What Happens If You Take the Car Key out While Driving?

The cars manufactured in the 50’s and 60’s had simpler mechanisms. They did not have so many advanced technological features and the ignition switches had simple functions. You could take the car key out while driving without affecting the engine’s operation. Can you do the same with the modern cars?

What Will Happen If You Take the Car Key out While Driving?

The straight answer is nothing because you cannot remove the key! With time, the structure of the ignition switches has become more and more complex due to security reasons. In modern vehicles, you cannot remove the key with the engine on. Even if you can do it due to some defects, you will lock the steering wheel. As it will happen while the car is still running, an accident seems almost inevitable.

You cannot remove the key while driving
You cannot remove the key out while driving. Source: Getty

If you do it when the ignition switch is turned to the OFF position, the steering wheel will be locked so that it cannot turn and the transmission will be locked to the Park mode. In that condition, you won’t be able to drive the car because the transmission, steering, and engine won’t work in that case. This situation is also dangerous because if the vehicle goes on a lock down in the middle of a highway or a road with heavy or moderate traffic, an accident is a possible outcome.

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take the car key out while driving
Most modern cars use key fobs, not keys. Source: Ebay

If the car features an electrical-based assistance, which may include braking and steering, it will stop working almost immediately. If it functions on a vacuum-based assistance, it will run for a while and keep rotating until it comes to a complete stop. So, if you can take the car key out while driving, an accident is the most probable consequence.

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What Will Happen to a Modern Car?

Many vehicles these days don’t even have an ignition key. The key less ignition is operated by an RFID fob. The fob has to be within a range for the vehicle to run smoothly. The car will run, at least in Park mode, even if the fob gets slightly out of range.

What will happen if you throw it out of the window while driving the car at a high speed? If the engine is running and the transmission is not in the Park mode, the car will not stop running. The vehicle’s central computer system assumes that the key fob is malfunctioning. So, it will not stop the engine for safety reasons.

However, depending on the make and model, shifting the gear into Park will stop the engine in some vehicles. In case of other models, it will halt only when you stop and shut the engine off. The problem is, there will be no way to restart the engine without the key fob within the required range.

Some models have a start/stop button such as Ford SUVs. Pressing that button while the car is still running will switch the engine off if the speed is less than 20mph. the computer system will simply ignore the command if the speed is more than that threshold.

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