to personally find out what happens when you press the push to start button while driving your car. Professionals tried this on empty roads. They drove their vehicles at different speeds and recorded what happened when they deliberately pressed the push-button start. The effect varied according to how fast the car was going at the time.

Very Low Speeds

If the car travels at a low speed, it will turn off its engine if you press the push to start button. Thankfully, the slow movement makes it easier to retain control of the vehicle.

Some models with keyless ignition will turn off their engine when you use the push to start button while moving at five miles per hour or at a similarly slow speed. It’s a safety feature that helps prevent accidents.

Medium Speeds

Keyless ignition-equipped cars moving at higher speeds will generally keep moving even if you accidentally press the push to start button.

However, if you hold the push to start button down, you can turn off the engine even when the car’s moving at moderate speeds. You might even have to deliberately do this during an emergency, although you should only do so as a last resort. There are better ways to stop your vehicle than mashing the push to start button.

Highway Speeds

Highways require you to maintain high speeds. So, what happens if your finger lands on the push to start button by mistake while cruising on highways?

Thankfully, nothing will happen. Your car will continue going down the highway without slowing down. Its engine will continue running.

Much like what they do at medium speeds, vehicles with keyless ignition will keep running at higher speeds despite the push to start button getting pressed. Furthermore, they will warn you that they won’t shut down their engine while moving at high speed.

While accidentally pressing the push to start button while driving your car will usually cause no problems, avoid doing it as much as possible. There’s a low but non-zero chance that essential systems like power steering and power brakes might turn off if you push the button. If you lose those systems without warning, you might soon lose control of your car and end up in an accident.

Try These to Stop Your Push Button Ignition Car

Imagine the following scenario: You’re driving on the road when your car abruptly starts acting up. Perhaps it accelerates without warning and outside your control. You must halt your runaway vehicle as quickly as possible.

In such an emergency, you might think to use the push-to-start button to turn off the engine and stop your car. However, resist pressing it immediately. There are safer and more effective ways to stop your vehicle that you must try before resorting to the button.

Put Your Car in Neutral

The first thing you should try is to shift gears to neutral. It decouples the wheels from the engine. Without the power transmitted from the engines, the wheels won’t spin for long.

Putting your keyless ignition-equipped car in neutral is the simplest and easiest approach to stopping the vehicle during uncontrollable acceleration. You can do it in both manual and automatic cars.

Gently Apply the Brakes

Does your car continue to move after you shift to neutral gear? Slowly apply light pressure on the brake pedal. Without the power transmitted from the engines, the drive wheels will stop when you engage the brakes. Avoid hitting the brakes hard to reduce the risk of accidentally locking them, although an anti-lock braking system usually minimizes that issue.

Release the Gas Pedal

Are you driving an older model with a keyless ignition? If your car’s throttle gets stuck in the open position, release the gas pedal to close the throttle valve.

Raise your foot from the throttle pedal. Without the pressure applied by your foot, the pedal will return to its standard position. The throttle should close.

If you drive a newer model, you can skip this step.

Finally, Press the Push to Start Button

Even if the previous steps fail to stop your car, they usually reduce its speed to something slower and safer. They make the last resort more effective.

Now you can press the push to start button, which turns the engine off if you’re going slow enough. Without the power from the engine to drive its wheels, your car will eventually stop moving.

Other Tips

If your car has an automatic transmission, avoid shifting gears to parking after turning off the engine. Instead, keep it neutral.

Some cars with push to start buttons also come with an ignition key. You can shut down the engine by turning the key.

Warn Other Drivers

You’re not the only one on the road. Other drivers are usually also present, and pedestrians might be crossing the road. You want to avoid any accidents while trying to stop your car.

Inform other drivers about your predicament by flashing your car’s hazard lights and using the car horn. While the sudden light show and honking might annoy them, they’ll appreciate the heads-up about the potential danger.

Like any other feature, use the push to start button properly. Only use it to start the engine while your car isn’t moving. Avoid using it to stop your vehicle, even in an emergency. If you must use it, follow the recommended procedure to ensure you successfully stop your car.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Driving
Garage Essentials
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

View all Questions & Answers

expand_more Answers BE PART OF OUR COMMUNITY: Share your knowledge & help fellow drivers Join Now