Push to Start

“Push to Start” is written on the button below the steering wheel of my new car. There’s no ignition switch. I was suspicious of this device when we first looked at the car, and I’m still suspicious even after almost a month of ownership. How can you run a car without putting the key in the switch?

I did not plan to buy a new car. I planned to buy used so that some other sucker would have already paid to breathe in the “new car smell” and wear the new off it. I planned to swoop in and practically steal a used car with low miles, low car payments, and maybe even a year or so left on the warranty. That did not happen.

The brand of car I bought holds its value very well, and a new car of the same make and model costs not much more than a used one if you can find a used one. Evidently, people like them so well that there aren’t many used ones to be found. I won’t name the brand because this is the first time in over thirty years of car ownership that I haven’t bought “Amurican.” And, yes, I do still feel a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t buy Amurican this time, but I’m over fifty and I had to give in to better service records, better safety features, and better gas mileage.

Once I realized I was not going to get a steal of a deal on a used un-Amurican car, I thought I should at least test drive a new one. Our salesman was very accommodating and suggested I try the one with the sun roof and leather seats. Yep, that’s how they get you. You think you have all the used car salesman’s tricks memorized and you have stored up the antidote to the sales pitch poison, but they get you even so. Still. That key-less switch bothered me.

Then I remembered that my 1968 Nova had once been a “Push to Start” model also. Not by design of course, but out of necessity when the battery died. I often had to park on a hill, put the key in the ignition, move the gear shift to neutral, and run alongside that old ’68 to get it started on cold mornings when the engine wouldn’t turn over. I’d push on the frame of the open door and hang onto the steering wheel with my other hand as we (the Nova and I) gained speed down the hill. At just the right moment, I would jump in the rolling car, throw it back in gear, and pop the clutch; if I was very lucky the car would start the first time.

I related this story to the salesman, who was much too young to remember Novas or manual transmissions probably, and he laughed dutifully as young folks do when they are trying to be respectful or make a sale. That, a handshake, and 0.9 percent financing sealed the deal.

Change isn’t always bad. I’m sure I’ll eventually get used to the “Push to Start” button. I already really like the sun roof and leather seats.

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