Are you wondering if you can still start your car without your chip key? If the battery in the key FOB dies, can you still drive your car? What else can you do besides going to the dealership for a new key FOB?
Although transponder keys or key FOBs provide a lot of conveniences and additional security, they can also have problems. Their batteries can die. They can get lost or broken. However, there are several ways to start your car, even without the original chip key.
Read on to learn how to start your car without the chip key.
How to Start My Car Without Chip Key
There are a few ways to run your car without the chip key. However, note that most of these methods are pretty illegal. Some of them are the same ones that car thieves use. Also, you should inform your neighbors beforehand if you accidentally trip the alarm:
1. Use a Drill and Screwdriver
The quickest way to start a car without a key fob is to use a drill. Ensure that you have a screwdriver, too.
This method is the most suitable if you want to disable the steering wheel lock mechanism. Be careful when following the steps below to prevent ignition system damage:
- Drill a hole into the keyhole, starting with the inner flaps.
- Depending on your car’s make and model, you may need to drill 2 or 3 inches deep. This will destroy the pins and other bits in the locking mechanism. When you pull the drill bit out, some metal shards will come with it.
- Take a flathead screwdriver and insert it into the hole you just made.
- After that, use it to turn the ignition switch. Supposing you did not damage the switch, you can start the engine without a problem.
Before you try this method, note that this will permanently damage the ignition switch and void the warranty on your vehicle.
If you’re a fan of 80s and 90s-style action films, then you are probably familiar with hotwiring. However, the process is more complicated than simply ripping out wires under the steering wheel and crossing them together:
- Remove the hard plastic cover over the steering column. You can often see them kept in place using two large screws on both sides of the steering column.
- Once the cover is off, you’ll have access to the wires connected to the ignition system.
- Wear insulated or at least thick rubber gloves. The reason is that you will be handling hot wires.
- The next couple of steps will require your utmost concentration. Check if there are any red wires. Those are usually tapped into the battery, and the brown or yellow wires are for the ignition.
- Carefully cut the red and brown/yellow cables and remove some insulation.
- Connect the ends of the red and brown/yellow wires. This will turn on the starter motor and get the engine running.
Before trying the methods mentioned above, here is a disclaimer. The methods will only work on older model cars, specifically those made in the early 90s and older. Modern vehicles come with immobilizers.
These immobilizers prevent the engine from running when you use other methods besides the key fob. Any car with an ECU is almost impossible to hotwire. You might even trigger the alarm by doing it.
How to Start a Car Using Mobile Phone Apps
Some modern cars can control the ignition and other features using a mobile app. The cars featuring mobile phone app controls include the following:
- Ford Focus
- Jaguar E-Pace
- Volvo V60
- Land Rover Discovery
So, if you want to feel like you’re James Bond, consider buying one of these brands. When you get these cars, you need to download their accompanying app. Register your account and pair your vehicle to your mobile phone.
What Is A Chip Key?
The chip key also called a FOB, is a regular car key with a microchip embedded inside its sleeve. The chip is a security feature. It prevents the car’s engine from starting if the keys are nowhere near the ignition switch.
This feature helps because even if car thieves can manage to break into your vehicle, they can’t start it. Without the chip, they can’t start your car even if they have a duplicate of your key.
This works because the transponder or the chip inside the key continuously sends out a unique RFID signal. There is also a receiver inside the car that receives the transponder’s signal.
This will disable the immobilizer, thus allowing you to start the engine. Potential thieves would need to steal your keys to steal your car.
This is a great security feature, which undoubtedly helped prevent the theft of many cars. However, the problem comes when you lose your chip key, its batteries run out, or it malfunctions.
Can a Transponder Be Bypassed?
You cannot bypass the transponder. This means you have no other way to start the car without it unless you have a spare key. But the best way to handle it is to find a nearby dealership where you can request a replacement.
Bypassing the transponder is impossible since the immobilizer will prevent the engine from turning over, even if you have a duplicate key from a locksmith. However, there is a simple way to get around this:
- Carefully dismantle your original chip key. You can find the transponder inside the plastic sleeve on the key. Use a small flathead screwdriver to pry the sleeve open.
- Once you expose the transponder chip, which looks like a black square or a transparent tube, take it out.
- Take a piece of tape and attach the transponder somewhere near the ignition lock. Try starting the engine using your duplicate key.
- If the engine does not start or turn over, place the transponder in another location. After that, try starting the engine again. After some trial and error, you will find the right location.
- Once you find the right place, test it multiple times to find out if it works. If it does, set it in place permanently using super glue.
Should You Remove the Transponder Chip from a Key?
A couple of good things will happen once you remove the transponder. Once it is permanently affixed to the steering column, it is possible to use any duplicate key.
This can ironically decrease the chances of your car getting stolen. If the thief does not know about what you did and he used a stolen key, the engine won’t start.
This is because the transponder from the stolen key will interfere with the RFID signal. This signal comes from the transponder you glued onto the steering column.
Note, though, that there is also a downside to it. For one, it may cause you to lose the additional security the transponder provides. Without the transponder, experienced car thieves can forcefully start the engine without tripping the immobilizer.
Again, how to start my car without a chip key? To start your car without a chip key, follow the steps below:
- Expose the chip by removing the silicone cover. Use pliers or a screwdriver.
