Making a car theft-resistant not-too-expensively

Some people stole my pickup ('87 Toyota) last week. The cops called me last night: they found it. I picked it up this morning at a tow yard ($300! ‘Discount Towing’).

The thieves had jammed something into the ignition switch that made it possible to start the car with anything. The guy in the yard demonstrated this by starting it with a bit of my house key stuck no more than a half-inch in.

I drove it home and removed the cable from the ignition coil to the distributor; it’s on a shelf in my kitchen.

Can I buy a harder-to-force ignition switch? Are there other measures I can use to make it harder to steal without paying for lo-jack or on-star, etc?

You can hide a ‘‘kill’’ switch anywhere. Then only you know where it is and they can’t start it.
The problem I’ve seen with that is the thieves get frustrated that they cant start it and destroy everything they can like slicing upholstery, breaking windows, slashing tires, keying paint, busting and breaking all the dashboard etc .

Find any ignition circuit wire, cut it , and put an extenstion set of wires to a hidden switch which connects that circuit.

You can make it less interesting than the cars or trucks around it, but If a thief wants your truck, he can take it. You might consider the Club. It’s obvious on your steering wheel, and the thief will need bolt cutters to cut the steering wheel. Things like Lo-Jack and fuel cutoff systems are a lot more expensive. