How To Start A Car Without Key

Car Hacks 101: A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Start A Car Without Key

If you are someone who owns a car, at some point, you would have wondered. How to start a car without key? This is a common thought that occurs when you misplace your car keys. A lot of car owners face this problem. So, is there a solution to this problem? 

The quick answer is yes! You can start a car without using its keys. There are three ways you can access your car without a key, and you will learn all about it in this article. 

But before we get into the main stuff, it’s important to learn the situations where you can start a car without key, common problems with car keys, and so on. 

Let’s further discuss the ultimate question of unlocking a car without its keys in this article. Keep reading, folks!

What Are The Various Types Of Car Keys? 

You may have noticed the evolution of cars over the last couple of years. With the development of automotive technology, we can also see a change in the types of car keys. 

What originally started as a basic, conventional car key that does not offer much security has now developed into a digital type of car key that can be used through your phone. Let’s take an instant look at how car keys have evolved. 

  • The conventional car key
  • The push-button car key
  • The transmitter car key
  • The rolling codes transmitter car keys
  • The smart car key
  • The digital car key

The conventional, traditional car key with minimal safety as it was made with metal and had a basic pattern. Moreover, it has no encryptions for safety, and anyone can just copy the design. 

The latest digital model, however, is by far the one with maximum security. This key eliminates the need for a separate car key. You can easily lock and unlock your car using your phone. And we’ve always got our phone with us.

In What Situations Can You Start A Car Without A Key?

Normally, automotive manufacturers make sure that people cannot access a car without its key. It is designed in this way to minimize theft and robbery. However, you will need to know how to start a car without key during these two situations.  

Situation #01 You’ve Lost Your Car Keys

This is a common problem that all car owners have faced at one point in time. This can be a major inconvenience but knowing how to start a car without the keys might save you. 

Situation #02 Your Ignition Switch Has Failed You

The ignition switch is the place where you put your car key to start the vehicle. Normally, when you turn the key, it activates all the systems in the car, and the car starts. 

However, a faulty ignition switch can delay starting as it does not activate the systems properly. 

How To Start A Car Without Key: 3 Foolproof Ways

When you find yourself in a sticky situation, knowing how to start a car without key can benefit you. As mentioned earlier, there are three major ways of starting the car without using the key. 

Technique #01

This is probably the easiest technique among the three methods. Grab your toolbox because you’ll need the following tools.

  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer

Step 1: Using the screwdriver and hammer, start to drill from the inner flaps of the ignition system. (Drill 2/3 inches deep)

Step 2: Once you have drilled enough, you can find the lock pieces. Remove these pieces and continue drilling till they set into place again. 

Step 3: Use the head of the screwdriver to insert and start the car. However, if you don’t have a screwdriver, you can also use any flat metal object. 


This may be a very easy technique but be careful while drilling. Therefore, make sure you do not cause any serious damage to the ignition switch. Additionally, if you don’t have a drill, use a hammer and follow the same steps.

Technique #02

This is the most common way to start a car, as shown in the movies. That’s right, folks; it’s time to hotwire!

Step 1: Unscrew and remove the plastic cover on the column of the steering wheel. By doing so, you will enter the ignition system.

Step 2: Strap into protective gloves. Ordinarily, the red wire connects to the wires in the battery. The yellow and brown wires connect to the ignition system. 

Step 3: Using a cutter, cut the ends of the battery wires and the power wires of the ignition system. 

Step 4: Twist and connect the ends of the wires. 

If you have followed these steps properly, your car will start instantly. 

Technique #03

Beginners can do the first two methods, but you’ll need to be a little familiar with the hood parts of the car to do this one.

Step 1: Open the car’s hood and find the underwood. Once you find it, look for the red wire. 

Step 2: Use the cable to jump-start and attach it to the positive end of the battery. Connect it with the red wire to the positive end of the coil. 

Step 3: Find the starter solenoid by unscrewing the steering wheel. Once you locate the solenoid, attach it to the positive end of the car battery. 

Step 4: From the solenoid switch, remove the wire that connects to the ignition switch. 

Step 5: With the help of a screwdriver, short circuit the positive end of the solenoid switch to the ignition switch. 

If you’ve followed these carefully, your car should have started. 

Common Reasons For A Faulty Key

We as people tend to take a lot of things for granted till they stop working. Your car keys are the perfect example of this. They might appear to be small and meaningless, but they are extremely significant. 

Car keys are used to unlock the doors, start the engine, and overall, just protect your car from thefts. A lot of people do not realize its importance till they stop working. 

When you have a problem with your car keys, it can get extremely frustrating. The best thing to do here is to identify the problem and rectify it. 

Listed below are some of the most common car key problems and their solutions. 

Mangled Car Keys

When you find it difficult to unlock your car, one of the simplest problems is because you may be trying to open it with a pair of damaged car keys. When people hear the word “damaged car keys,” they immediately think of a pair of keys that are destroyed beyond repair. 

They tend to forget that car keys don’t always have to look damaged to not function well. Take a close look at your car keys. Do you notice the patterns and grooves on the key? These are not just for aesthetic appeal. 

Each car has a different pattern that helps you unlock your car. None other patterns will do this for you. The pattern on the keys needs to match with the lock’s internal configurations to start your car quickly.

If your car keys are not visibly damaged and split in two, take a look at the grooves. This can happen quite often as the key withstands a lot of wear and tear that comes with it. Sometimes, these patterns might be so worn out that it does not match the lock anymore. 

What Are The Signs?

  • The car does not unlock even when the key is used multiple times
  • It unlocks through other methods
  • The car unlocks when you use a new key or a spare key

How To Fix This Problem?

