Hotwiring a car may seem like something you only see in TV shows and movies, but if you have an older vehicle which was made in the mid-1990s or earlier, you can do it yourself in emergency situations. However, modern vehicles are made with electronic locking systems and most of their wiring is not easily accessible, so this is not a viable option. So, if you are looking for how to hotwire a car with a chip key, you are going to struggle.
Before you attempt to hotwire your vehicle, you should bear in mind that there is a risk to your safety and the wellbeing of your car if you don’t take the proper precautions. So, in this blog post, we are going to talk you through the basics of a common way of car hotwiring in case you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to start your car without a key.
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Understand the Basics
Before we get into the methodology of how do you hotwire a car, let’s discuss what this term actually means. Normally, when you put your key in the ignition, an electrical circuit is created going from the battery to the ignition, followed by the starter motor. Once the motor has been powered up, it will then turn over the engine and start the car. When you hotwire a car, you generate the circuit without a key.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Before you get started, you should try to get your car to a safe position where there is less passing traffic and fewer distractions. Try to choose a flat road where the vehicle will stay comfortably in place. Put the vehicle in neutral and apply the handbrake.
Assemble Your Equipment
You need to make sure that you have all the correct equipment ready. The main tools you need are a flat-bladed screwdriver and a wire stripper, but some insulated gloves will help to prevent you from getting electrocuted. Also, electrical tape is also useful for safety. And having your driver’s license and proof of ownership is also important in case you are questioned what you are doing.
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Try Starting the Engine with a Screwdriver
Before hotwiring the vehicle, you should try starting it in an easier way. Take your screwdriver and put it in the keyhole of the ignition system. In some cases, you may be able to start the engine simply by turning the screwdriver. If not, you will need to follow the further steps below.
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- Step One
Step inside your vehicle and locate the steering column cover. There should be screws on either side. If not, you may have a vehicle which is too modern. Remove these screws and you will see some access panels. Take these out and you will have access to the ignition system wires.
- Step Two
Now, you should see three bundles of electrical wires. One hooks up the column controls such as the lights, indicators, cruise control etc. Another will link to the column controls on the opposite side such as the windscreen wipers and seat warmers. Finally, you have the set leading to the battery, ignition, and starter. Focus on this set. You need to determine which wire in the bundle connects to the ignition system and which connects to the battery. Often, the battery wires are red, but bear in mind that there is no standard color system, so you need to get more information about your specific vehicle online or in your owner’s manual. This is important as manipulating the incorrect wires can cause you to get electrocuted.
- Step Three
Take your wire strippers to trim some of the insulation off each end of the ignition and battery wires. Around one inch (2.5cm) should be enough. Now, you need to twist them together. If you have some electrician’s tape, you can wrap them. If you have done this properly, the ignition, lights, radio etc should all power up. While the electricity will work, you can’t start the vehicle until the next step.
- Step Four
Next, locate the wire which hooks up to the starter motor and trim off some of the insulation from its end. You need to do this very carefully, and you should only need to strip around ½ an inch. Then, touch this end of the wire to the other two, which should start up the vehicle. However, you need to avoid twisting the wires together. Remember, you are dealing with live electricity here!
- Step Five
If you have successfully managed to start the car, you can now rev the engine several times to avoid stalling the car and having to go back a couple of steps. Before attempting to drive your vehicle, you should use some electrical tape to cover up the end of live starter wire. This will stop it from shocking you or something else – either way, the consequences are not likely to be good! When you want to turn off the engine, you just need to untangle the battery wires and the ignition wires.
- Step Six
Now, you may think that you can drive your car as normal, but it is likely that the steering column has locked up. The only way you will be able to drive your vehicle is to break it. On some cars, you just need to remove the metal keyhole to release the spring and break the lock. If you own a particularly old car and you have already tried to put your screwdriver in there, it is likely that the lock is already broken. If not, you may have to use some force. Try turning the wheel hard either way to twist it free. You may need a hammer to act as leverage. You will hear a breaking sound which means that the wheel is free to use as normal.
Remember, hotwiring your car isn’t an action which you should take lightly, but in emergency situations when you have to move your car, it can end up being invaluable.