how to start a car without a key

How to Start a Car Without a Key?

Starting a car without a key can be a useful skill to have in certain situations. Whether you’ve misplaced your key, lost the key fob, or encountered a key-related issue, knowing alternative methods to start your car can save you from being stranded. In this article, we will explore different techniques to start a car without a key, as well as options for starting a car without a keyless key.

Method 1: Screwdriver and Hammer

One common method to start a car without a key involves using a screwdriver and hammer. However, it’s important to note that this method can potentially damage the car’s ignition switch, so caution must be exercised. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Disable the lock pins: Gain access to the ignition by inserting a screwdriver or a flat metal piece into the keyhole, approximately 2/3 inches deep. Carefully maneuver the tool to disable the lock pins within the ignition.
  • Turn the ignition: With the lock pins disabled, use the screwdriver or metal piece to turn the ignition, mimicking the action of a key. Take care not to apply excessive force or cause any further damage.

If a screwdriver is not available, other suitable flat metal objects can be used as alternatives. However, it’s essential to exercise caution and avoid damaging the ignition switch further.

Method 2: Hotwiring the Engine

Hotwiring is a technique commonly associated with older car models. It involves bypassing the ignition system to start the engine. However, it’s worth noting that newer car models often have advanced security measures that make hotwiring impractical. Here’s an overview of the steps involved:

  • Remove the steering wheel column plastic cover: Locate the screws on either side of the steering wheel column cover and remove them. This will provide access to the car’s ignition system.
  • Consult the wiring diagram: Before attempting to hotwire the engine, it’s crucial to consult the wiring diagram specific to your car model. This will ensure a proper understanding of the wiring connections and prevent damage to electrical components.
  • Connect the battery and power wires: Identify the battery wires (typically red) and the ignition-related wires (often brown or yellow) based on the wiring diagram. Cut the ends of the battery wires and power wires, then twist the exposed ends together to create a connection. This should allow the engine to start.

It’s important to exercise caution and avoid faulty wiring connections that could potentially damage electrical components or cause a safety hazard.

Method 3: Red Coil Wire Technique

The red coil wire technique is suitable for individuals with a good understanding of car mechanics. It involves applying power directly to the ignition coil to start the engine. Here are the steps involved:

  • Refer to the wiring diagram: Obtain the wiring diagram specific to your car model to ensure accurate connections. Each model may have different wiring configurations, so it’s crucial to refer to the diagram to avoid damaging any components.
  • Locate the red coil wire: Open the car’s hood and locate the red coil wire. This wire is connected to the ignition coil and is usually identifiable by its color.
  • Connect the red coil wire: Use a jump starter cable to connect the positive battery terminal to the red coil wire. This supplies 12 volts of power directly to the coil.
  • Locate the starter solenoid wire: Find the starter solenoid wire within the steering wheel area after removing the steering wheel column cover. Connect this wire to the positive battery terminal.
  • Crank the engine: Once the connections are secure, the engine should crank and start running.

It’s crucial to emphasize the need for caution and a proper understanding of the wiring diagram when attempting the red coil wire technique to prevent any damage to the car’s electrical system.

Starting a Car Without Keyless Key

In cases where the keyless key is unavailable or not functioning properly, there are alternative methods to start the car. Here are some options:

  • Manually unlock the door: Attempt to unlock the door using the smart key. Even if the battery is dead, holding the smart key close to the door handle may provide enough power to unlock it.
  • Use the mechanical key: If the smart key has a mechanical key component, locate it within the key assembly and use it to manually unlock the doors.
  • Starting the engine: If the smart key’s RF chip is detected near the start engine button, the engine can still be started even if the key fob’s battery is dead. The RF chip does not require a strong battery to be detected by the car’s sensors and immobilizer circuit.

However, it’s important to note that losing the key fob entirely may restrict the ability to operate the car unless the automaker provides alternative methods such as mobile app-based access.

Types of Car Keys and Cost to Replace

Car keys come in different types, and the cost of replacement can vary. Here are two common types of car keys:

  • Traditional Key: Older vehicles typically use traditional keys without remote control functionality. These keys are simple to duplicate and replace, but they offer limited security. The cost of replacing a traditional key is usually relatively low.
  • Remote-Controlled Key: Many modern car keys incorporate remote control features, allowing functions like locking/unlocking doors and disabling/arming the security system. Replacing a remote-controlled key can be more expensive compared to a traditional key, especially if the key has advanced features specific to the car model.

The cost of replacing a key depends on factors such as the type of key, the car model, and where the replacement is obtained. Consulting a locksmith or authorized dealer can provide more accurate cost estimates based on your specific situation.


Knowing how to start a car without a key can be a valuable skill in certain circumstances. Whether it’s using a screwdriver and hammer, hotwiring the engine (for older models), or utilizing alternative methods with a keyless key, being prepared can help avoid being stranded. However, it’s important to exercise caution, refer to wiring diagrams, and consider seeking professional assistance when necessary.


Some older car models without advanced security measures can be started without a key using specific methods. However, newer car models often require the original key or professional assistance.

Starting a car without a key can be considered illegal, as it involves bypassing security measures. It’s essential to check local laws and regulations regarding car access and use.

Yes, attempting to start a car without a key can potentially damage the ignition switch, electrical components, or even pose a safety hazard. Caution and knowledge are crucial when using alternative methods.

Ensuring the security of your car involves taking preventive measures, such as parking in secure areas, utilizing steering wheel locks or immobilizers, and being cautious with key storage and access.

Yes, a professional locksmith specializing in car keys can assist in situations where all car keys are lost. They can provide replacement keys or reprogram key fobs based on the car model and security systems in place.

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