How to Hotwire a Car

We’ve all seen movies where thieves break into someone’s car and attempt to hotwire it. In case you aren’t familiar with the term “hotwire,” it refers to a technique where you bypass the ignition system to start a vehicle without its key. This is done when you want to steal a vehicle that doesn’t belong to you. Either that or you could do it if you’ve lost your key and need to drive somewhere quickly.

Basically, there are two wires inside of the steering column which must be connected to hotwire the vehicle. One of these wires is linked to the starter motor and the other is linked to the ignition. When the wires touch each other, they turn on the starter and many of the other vital components of the vehicle, such as the fuel pump. This gives the engine the ability to start the combustion process and ultimately turn on.

Older cars are a lot easier to hotwire than newer cars. Many car manufacturers have designed their newer vehicles to be more difficult to hotwire because they do a better job of hiding the wiring inside of the steering column. This doesn’t mean it is impossible to hotwire newer cars, but it is a lot more difficult. This is especially true because of all the computer components and electronic sensors which are used now. Modern car keys have computer chips in them which activate the vehicle.

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If you look in the owner’s manual of your vehicle, you can learn about the different colored wires and what they are linked to. Never attempt to alter the wiring unless you know what you’re doing. In the example below, we’ll discuss how to hotwire a vehicle through the steering column.

Step # 1 – We’ll assume you are the rightful owner of the vehicle and are not trying to break into it. So, get into the driver’s seat of your vehicle. Use a Philip’s head screwdriver to remove the screws from the steering column underneath your steering wheel in the rear. You should be able to remove the panels once the screws are out.

Step # 2 – After the panels are removed, you will see a series of bundled wires. Most cars have three bundles of wires in this area. All these wires may look scary to someone who’s never worked on automobiles before. Basically, one bundle links to column-mounted controls like the lights and cruise control. Another bundle links to windshield wipers and other column controls. The last bundle links to the most important things, such as the starter, battery, and ignition. Use your owner’s manual to determine which bundle is which in your vehicle.

Step # 3 – The bundle for the battery, starter, and ignition will be your primary concern. Remove the harness from the top of the bundle. Use the manual to determine which colored wire goes with which of these three components. Take the battery wire and strip roughly 1” of insulation from it using ribbed plyers. Now do the same with the ignition wire. Once you’ve done this, twist the stripped areas of these wires together. Keep them away from other metal areas. You should see the electrical components of your vehicle turn on.

Step # 4 – Now you need to strip the insulation from the starter wire. Only remove about 0.5 inches of it. Be very careful here when stripping the insulation. If you’ve done that successfully, the last step is to touch the end of the starter wire with the twisted ends of the other wires. Remember, only have the starter wire TOUCH those other wires. Don’t twist the starter wire to the others. Once they touch together, you should see a spark almost immediately. Meanwhile, you should hear the car trying to start. Keep touching the wires together until the engine does start.

Step # 5 – The starter wire doesn’t have to keep touching the battery and ignition wires after startup. When you want to turn off the engine, you untwist the battery and ignition wires from each other.

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