10 car makers sued over keyless ignition dangers

Newer vehicles equipped with a keyless ignition may potentially be deadly if adequate safety measures aren't implemented. We've seen reports in the past of drivers forgetting to power their car off after parking it in the garage, only to later discover that it is still running and has produced a build-up of potentially lethal carbon monoxide. Now 10 auto makers in the United States have been hit with a lawsuit claiming the issue has resulted in 13 deaths due to what is said to be a "defect" with the vehicles.

The issue primarily affects hybrid vehicles, which are silent when operating on electricity. This silence may result in the driver forgetting to shut the car off. When the batteries run low, the car engine may power back on. If the vehicle is parked in an enclosed place, such as a closed garage, the resulting build up of carbon monoxide could seep into one's home and cause injury or death to those exposed.

Some vehicles are equipped with safety measures aimed at preventing this issue: some automatically shut off after idling for a certain period of time, while others issue an alert if the driver exits the car while it is still running. Some older model vehicles with keyless ignitions aren't equipped with these features, however, the lawsuit claims. Honda, GM, Chrysler, and Toyota are among the auto makers named in the lawsuit.

In March, GM recalled certain Chevy Volt vehicles to install an automatic shut off that will power off the car after it has idled for a certain period of time. The change was done for safety reasons, and followed reports of some drivers reportedly being injured by failing to turn the car off after parking it in an enclosed space.