Are you in a situation where you need to start the car but realize you’ve lost your keys?
Say, you have an old car with a faulty ignition.
Or maybe you’re just passionate about cars and are curious to find out different ‘hacks’ and ways to expand your car knowledge.
Whatever the reason, you’re here because you want to know how to hotwire a car.
And we’re here to tell you just how to do that.
So let’s get started right away!
Is It Possible to Hotwire My Car?
Before anything else…
Is it possible to hotwire a car?
Yes and no.
Recent developments in car ignition technology have significantly reduced the chances of someone hotwiring a car. This is especially true with cars built in the twenty-first century.
Does your car start with a push-button ignition or proximity signal? If so, then it’s much more challenging to hotwire it.
If you insist, it just might produce costly damage to the internal wiring or components. And you certainly don’t want that happening.
So if we’re talking about modern cars, we’d say, no, it’s not possible to hotwire it, unless you want damages.
Now, if your vehicle’s model is from the ‘90s or older, then those are the types of vehicles where hotwiring is possible.
However, it’s important to note that hotwiring even an older car can have serious harmful effects if not done PROPERLY.
How Can I Hotwire My Car?
To properly hotwire your car, follow these steps:
- Insert a screwdriver into the ignition tumbler
- Get to the ignition wires
- Strip and clip
- It only takes a spark
- Cover up
Let’s go through each step in detail.
Step 1: Insert a Screwdriver Into the Ignition Tumbler
- Screwdriver with a square shaft
The way car keys work is that it engages the system’s ignition, completing a circuit that activates the car battery, and sending current to the starter motor. The starter motor then activates the car engine, starting the car.
If you don’t have your keys, you can try starting the car with a screwdriver instead. Make sure that the screwdriver has a small, square shaft to fit into the keyhole.
Place the screwdriver tip in the ignition tumbler. Turn the screwdriver like you would your car key and see if the car starts.
If that works, congratulations, problem solved!
If it doesn’t, proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Get to the Ignition Wires
- Owner’s manual and/or the internet
Use your screwdriver to open up the cover under the steering wheel.
Once removed, you will see several bundles of wiring. You might need to remove some access panels to get to them.
This is where your owner’s manual will come in handy. Read how to safely get rid of these panels.
The next step is to determine which wires are required to start the car. Because almost every car is different, Google can be a useful ally. Search “wiring diagrams for [enter car model here]” and go through it carefully.
In general, look for the wires connected to the car battery, which are usually colored red.
Then, look for the wire connected to the starter motor, which can vary in color but is normally yellow.
Finally, you need to find the wire hooked up to the car’s ignition system. For this wire, there is no usual color. The color will vary depending on the car’s make and model.
Step 3: Strip and Clip
- pocket knife
- alligator clips (3 sets)
Now that you’ve identified which bundle of wires you want, it’s time to do a little stripping. Wire stripping, to be exact.
Give each wire a slight tug.
Then, using a pocket knife, strip off part of the insulation of each of the 3 wires. You want to expose a small area of bare metal wire.
The exposed wires should be kept away from each other. If they make contact prematurely, the circuit will get shorted and cause another headache.
Clip one end of each alligator clip on the exposed parts of the wire. Again, keep them away from one another until you’re ready for the next step.
Step 4: It Only Takes a Spark
- strength and courage
It’s now time to make connections.
Get the alligator clip connected to the car battery wire. Connect the other end (the metal lead) to the alligator clip connected to the electrical/ignition wire.
Usually, the dash lights and indicators will flash once you do this. It mimics what happens when you turn the car key to the second stop on the ignition.
The next part is the moment of truth.
Remember the third clip? The one that’s connected to the starter motor?
You’ll want to touch – NOT clip – this metal clip lead to the part where the other two alligator clips are connected.
It will spark as they touch.
As soon as it does, the starter motor should activate. You’ll soon hear your car engine come to life.
If so, remove the third alligator clip right away.
It only takes a spark.
Step 5: Cover Up
- Electrical tape
Once the engine is running, you can start to cover up.
First, don’t forget to cover the exposed wires with electrical tape. You can loop the tape for 2 rounds to secure it.
From there, put all the wires back in place, as well as the other access panels, and the steering wheel cover.
And that’s all, folks!
That is how to hotwire a car.
Remember, it’s best to avoid hotwiring modern cars as it could lead to costly damages.
As for older cars, you still need to be careful. Always make sure you hotwire it PROPERLY.
To do that, follow the steps one by one and get your car running even without its keys. Don’t forget that it’s best to research the wire colors on the internet for your specific car model and make.