- Connect the chip to a piece of tape. Stick the chip to the lock.
- Try to start your car. Reposition the chip if your car did not start.
- Fix the chip with the glue after you find a position that works.
Can You Reset the Transponder?
Several websites and articles claim that you can reset or disable the transponder of any car using a simple technique. Usually, the process goes like this:
- Insert the key into the ignition switch and turn it into the ON position.
- Wait 10 minutes, then turn the key back to the OFF position.
- Repeat the first two steps twice.
- Remove the key from the lock.
But, if this method were real, car manufacturers would have patched this long ago. And more car thefts should have been reported daily if it was this simple to reset the chip keys.
One way to replicate the transponder’s RFID signal is to request a new chip key. You can request that from the dealership. You can also take them to a very skilled locksmith. Both options will cost quite a lot of money, so consider that if you need to.
Can you replicate the RFID from the car using a scanner? No, mainly because the vehicle is not transmitting the signal; it is a receiver. So, the things you see in car heist movies do not work in the real world.
Also, most transponders these days use a rolling code. This means the RF code changes with every use of the chip key. This makes them extremely difficult to clone.
How to Disable the Alarm System in a Car Without a Chip Key
Modern cars come with “nuisance alarms.” Such alarms make loud, shrieking sounds that hopefully deter car thieves from stealing the car.
If you accidentally trip this alarm, you can turn it off using the chip key. However, how do you turn off the alarm if you lose the chip key or the battery dies?
1. Lock the Doors One-by-One
Typically, you can turn off the nuisance alarm simply by getting inside the car and locking all the doors. Even if your chip key’s battery’s drained, you can still get inside your car manually using the key. Once you’re inside, lock all the doors, and it should hopefully kill the alarm.
2. Start the Engine
If locking the doors did not stop the alarm, probably starting the engine would. Just keep calm. Insert the key into the ignition switch and start the engine.
Hopefully, the nuisance alarm did not trigger the engine immobilizer, and you can still start the engine. If the alarm did not turn off immediately, let the car move a couple of meters forward. This should deactivate it.
3. Pull Out the Fuse
This will take a bit of technical know-how. The reason is that you will need to pull out the right fuse to turn the alarm off. This also means you should know where the fuse box is.
Many cars have multiple fuse boxes. If you know which fuse to remove, it should cut the circuit and turn off the alarm.
4. Rip Out the Wires
You could rip out the wirings if you installed the nuisance alarm as an aftermarket product. Cut them to disable the alarm.
If it was packaged with the car, you could usually find the wires for the alarm in the steering column. Remove the plastic cover, locate the wires, and then cut them to disable the alarm. Be careful with this step, though, as you might miss the wrong wire and trigger the immobilizer.
5. Remove the Battery Terminals
An almost foolproof way to disable the alarm is to go straight to its power source, the battery. However, a separate battery powers some alarms secured somewhere in the car.
This method is pretty straightforward. Open the bonnet, and disconnect the wires from the battery’s positive terminal using a wrench. Hopefully, this will turn off the alarm.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Can I Open My Car Door with A Chip Key?
Many car owners do not know a traditional key is hidden in their chip keys. There is usually a small tab at one end of the key FOB. If you pull it out, you will find the traditional car key. You can then insert the key back into the sleeve in reverse. You can use the chip key like a traditional car key.
While hidden from view, the keyhole is there. You can find it on the door handle. There is a small plastic cover at the end of the handle. You can take it off to expose the keyhole.
This still works because the transponder in the key, which works with little electricity, can disable the engine immobilizer. This will allow you to start the car.
Can I Hotwire a Car with a Chipped Key?
Car models with chipped keys won’t run without the chip or transponder within the proximity of the RF receiver.
If the receiver does not sense the transponder, it will not disable the engine immobilizer. The engine will not turn over even if you tap the starter motor directly to the battery. This makes modern cars nearly impossible to hotwire.
Can You Get Replacement Chip Keys from Stores Like AutoZone?
You can get traditional keys duplicated in AutoZone and other auto supply stores. However, you cannot get replacement chip keys from them. Car manufacturers are the only ones that make transponder chips. Other companies cannot replicate or reprogram them, at least legally.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Replacement Chip Key?
A chip key, especially one that has a laser-cut security key, is quite expensive to get a replacement copy for. You can expect to pay at least $125 for a replacement key and have it reprogrammed for your car.
Can I Program the Transponder Myself?
You have to use specialized tools and computers to replicate the programming used by the manufacturer. The required equipment for making chip keys are trade secrets. This means that private individuals cannot obtain them legally.
In Closing – How to Start My Car Without Chip Key
Chip keys, also called transponders or key FOBs, provide plenty of conveniences and additional security for car owners.
However, they can still cause a couple of problems, namely dead batteries, loss or theft, or they can break. You cannot start the car when these things happen and may not get inside.
However, there are some ways that you can still get the engine running, even without the chip key. Note some of these methods involve damaging the ignition switch and maybe even cutting a couple of wires. Moreover, there is a possibility of them not even working.
If you lose or damage the chip key, the best action is to contact the car dealership. This is so you can get a replacement. Not only is this option legal, but it is also guaranteed to work. It might cost a lot of money, but you also do not run the risk of permanently immobilizing your car.