How to Start a Car with a Screwdriver

You’ve seen movies where car thieves can easily steal a car by just hot wiring them. If you lost your car keys, can you do this trick to start your car? I’ll show you how to start a car with a screwdriver.

To start your car without the key, first, remove the screws that hold the mechanical part of the ignition switch and the electrical wires together. Then insert a screwdriver with a flathead into the keyhole. And then turn the screwdriver the same way you would turn the car key. This will hopefully start your car.

Inserting and turning the screwdriver as mentioned above while inside the keyhole will power the starter motor. It will turn the engine over when that happens, and the car will start. So, as you hotwire your car, you start the flow of electricity without using the car key. 

Read on to learn more about starting a car by using a screwdriver and the steps you need to follow to do it.

How to Start a Car with a Screwdriver

how to start a car with a screwdriver

Can you start a car with a screwdriver? Yes, you can. You can start your car even if you have lost its key. First, you need a flat head screwdriver. Then remove the screws that hold the mechanical part of the ignition switch and the electrical wires together.

Insert the screwdriver into the keyhole and then turn it the same way you turn the car key. Hopefully, this method will start the engine.

Turning the screwdriver this way will hopefully turn on the starter motor; turn the engine over and start your car. This is what will result if you hotwire your car without its key. In effect, you have created an electric circuit without using the car key.

But first, you need to unscrew the plastic trim that holds or covers a part of the ignition system. Once you have removed this plastic rim or cover, you can access the ignition switch. Now, insert the screwdriver, turn it the way you turn your car key, and see if it turns the engine over. If it does, you have started your car.

Steps in Hotwiring a Car

Hotwiring a car means you are starting its engine without using its key. You have seen it done in the movies when a car thief or the movie hero opens something underneath the steering column and then twists two wires; after that, the car immediately starts. Is that the way this is done?

Before using modern electronic locking and computer systems, that’s how easy they can do it. Now, it’s a bit more complicated because of the ECU that controls the car’s locking mechanisms. Be that as it may, hotwiring is still possible with cars built in the mid-1990s.

Your car will start by inserting the key into the ignition and turning it. An electrical circuit is produced, which goes from the battery to the ignition. This will turn on the starter motor, turning the engine over. Your car will start once the engine turns over.

If you are hotwiring your vehicle, you generate the electrical circuit without using the car key. So, if you want to learn how to do it, follow these steps:

1. Locate the Screws of the Plastic Rim

Typically, you can find a plastic rim around the keyhole located in the steering column. This rim is held in place by a set of screws. Locate these screws.

2. Remove the Screws

Use a screwdriver to remove these screws and the plastic rim as well. Once you have removed them, you will see the ignition switch.

3. Remove the Bolts from the Steering Column

Bolts or screws hold the ignition switch on the steering column. Remove these bolts or screws to unlock the steering wheel.

4. Remove the Screws from the Electrical Part

Remove the screws that hold the mechanical and electrical parts of the ignition switch together. The electrical part is the one that holds the electrical wires together.

5. Insert the Flat-Head Screw Driver

Put the tip of your flathead screwdriver inside the keyhole. Then turn it in the same direction as you would your car key. Hopefully, this will start the car.

The above hotwiring process will start most cars built in the mid-1990s. Unfortunately, this process won’t work for modern cars built after that period. If your car doesn’t start using the above procedure, you may perform other steps.

Again, how to start a car with a screwdriver? First, remove the electrical wires that hold together the electrical and mechanical parts of the ignition switch. Then, insert a screwdriver into the keyhole. Turn it as if you’re turning a car key.

Additional Steps You Need to Hotwire a Car

how to start a vehicle with a screwdriver
Steering Column Cover

So, if you weren’t able to start your car with the above process, there are some other things you need to do. Here are the additional steps that your car may require to hotwire it:

1. Remove the Steering Column’s Cover

Use the screwdriver to remove the screws holding the cover of the steering column. These screws are located on both sides of the steering column. Once the cover is removed, the access panels will be exposed. Pull out the access panels. Once you do this, the wires of the ignition system will be revealed.

