How to Hotwire a Car in an Emergency (8 Easy Steps)

If you are in an emergency, it can be good to learn how to hotwire your old car. Here're the steps

How To Hotwire A Car In An Emergency

If you have watched movies about car theft, you have seen thieves break into a car and start it without a key through a set of wires.

While we do not advocate car theft, the ability to hot-wire your car will prove useful if you lose your car keys.

Newer cars use an immobilizer, which means you need the chip in the key near the ignition to start your car. So in newer cars, hot wiring will not work. Always check to see if your car is equipped with an immobilizer before trying to hotwire it.

There are still ways to bypass the immobilizer, but you need a lot more knowledge to do that kind of thing.

How to Hotwire a Car

Ignition Switch Wires

Total Time: 5 minutes

1. Remove the plastic cover around the steering column

Steering Connector

First, you need to remove the plastic cover around the steering column to reach the ignition switch. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws under the steering wheel. Here you should find the wiring harness connection for the ignition switch.

2. Locate the ignition switch plug

Ignition Switch Wiring

Check the ignition switch’s backside, and you are going to find a connector going the ignition switch. You can either remove the connector to short the wires or cut the wires to short them.

3. Figure out the ignition switch wirings

Car Hotwire

This is the most important part of making a successful hotwiring. You have to find out which connector is doing what. You can find the wiring diagram marked on the ignition lock on some cars, but most often, you have to check a wiring diagram to know which wire s going where. You need to figure out the battery+, ignition, and starter motor wires. The battery cables are normally red, while the starter is yellow, and the ignition cables are brown. You should always confirm this with the owner’s manual, though.
Remember that if you don’t find the correct wiring diagram and put the wrong wires together, you can burn expensive parts like engine control units and even put your car on fire.
RELATED: How to Unlock & Start a Car With a Dead Key Fob

4. Cut & Strip the battery, starter, and ignition wires

Stripping Cables

Once you have located the starter, ignition, and battery+ wires, it is time to strip them – if you don’t choose to short them in the connector instead.

5. Twist the ignition + battery cable

Twisted Wires

Begin with twisting together the ignition and the battery+ cable. This should make a slight spark when connecting them, but you have for sure found the wrong wires if it is terrible.

6. Check if the ignition is turned on

Ignition On Dashboard

Once the ignition and battery+ wires are connected, you should hear the ignition in your car turned on, and you should in most cars also hear the fuel pump starting. If nothing happens, you probably found the wrong battery+ or ignition cable.

7. Hold the starter + battery cable together

Put Wires Together E1609953768630

After you are sure that the ignition is on, it is time to make the engine turn around to start. To do this, hold together the starter motor cable and the battery+ source for a couple of seconds until the car starts. When the car starts, you need to remove these two cables from each other, but let the battery+ and ignition cable be twisted together.

8. Break the steering lock

Break Steering Lock

The last step is to break the steering lock if your car is equipped with one. This can be really tough in some cars, and you really need some muscles for this.
However, after you broke the steering wheel lock, you should have a functional car.
To shut off the car – remove the ignition and battery+ wires from each other, and the car should die imminently.


  • Wire Stripper
  • Screwdriver
  • Wiring diagram

Drilling of lock pins

This method should only be used in emergency situations.

The other method to gain access to your car is to drill the lock pins. The purpose of this method of starting the car is to turn on the ignition with a screwdriver instead of a key. Place the drill bit on the keyhole until it is 60 percent covered. Orient yourself on the length of the key and drill into the keyhole until small metal pits come out. Each keyhole has two parts of the spring.

Note that this method will destroy your keyhole. Remove the drill and use a screwdriver to turn on the ignition. Now that all the pins are broken, you don’t need to press the screwdriver so hard. The engine will come to life. Be aware that once you have broken the keyhole, anyone can steal your car.


Magnus Sellén
Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of Mechanicbase. He has been working as a car mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced car diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.