8 easy steps to DIY hotwire a car

Jun 14, 2019 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips
Check out the step-by-step process of hotwiring a car.

Most of the cars today are sleek and so well-furnished that you would need someone with acquired skills if you want it to be hotwired. Manufacturers these days invest a lot of time, idea and sturdy material to make cars harder to infiltrate and almost impossible to steal.

One of the things they figured was that hiding the wires responsible for starting the car would finally eliminate crimes where the stolen cars were hotwired. The method used in producing cars now is different from how it was back in the good old days.

Back then, hotwiring was one of the most effective ways to steal a car. That’s why hotwiring is only proven effective on older units that were produced during the mid-90s.

A good side to learning how to hot wire is that you still manage to drive your car even if you’ve lost your keys. Hotwiring a car may seem hard but we made the process simple and easy to understand - just read the guide Philkotse.com has prepared below.

How to hot-wire a car

Be reminded though that it is unlawful to hotwire a vehicle you do not own and you may be sentenced to imprisonment. Forced entry into a vehicle without the capability to show documents that confirm your ownership is also punishable by law.

If you are determined to learn how to hotwire an old model vehicle, make sure that you’ll only use the skill for legal reasons and you have documents to prove it.

Step #1

Get inside the car and sit in front of the steering wheel. This method of hot-wiring will work only if you find the steering column. The steering column is the base where your steering wheel is attached.

It’s like the neck that stretches out the steering wheel to you. If you still don’t know where the steering column is, you better check your car’s respective manual.

hotwire a car step 1

Get inside the car and sit in front of the steering wheel

Step #2

Once you locate the steering column, use matching screws to remove the cover. The bolts are usually concealed but you should be able to see it if you adjust the driver’s seat all the way back. You can just kneel or sit just below the steering wheel and then use a #2 Phillips-type screwdriver to loosen the plastic cover. 

Removing bolts

Once you locate the steering column, use matching screws to remove the cover

>>> Worth to note: Essential tools needed in a car tool kit for DIY car maintenance

Step #3

Locate the wiring harness connector. This should look like three bundles of multi-colored wires that are all tied up to plastic cube-like connectors. This should be easy to recognize once you open the steering column.

This may look intimidating but all you need to know is what those wires are for and which bundle will help you start the car.

  • One of the bundles leads to the mounted controls that are closest to the steering column. These are the lights, cruise control, and gauges along with other indicators.
  • The other bundles of wires should be connected to the opposite side of the first bundle mentioned above. This controls the windshield wipers, heat warmers and other systematic responses on that side.
  • The third one is what we should be looking for. It leads to the ignition, to the battery and to the steering column.

different colored wires

Locate the wiring harness connector

Step #4

Take the bundle of wire that we need for starting the car and separate it slightly so you won’t get confused. From here on out, you can safely assume that one of those wires provides the power for the ignition, one will be for the starter and there would also be the ignition wires among others.

We have a few assumptions as to which wire is which, but you can safely refer to the manual to know which color corresponds to which setting.

The wires are usually brown for the ignition and the yellow wires are for the starter in most classic cars. This leaves the red ones for the battery but we sternly advise you refer to your manual.

Step #5

With the wires’ identity safely determined, take your battery wire and secure it in your hands firmly. Carefully strip about 1 inch of the cover to reveal the bronze inside and twist these together.

Secure this with electrician’s tape and make sure that they do not, under any circumstances, touch any metal objects or surfaces. This will be responsible for getting the electric energy into the ignition components.

hot wire illustration

Carefully strip about 1 inch of the cover to reveal the bronze inside and twist these together

Step #6

Take the ignition wire (which you identified using the manual) and connect it to the battery wire. This will light up the whole dashboard and turn on the radio. It’s as if you just turned the key to your car but haven’t actually started the engine yet. To start the engine you would need to create a literal spark.

>>> Read more: How to jump start your car in 4 easy steps

Step #7

This part is the most dangerous portion so proceed with extreme caution. Take the starter wire and strip a one-half inch of the protective cover to reveal the inside. You should also keep in mind that this is a live wire and just one wrong step could lead you to seriously injure yourself.

Hold this without letting it touch anything or any surface. Then slowly touch it with the end of the two battery wires you tied together earlier. Do not attempt to twist the three wires together. Just carefully spark it against each other until it eventually starts the car.

live wires

You should also keep in mind that this is a live wire and just one wrong step could lead you to seriously injure yourself

Step #8

Once the engine is on, revise it for some time so it warms up and doesn’t die on you. If it does, you would need to redo the last step. The engine should be okay soon after and you can safely undo the starter wire and drive off. If you feel like leaving the car, you can simply undo the twisted battery wires and the engine will turn off.

Without a key, you would have to do the same process to turn the engine on again. Make sure you hide the wires from plain sight so people who pass by don’t see it and assume you stole the vehicle or worse, they may try to steal the vehicle from you.

>>> Click here to get more helpful tips and advice for car owners.


Hanna Sanchez

Hanna is one of the most competitive swimmers in the country during her day. It was not long before she discovered her passion for the automotive industry as well. Nowadays, she balances her passion through writing as well as coaching.