Push-button start: An old-school solution reimagined for the modern age


Want a cup of coffee? It’s easy as popping a k-cup into your Keurig and hitting a button. It’ll take, maybe, a minute. Making a cup once required more effort—maybe 10 minutes when you add up grinding the beans, measuring it out into a filter, and waiting for the water to heat up and for the coffee to then brew. That may not seem like a long time, but first thing in the morning, it’s an eternity compared to today’s convenience.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/01/09/push-button-start


The difference between the “old school” and “new school” push button starter isn’t necessarily the action of pushing the button, but the result of pushing the button. When you push the starter button of an early Cadillac…or any vehicle up until the 1998 Mercedes with push button start you were mindfully controlling when the starter motor engaged and then disengaged once the engine roared to life.

The modern version of the push button you are merely suggesting to the vehicle that you would like to energize the necessary systems so that you can start driving and become mobile. There is no direct correlation between how long you depress the button and what happens. The computer takes over and does this for you. (The same is true for modern vehicles with a traditional key that you turn…the computer is doing the work for you.)

I have noticed that it is common for younger drivers to use the phrase “turn the car on” versus the majority who drove vehicles prior to 1998 will still say “start the car”. Subtle, I know…but the difference is telling.