Misplacing car keys cause inconveniences. I mean, you will need to open or start your car, especially when you’re out. To avoid this, one must be very careful. But no matter how careful you are, you may still misplace your key someday. In that situation, you would want to start the car at least to get it off that place.
The process of starting your car without using a key is called hot wiring. Bringing us to the topic, how to hotwire a car. This method works best for vehicles manufactured before the mid-90s. Recent cars have their wiring units hidden, making it difficult to hotwire them.
How to hotwire a car step by step guide
When trying to start a car without a key or hot wiring, as it is called, be careful. Else you may end up electrocuting yourself or damage some electrical components.
But before we dive right in, there are some tools that you might need. You won’t be using them all at a time; instead, the method you utilize will determine what tool you will use. They are:
- A flat head screwdriver
- Cutters (a blade, knife, etc.)
- Jumper cables
- Electrical tape
- Pulley extractor
- Clip leads or wires
- Drill and drill bit
With your tools ready, we are going to walk you through three ways on how to hotwire a car in an emergency. Let’s dive right in.
The steering wheel method
If you’re using the steering method, you would need to get into the car first. Check out this article on how to open the door without the key. Once you’re in, do this
- First, take out the plastic covering. To do this, unscrew the steering column with a screwdriver. Then, remove the cover to access the panel
- Locate the right wire harness. You will see three wire harnesses. Look for the wire harness conductor; this connector leads to the battery, ignition, and starter motor. The ignition wires are sometimes brown or yellow, battery wire is always red, and starter wire yellow
- Hold the battery wire and cut off the insulation (say an inch), then twist them together. Cover with electrical tape, so they don’t touch any metal around the car.
- Connect the ignition wire to the battery wire. This should ignite the dash and other electrical components
- Peel the wire from the starter cable (half an inch), then use it to touch the edge of the already connected battery Your car should be on by now
- Rev the engine so the car can keep running
- While the car is running, the steering column may still be locked. To unlock it, break the metal keyhole or turn the wheel back and forth very hard. This should send out the spring.
Drill and screwdriver method
This method is relatively straightforward. Provided you have the right tools, and the car has a keyhole, you’re good to go. Now, let’s see how to hotwire a car with a screwdriver or drill:
- Insert the drill or screwdriver into the keyhole (about three-quarters of the drill should go inside). This would destroy the lock pins
- There are many sections of the lock pins, so repeat the above process as many times as possible to destroy other lock pins
- When you feel all the pins are broken, pull out the screwdriver from the keyhole
- Then put back the screwdriver into the keyhole ( as if it’s your key) and start the car.
The jumper cable trick (the hood)
This method is not as simple as the drill and screwdriver method, and it’s also time-consuming. It entails starting the car from under the hood. This approach is perfect for modern vehicles since most of them have ousted keyholes and utilize safer technology. See how to hotwire a car from under the hood.
- Raise the hood and locate the red coil cable. Depending on your engine type, this cable should either be at the left or right side of the engine
- Get the jumper cable you have already. Connect one side of the jumper cable to the positive battery terminal and the other end to the coil positive terminal or the red wire that leads to the coil. This should power the electronics in your dash
- Locate the starter solenoid. Some vehicles have it at the right side fender close to the battery (you can check your owner manual for its position)
- To access the solenoid, you need to unlock the steering wheel. To do this, place a flat-bladed screwdriver between the column and the wheel, then push hard. This should force the lock pins out of place. The lock pin breaking or an alarm should tell you’re already seeing the solenoid.
- Connect the solenoid starter to the battery terminal to start your car
Q: Is it still possible to hotwire cars?
Yes, it is still possible to hotwire cars, especially those manufactured before the mid-90s. However, modern vehicles can still be hot-wired though tricky. But, except you are a thief, do not hotwire a modern car.
New cars are built with safer technology that makes hot wiring difficult and dangerous. If you lock yourself out, get a new key fob or have a professional do it for you. Else you stand the chance of destroying some electrical components of the car.
Q: Is it illegal to hotwire your car?
It is not illegal to hotwire your car. However, ensure you have proof of ownership in case the car alarm draws the attention of people, and you’re caught. Even if you get arrested, at least you have something to prove you own the car.
Q: What color wires do you use to hotwire a car?
A better question will be, what wires do you use to hotwire a car? The three wires you access when hot wiring via the steering is the red battery wires, the brown or yellow ignition wire, and the yellow starter wire. However, when doing it via the hood, you use the red coil cable together with the bumper cables you already have.
Q: Can you really start a car with a screwdriver?
You can start a car with a screwdriver. Just ensure the vehicle has a keyhole and you have the screwdriver at hand. To do this, insert the screwdriver into the keyhole repeatedly until the lock pins are destroyed.
Remove the screwdriver, then place it back like it’s your key and start the car. However, to get a more detailed explanation on how to hotwire a car with a screwdriver, scroll up.
Q: What happens if you hotwire a car?
If you hotwire a car, the car starts running without a key and takes you to your destination. Just ensure you have the right tools and enough knowledge on how to hotwire cars so you don’t hurt yourself or damage other components.
Q: How long does it take to hotwire a car?
It takes between 3–10 minutes to hotwire a car. It could be higher or less, depending on the approach you use, the knowledge of the method utilized, and the availability of the necessary equipment.
Learning how to hotwire a car is the simplest way to move your vehicle if you misplace your key. This article has highlighted three methods. But note that hotwiring is suitable for older cars made in the mid-90s. It is tedious to do it on recently manufactured vehicles.
But while you can hotwire modern cars, you stand the risk of damaging many electrical components. Even when you’re hot-wiring old cars, be very careful so you don’t get electrocuted or cause more harm to the vehicle. Get the right tools and ensure you have a good knowledge of how to hotwire a car.