2. Determine Which Wires Are Connected to the Ignition System

As the ignition wiring system is exposed, you will see three bundles of wires with their own set of colors. One wire bundle is for the battery and the ignition; another for the warmers and the wipers. Lastly, the third bundle is for the lights of the car.

You have to figure out which wire bundle connects to the ignition system and the battery. Wires leading to the battery are usually red. However, there is no standard color for the ignition wires. You need to read your car manual to check it, or you may have to search online on this subject.

3. Strip the Wires

Once you have determined which wires are connected to the ignition system and the battery, strip off a small length of the insulation from the ends of the two wires. Twist these two ends together using your hands. If you do it right, the ignition lights, the lights, and the radio will turn on.

4. Find the Wire of the Starter Motor

Find the wire that leads to the starter motor. Remove a small length of the insulator at the end of this wire. Take this end of the wire and let it touch the ends of the two wires that you have twisted together earlier.

But don’t twist this wire to the already twisted wires. Just allow it to touch the two twisted wires. If you do it right, this will start your engine.

5. Insulate the Starter Wire

Get some electrical tape and wound it around the exposed end of the starter wire. It is a live wire as it is connected to the battery. So you have to cover it with insulating tape so when it comes in contact with metal or any wire, it won’t shock you, cause a fire, or cause any short circuit.

Alternative Method to Hotwire a Car

how to start a car using a screwdriver
Ignition Coil

There is another way you can start your car without using its key. This method is applicable for four to eight-cylinder cars. Here are the steps:

1. Find the Coil Wire

Open the hood of your car. Locate the red coil wire. This wire can be found in different locations, depending on the model and size of your engine. For instance, for 4-cylinder engines, it is usually located at the right of the engine’s center.

If you have a 6-cylinder engine, you can find this wire in the left of the engine’s center. For 8-cylinder engines, the red coil wire is usually located at the rear of the engine.

2. Supply Power to the Dashboard

Get a reasonable length of electrical wire and connect it to the battery’s positive terminal. There should be a red wire running from the coil to connect this wire. Or you can connect this wire directly to the coil on its positive side. Power will be supplied to the car’s dashboard if you do it right.

3. Find the Starter Solenoid

Please note that this procedure will work only if your car’s starter solenoid is located under the steering wheel. In most cars, it is. If you have a stick shift car, place it in neutral gear. Make sure that your car’s parking brake is active.

You need to start the solenoid. To do this, put your flathead screwdriver on the top center of the steering column. This is the spot where you can see the gap that separates the steering wheel from the steering column.

Then put firm pressure on the screwdriver. This will force the locking pin away so that you can access the solenoid.

4. Jump-start Your Car

You will see a small wire at the top of the solenoid. Under it, there is a positive cable that leads to the battery. Put the metal part of the screwdriver across this spot. If you do this right, your engine will start.

Be sure that you keep your hands only on the plastic handle of the screwdriver. You will get a strong electric shock if you hold its metal part.

Tips to Safely Hotwire a Car

Hotwiring your car is a dangerous procedure, so you must be careful. Failure to do so will put your life, limb, ignition system, and engine at risk. You risk experiencing severe electrical shock if you don’t observe utmost safety.

If not done properly, hotwiring can also damage the electrical wirings of your car. In addition, be sure that your car is neutral and activated with its emergency brake when you are doing any of these procedures.

A word of caution: when you are hotwiring a car, be sure that it is your car and not anybody else’s. If it is another person’s car, be sure you have their permission to do it. Hotwiring is an emergency procedure. Lastly, you should not do this regularly.

Conclusion: How to Start a Car with a Screwdriver

In starting your car without the key, you need first to remove the screws that hold the mechanical part of the ignition switch and the electrical wires together. Get a flathead screwdriver and insert it into the keyhole. Then turn the screwdriver the way you would turn your car key. Hopefully, this will start your car.

Be sure that you do this trick only on your car because it is illegal to do this on another car without the car owner’s permission. It is illegal if the car owner does not know it. You also must be very careful in hotwiring a car because it can lead to serious electrical shock.