How to thwart car thieves with a $10 killswitch

While down significantly from its historic peak in 1991, auto theft is undoubtedly still a problem in the U.S., with 773,139 vehicles stolen in 2017 alone. We often joke that the best protection against theft is a manual transmission (as a growing number of new drivers cannot operate them), but the truth is that accomplished thieves will not be fazed by such a deterrent. The latest video from YouTuber ChrisFix provides us step-by-step instructions to crank up the difficulty by adding a killswitch.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/05/01/killswitch-thwarts-car-thieves

My father used to drive a 1964 Land Rover with a rather clever kill switch, or should I say kill switches.

He had a panel with a row of toggle switches, I believe there were five in total. The switches had three contacts, so they each had a normally open and a normally closed contact. By connecting them in series using some as NO and some as NC it meant you had to get the right combination of the five switches to start the car; this meant there were 32 possible combinations but only one would work. So not only did you have to know the combination, but you first had to know that was why the switches were there.


Back in the '60’s I drove an Austin Healey 100-6. It came from the factory with a kill switch in the trunk. It shut off electrical current to the fuel pump.

@UKAuto - That almost sounds like too much complication! It surely wouldn’t get driven away without permission though.

@UKAuto @Kyle
Sounds like a sobriety test. :sunglasses:

Seriously though, I need to add a switch to one or both of my cars. One of those ‘round to it’ jobs I need to get around to. A good reminder.


It didn’t require a key (no steering lock). At this point we can be certain it won’t be driven off - it hasn’t turned a wheel for forty years, and has been slowly returning to the earth!

1 Like

The first owner installed a killswitch shortly after he purchased the car. I use it when I travel.

After my wife’s 1966 Mustang was stolen in 1985 and she got it back she had a kill switch with cable to a hood lock installed. It had a key like they use on computer cable locks. Before that she used to remove the distributor rotor when she parked the car. We still have the car but no one seems to be interested in stealing it anymore.

1 Like

If The switch is set up proper the perp will srart the car pull out in the street then run out of gas. No bad guy is going to try to get it started in open sight.

Several years ago I had a Chevy pickup that was stolen. A friend suggested a way to deter theft. We installed a wire from the distributer to a hidden switch under the mat and under the seat and ran it back to the other end. When the switch was off, no fire to the plugs. I realize with all the new stuff there is no more distributer as such but this worked just fine.

1 Like

My '76 has a manual fuel pump so I used the rear window heater switch an an electrical kill switch since I don’t use it anymore.

I put in a kill switch for the fuel, ignition, and starter, put them in a Radio Shack project box attached to the shifter console with a Dzus fastener, then take the box in with me if I’m in a sketchy location. I also take the steering wheel with a kit from the steering wheel manufacturer.

It’s easy to find the proper wires on an older car, the auto thieves weren’t so sophisticated, and theft protection was minimal.

I had a series of switches similar to UKauto, that had to be put into the correct position to operate, but that proved too complex and failure prone, so I came up with the box idea. When I remove the box, there’s no way to know that it even exists.

1 Like

Yep, I’ve got kill switches in both my collector cars. The MSD ignition box has an extra wire that you can switch to ground to kill the distributor. One of them also has a switched fuel pump, so that ones doubly protected.

had a 92 prelude si. Hid the switch inside the driver side door vent tunnel. once the driver side door is closed, switch is inaccessible.

1 Like

I didn’t realize there was many old school car thieves left. Around here cars are stolen by use of a roll back wrecker or a hidden hook/support arm in the back of a pickup. It’s a very common sight to see a car with the 4ways flashing/alarm sounding on the back of a wrecker in the tri state area (NY-NJ-CT)

Sounds like a great idea. Think of how much money the insurance company would save on stolen car payouts if they sent us a free $10 switch and instructions.

I’ve had a few cars where the center console contained switches for different items. One time I added fog lights and bought a switch to add to a blank space. If there’s a blank space for a switch in the dash/center console, I’d use that for a kill switch because it would blend right in. Although, a custom switch labeled, “Atomic Batteries”, “Turbines” or “Eject” wouldn’t be bad, either. :smile:

My Dad did the same thing with NO and NC switches in his 70 Dodge Challenger.

battery kill switches using heavy duty relays allows a low amp switch to be placed somewhere handy and inconspicuous, and can use a key switch for additional security. A 10A fused bypass keeps the clock on time/preserves electronic settings etc. (so the car looks like it’s “on”), at least until somebody tries to start it, at which point it goes dead (Also is fire-prevention security during storage). John Twist once opined that the best way to stop a thief is to interrupt their nefarious activity—-they don’t have time to troubleshoot, they’ll move on.

I located a micro switch behind the ash tray in my 68 camaro if the ash tray I don’t smoke so the ash try has to be pulled out slightly for ignition to make contact I also take the coil wire

1 Like