Keyless ignitions spark carbon monoxide concerns

1 week 10 hours 7 minutes ago Monday, May 14 2018 May 14, 2018 Monday, May 14, 2018 4:46:00 PM CDT May 14, 2018 in News
By: Sarah Hempelmann, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - As keyless ignition vehicles become more common in the U.S., concern is growing about carbon monoxide safety. 

A recent article in the New York Times referenced dozens of deaths and injuries related to carbon monoxide from keyless cars left running in a garage. 

The report said 28 people died between 2006-2016, after carbon monoxide entered their homes. It says drivers believed their cars were off in the garage, but later died due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

One car dealer in Columbia was surprised to hear about the risk. John Saffell, Joe Machens sales manager, said regulations are in place to ensure such deaths are nearly impossible.

"They shut off automatically if you don't get in the car, if you don't enter your car," he said.

Saffell said some models they sell will only keep the car running for five minutes before it turns off.

According to the article, not all models have the same time limit. Some can keep the cars running up to 30 minutes.

Saffell said Missouri has seen a huge jump in the popularity of remote start cars in the last two or three years.

Even with the increase in demand, the Boone County Fire District said they have no data for calls being made about a remote car creating carbon monoxide issues.

"Typically they require a two-maneuver to make them work. So there are some safety features on remote starts," Assistant Chief Gale Blomenkamp said. "The newer ones are getting more and more safe every year."

He said carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer because it is a tasteless, odorless, colorless gas.

Blomenkamp said the best way to ensure a remote start doesn't cause a carbon monoxide leak is to be diligent about how it is installed and what model is being used.

Saffell said that because the remote starts are programmed with safety precautions, damage wouldn't come from the car.

"If you're starting your car in your garage and leaving the garage closed, you already got brain damage. You didn't get it from the car," he said. "It's not a very smart thing to do."

When looking at the pros and cons of having a remote start, he said he could name numerous pros but not a single con.

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