If your car keys are the problem, purchasing a new pair of keys is the solution. Getting a new key also depends on the type of key you have. 

For example, if you have a traditional/conventional car key, you can easily get a newer replacement. However, if you own a more modern type of key, the process might be a tad bit more complicated than the transponder key.

Make sure that your new transponder key is programmed to function for your vehicle. 

Mangled Car Locks

Sometimes the problem might not be the key but in the lock of the car. This problem occurs more often with traditional keys. However, you may also face this issue if you use remotes or key fobs. 

To identify the lock problem, you will first need to understand how car locks work. Note that your lock has two main parts, which are the lock assembly and lock cylinder. 

If you have experience with car technicalities, you might be able to quickly identify the problem with just a little trial and error. But don’t worry! Even if you are not a professional, you can easily test your lock. 

All you need to do is simply insert the key in its port and turn it. Check if the key turns inside the port. If you find the lock to turn easily without unlocking the car, the problem is most likely with the lock assembly. 

However, if you use a key fob or a remote to open the doors, check whether it can unlock the door. If this is the case, the problem might be with the lock cylinder. 

Additionally, you also need to know that there are other reasons why you might have a problem with your car locks. One example is because of the muck and yuck. If you live in colder places, you might find that after a heavy night of snowing, the car door might even be frozen shut!

Problems like these are the kind that you would face even if you have just purchased a new car. 

What Are The Signs?

  • Not able to insert the car key completely into the port
  • Key can turn all the way, but the car remains locked
  • The car can only open one type of lock

How To Fix This Problem?

If you have identified the problem with the car locks, the best thing you can do is have a professional look at them. They will help by providing you with the required assistance. 

In most cases, the mechanic will repair the lock. However, if they feel the locks are damaged beyond repair, they may completely remove them and install new car locks.

Malfunctioning Ignition System

For a car to start and run properly, both the key and the ignition system need to work together. Sometimes, the problem might be superficial but a little deeper. 

Your car’s ignition system is what helps it to move around. Hence, if there is a problem with this mechanism, the car simply will not start. 

Keep in mind that in this situation, your car will unlock, but it will not start. This is one way you can easily confirm that your car’s ignition system is the problem.

What Are The Signs?

  • Despite the car unlocking, the engine will not start
  • Additionally, the car’s immobilization indicator will be flashing

How To Fix This Problem?

This is another problem that requires the help of your mechanic or locksmith. Based on the intensity of the damage, your mechanic will be able to tell you if the ignition system can be fixed. Sometimes, you may need to fully replace the faulty system with a brand new one. 

Modern Key Is Out Of Battery

Sometimes the problem might be as simple as worn-out batteries. This is a common problem that comes with modern car keys like remotes or key fobs. 

Hence, if you find your car is not recognizing and responding to signals, there is a good chance that your batteries are dead. However, this is a minor problem that can be easily fixed by just changing batteries. 

What Are The Signs?

  • The key fob/remote works only occasionally
  • The remote buttons have to be pressed several times
  • It works only from a close distance

What Is The Solution?

This problem has the simplest solution. All you need to do is remove the old pair of worn-out batteries and replace it with new ones. And, voila! 

Not all batteries can fit your remote/key fob. So remember to read the instructions manual before you purchase a fresh pair of batteries.

Damage To The Key Fob/Remote

Any sort of damage to your key fob/remote key can also cause a lot of trouble. More than physical damage, internal damage tends to cause more issues. 

This can happen by repeatedly dropping the keys on hard surfaces or water, etc. 

What Are The Signs?

  • The buttons do not work like they used to
  • They do not work under pressure

What Is The Solution?

If you suspect your key to extreme internal damage, the best thing to do is have a locksmith or mechanic look it.

Improper Programming

One other common problem with modern keys is the programming. 

In rare cases, the programming between the car and the keys may not be done right. Or they may not be programmed at all!

Hence, your car won’t be able to read the signals and commands properly.

What Are The Signs?

  • The car’s indication for immobilizing will be turned on
  • The key does not work even after a change of batteries

What Is The Solution?

Similar to the previous solution, it is best recommended you get the help of a professional locksmith, a mechanic, or a dealership. By doing so, they will properly re-program the key and have you back on the road in no time!

Using Defective Or Copied Car Keys

Using a copied car key might sound convenient, but it is not. Because even when a key is duplicated, it won’t be the same as the original. Additionally, copying an already duplicated key might not work as well as you’d think.

However, if you decide to do this, make sure you go to a reputable company. Some companies are out to scam you and offer a low-quality car key that won’t last that long. So make sure you always head to a good, established dealership if you want a copy.

What Are The Signs?

  • The pattern of the key has a very obvious difference
  • The new car key works even worse than the old one
  • The key is not correctly programmed

What Is The Solution?

As mentioned earlier, the recommended thing to do is to get help from a reputable company. This applies to all the other car key problems as well. 

Should You Get Your Car Serviced When The Key Doesn’t Work?

It depends on the seriousness of the problem. Sometimes, the problem lies with the car battery. In this case, you only have to replace the old battery with a new one. 

However, other common problems like bad programming, faulty transmitters, rusty ignition switch require professional attention. Even going for the best rust converters can help in keeping the ignition system smooth. 

Keep in mind that starting a car without a key is only a temporary fix. To avoid this situation, we’d recommend you get your car and the problem fixed. 

Summing Up

It is very common for car drivers to experience car troubles. One of the major problems is when you’ve lost your keys and need to start the car without one. 

There are also other reasons why it’s good to know how to do this. After all, car trouble is unpredictable. We hope this informative piece has helped you learn and understand how to start a car without key. 

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