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3 Simple Methods To Hotwiring A Car In An Emergency

While I don’t want to teach you to do something that is illegal or would get you locked up, I want to make sure that if you find yourself in a life or death situation and need a car to escape, or if you have misplaced your keys you know how to get it started.

So, in this article, I am going to describe for you three methods for hotwiring a car. This is the process where you start a car without a key. You see it performed in movies very often but how do they really do it. Be aware that forced entry will set off an alarm if the vehicle is equipped with one.

Before I start, I want to cover both my butt and the butts over at Fight Fast: While hotwiring a car is an important skill to have in your bag of tricks, it’s also illegal and can land you in jail if used for nefarious purposes. We are not promoting any such activities here.

The methods I am about to teach you are best suited for older model vehicles, especially the ones that don’t need microchip activation to start.

Here is something that most don’t tell you or show you in the movies:

Most hotwire methods will only work on cars older than the mid-90s. Newer models are equipped with locking mechanisms to keep you from hot-wiring the car unless you’re intimately familiar with how the particular model works. If you try this on a 2002 Toyota Camry for instance, you’ll likely end up setting off alarms and locking the starter.

When you are learning how to hotwire a car in an emergency, it’s good to know about certain parts of the car and how they function. You want to know what to touch and what not to touch so you won’t short out something or get shocked.

One of the first things you need to know are the tools that you will need to get the job done. Every car owner should have these on hand in case of an emergency. If you don’t, go to the store and grab the things from this list and put them in your bugout bag or in your trunk.

  • Insulated gloves
  • Wire stripper
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Drill and drill bit (battery powered)
  • Electrical tape
  • Driver’s License
  • Proof of ownership (these two items are for if you are hotwiring your own car and get caught. It won’t help you if you are “borrowing” a car to escape in an emergency)

The Screwdriver Method:

This method is the simplest, so I will start with it, and you should try this method first. While this method is relatively effective for disabling the lock pins, using it will permanently damage the cars key mechanism. So, think twice if you are doing this to your own car. Any screwdriver, key, or even flat piece of metal will be able to start the car using this method:

  • Drill about 2/3 of an inch into the keyhole, where the inner flap starts
  • Remove the drill bit and let the lock bits fall into place
  • Repeat as needed, until all the bits are in position
  • Insert a flat head screwdriver into the keyhole and start the car normally

If you don’t have a drill, on some much older models, you can break the locking pins in the ignition by hammering a flathead screwdriver into the keyhole and turning it over.

Don’t worry if this method doesn’t work. You can use the screwdriver again for method two as long as it didn’t get stuck in the ignition cover.

The Literal Hot Wire Method:

For this next method, it is important to note that you must use extreme caution when doing this. Take your time so you will be sure to avoid getting a painful electrical shock. If you choose to use this method, you will have to rewire the car and bypass the ignition system, hence the name. Here are the directions:

  • The first thing you must do is to figure out if you can disable the steering wheel lock. Simply, remove the steering shaft from the back of the steering wheel. Next, look for a little disk that looks like it can fit a key. Remove this disk if you can.
  • Use a screwdriver and remove the access cover that’s beneath the steering wheel.
  • Next, look for two red wires, remove ½ inch of insulation off of each end with the wire cutters and twist the wires together, making sure that the exposed wires aren’t touching any metal. In order for the car to continue running these wires must stay connected at all times, so put some electrical tape around them if you have any.
  • Find the brown wire and strip about ½ inch insulation of the end.
  • Touch the end of the brown wire against the twisted ends of the red wires until the engine starts.

Once you have the engine going, it is important that you keep the red and brown wires separate, to avoid sparks that can drain the battery.

There is one more important thing that you must do. You are going to have to break the steering lock. While the car may be started, the steering column will probably be locked, meaning that you’ll have to break it to be able to steer the car.

  • On some models, all you’ll need to do is pop off the metal keyhole which will release a spring and break the lock. If you already tried to jam your screwdriver in there earlier because you’ve got a mid-70s to mid-80s vehicle, the lock is probably already broken.
  • Some models will respond when you crank the wheel hard to either side as if you were trying to twist it free. You can also use a hammer to fix in the wheel and use for leverage. You should hear it break and the wheel will be free, so you’ll be able to drive normally.

Powering the Dash:

This is the final method. For this method, you have to know a little bit about the components under the hood of the car.

  • Open the hood and locate the red coil wire. Both the plug and coil wires are located at the rear of almost all V8 engines. Four-cylinder engines have them placed on the right side, near the center of the engine. Six-cylinder engines are on the opposite: left side, near the center of the engine.
  • Get your hands on some jumper cables. Run a jump cable from the positive battery terminal to either the positive side of the coil or the red wire that leads to the coil. This is going to provide power to the dashboard, which is required for you to start the engine.
  • Locate the starter solenoid. On Ford cars, it is on the right-side fender well, near the battery. On GM cars, it is on the starter under the steering wheel.
  • Unlock the steering wheel. I told you how to do this in the last method, but here is another method. You can place a flat blade screwdriver in the top center of the steering column, pushing between the wheel and the column. Next, roughly push the locking pin away from the wheel.
  • The locking pin will not break or set off any alarms, and you should be able to find the solenoid underneath.
  • Connect the solenoid to the positive battery terminal. You will see a small wire at the top of the solenoid and the positive battery cable below. Remove the ignition switch wire from the solenoid and, using an insulated screwdriver, short the solenoid’s positive post to the terminal where the ignition switch connects
  • When you do this, you will apply 12 volts directly from the battery. This should activate the solenoid, and the starter should crank the car.

Important Considerations:

I have given you 3 methods to hotwire a vehicle. Again, I want to emphasize that you will need to try to locate an older vehicle. If you are traveling in a foreign country you will be surprised by the large number of older model American cars you will see. Choose one of those.

The actual process of hotwiring a vehicle is easy. But there are certain precautions that you should take to ensure you are successful:

  • Use caution when you are messing with the wiring and if there is time, check with the Owner’s Manual for specific instructions about the wires and color coding for that specific model.
  • Always wear insulated gloves when you are working on wires, as their exposed ends carry a powerful live current which can hurt you.
  • After you get the car started initially, pull the wires apart and tape your ends to avoid getting electrocuted when you are driving.
  • Modern cars feature microchip and transponder systems for getting the ignition unlocked, and if you try to hotwire them, it may set off an alarm.

You are probably thinking I am crazy for sharing this particular special agent tip with you, but there’s nothing worse than being in a terrifying situation, where you have to move quickly, and you have to “acquire” a car. This could very well happen during a terrorist or disaster situation. Before you start to panic, take a step back, breathe and remember this lesson. The information I provided in this article should provide you with all you need to hotwire a car in an emergency where staying put is just not an option. Be informed and be safe.

Click here for easy-to-implement, brutally effective self defense moves taught by Derek Smith

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