General Question

syz's avatar

Is it really that easy to hot wire a car?

Asked by syz (35649points) August 20th, 2009

I was watching a movie last night and the protagonist got into a car, yanked some wires from under the steering column without looking, touched two wires together, and the car started – 10 seconds, max. I’ve also seen movies where a knife rammed into the key slot of the starter makes them start. Do these things work? Is it really that easy?

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11 Answers

Phobia's avatar

Hot wiring a car isn’t really that hard, you just have to know which wire is which, and that can vary from model to model. It would take longer than how fasts they do it in the movies of course, but it’s still pretty simple.

Here’s a link: Hot wiring

Some can be started with a screwdriver and hammer quickly at the key slot, but I doubt any newer models would fall under that method.

EDIT: Actually, I think it would take even longer on newer models considering all the new components and safety features on them.

El_Cadejo's avatar

From what i understand mustangs are extraordinarily easy to hot wire.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

most cars are very easy to hot wire, newer models get a little bit more tricky though, but by no means is it really hard.

picking locks though, that’s tricky, takes some practice.

syz's avatar

Of course, I’m not planning to steal a car – I just thought the whole thing seemed rather unlikely.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

lol a buddy of mine is a locksmith, I’ve never seen this guy carry a house key with him, he just breaks into his own apartment every night…. he taught me how to pick a handful of different locks, and once you get the hang of it it’s pretty easy, the concept’s behind it are simple, it’s just a matter of getting a feel for it.
hot wiring a car is much the same effect, if you don’t know what you’re doing it seems confusing, but once you learn what’s going on it’s really basic.

robmandu's avatar

The last sentence of Step 6 from @Phobia‘s link is what I notice is typically missing from most movies. I guess for simplicity, movie makers feel it’s okay to combine Step 5 and 6 into one cool-looking motion.

Typically, a movie will show the person:
– yank wires from under the dash
– put two bare ends together (often with eye-catching sparks)
– wait and listen for the starter to engage the engine—meaning those wires were for the starter motor, not for running the engine itself
– twist those same two starter motor wires together

You don’t keep the key in the ignition turned all the way after the engine is running. That’d burn out your starter motor pretty quick.

Randy's avatar

One of the trickiest parts is breaking the steering colum to get to the wires. There are also other ways to get vehicles going. You can start many vehicles with a clutch by just simply getting them rolling and popping the clutch and throwing it in gear. All that takes is timing. There are several ways underneath the hood as well that are simple but you’re not very hidden that way.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Newer cars have immobilizers built into the PFI computer. Those are harder to steal, but not impossible. If the car was built recently enough to have an ignition lock on the steering column, a more realistic scene would be for the thief to pop out the lock with a slide hammer. Or if you’re Arnold playing The Terminator, you just rip the steering column apart with your bare hands.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex lol arnold’s a bad ass.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 , too bad he can’t govern Cali like that.

ShoulderPadQueen's avatar

that always makes me laugh when i see that. they make it look REAL easy for sure. lol

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