How to Start Car Without Key (Simple DIY Tips)

There’s nothing more frustrating than losing your car key. After tearing your home, purse, and car apart in search of your keys, you’ve probably wondered if it’s possible to start your car without a key.

Although it’s tricky, there are a few ways you can start your car without a key, such as hot wiring or using a tool like a screwdriver.

How Do You Start a Car Without a Key?

The best way to get your car started without a key is to call a locksmith or a friend who might have access to a spare. However, if those aren’t options, you can use the methods here to get your car started.

Method 1: Using a Screwdriver

A screwdriver is one of the most common tools you can use to start your car without a key. It’s a simple process that doesn’t require much knowledge of cars.

Tools and Equipment Needed

  • Flathead screwdriver

Step 1: Remove the Screws

Using your screwdriver, remove the screws around your keyhole in the steering column. Then, remove the plastic rim around your keyhole.

Step 2: Remove the Bolts

You’ll see several bolts holding your ignition switch to the steering column. Remove them to unlock your steering wheel.

Step 3: Remove the Electrical Screws

Next, remove the set of screws that hold the ignition switch components together.

Step 4: Start the Car

Once you’ve removed your screws, you can try to start your car. Simply insert the screwdriver into your ignition and turn.

Method 2: Hot Wiring

Hot wiring your car is another method of starting your car without a key. However, you should only attempt this method if you have prior experience with cars.

Tools and Equipment Needed

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Wire stripper
  • Owner’s manual or internet access
  • Electrical tape

Step 1: Remove the Screws

You can use the screwdriver or the drill to remove the screws in the steering column cover. These screws are on either side of the steering column.

Step 2: Remove the Access Panel

Once you’ve removed the steering column cover, you’ll need to also remove the access panel. You should be able to just pull it out, revealing the ignition wires.

Step 3: Find the Ignition Wires

Next, you’ll need to figure out which wires are connected to your ignition. Battery wires are usually red, so those will be simple to set aside. However, since ignition wire colors can vary, you’ll have to look up what color your ignition wires are online or in the owner’s manual.

Step 4: Strip the Wires

Using your wire stripper, strip off a bit of the insulation around the ignition wires. Then, twist the two bare wires together. The interior of your car should flicker to life.

Step 5: Find the Starter Wire

Locate your starter wire and strip some of the insulation off. Then, touch it to the two ignition wires you just twisted together. It’s a live wire, so don’t twist it together because you’ll get a nasty shock.

Step 6: Secure the Wires

Using a bit of electrical tape, secure the end of the starter wire to avoid any unintended shocks.

Method 3: How to Start a Car With Scissors

Another method of starting your car without a key is to use scissors. However, this could potentially be very damaging to your ignition.

Tools and Equipment Needed

  • Scissors

Step 1: Find the Right Scissors

Find a pair of scissors that has a blade that’s thin and narrow enough that it’ll fit into your ignition’s keyhole.

Step 2: Insert the Blade

Insert one of the scissor’s blades into your ignition, moving it around until you feel it settle or fall into place.

Step 3: Start the Car

Once you think the scissor blade is in the right spot, twist. If your car starts, then you’ve succeeded.

Method 4: Hammer and Screwdriver

Using a screwdriver and hammer to start your car can be simple and effective. That said, just be forewarned that it’ll also most likely permanently damage your car’s ignition switch.

Tools and Equipment Needed

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Hammer

Step 1: Place the Screwdriver

Carefully line your screwdriver up in the keyhole, letting it rest on the edges.

Step 2: Hammer

Hit the handle of your screwdriver with the hammer. This will break the pins.

Step 3: Start the Car

Once the pins are broken, you should be able to use the screwdriver to turn the ignition like you would a key.

Method 5: Use the Red Coil Wire

The red coil wire method is a viable option if you’re well-versed with auto mechanics. It involves popping the hood and poking around in a few areas that are best left to professionals. The benefit is that this method works for modern cars that use a START/STOP button as well as those that use a key.

Tools and Equipment Needed

  • Owners manual or Internet access
  • Drill
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Jumper cables

Step 1: Find the Red Wire

The first step is to locate the red wire, which will be attached to your ignition coil. Once you find it, connect one end of your jumper cable to it and the other end to the positive battery terminal. Lights on your dash and some electronics should flicker to life.

Step 2: Unlock Your Steering Wheel

Using the screwdriver or drill, remove the steering column cover and find the locking pin so you can unlock your steering wheel. Use your flathead screwdriver to press the pin. When the pin releases, you should be able to move the steering wheel.

Step 3: Connect the Solenoid

Once your steering column cover is removed and your wheel is unlocked, you should be able to see your starter solenoid. Connect the other end of your jumper cable to the solenoid. From there, your car should start.

How to Start Car Without Key Fob

If you’ve lost your key fob, there are a few ways you can start your car without it. Then, as soon as you’re able, order a replacement fob to replace the one you lost.

Method 1: Hot Wire It

Some cars are finicky about starting your car without the key fob. However, you can use one of the methods listed above to bypass the ignition lock.

Method 2: Use the Mobile App

Some newer cars come with a mobile app that allows you to start the vehicle remotely. That being the case, the first thing you should do is check to see if your car is one of the brands with this convenient feature. If it does, download the app, and you should be good to go.

Method 3: Use the Key

Although many vehicles have a push-button start these days, they all still have the option to start your car with a key. Simply remove the plastic cover that conceals your keyhole, release the key from the fob, put it in the ignition, and turn.

How Long Does It Take to Hotwire a Car?

If you have all the appropriate tools on hand and feel confident in your automotive skills, hotwiring a car shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. However, if you’re not terribly skilled with cars and haven’t attempted hotwiring before, it could take you far longer.

Will All Cars Start Without a Key?

Whether a car will start without a key is dependent on the type of car it is.

For example, many cars don’t require you to insert your key in the ignition to operate. However, the fob will need to be within a certain number of feet for the vehicle to drive.

Some cars, especially newer ones, have complex electronic failsafes that make it nearly impossible to hotwire. That said, older models are usually easy to hotwire.

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Author: DJ

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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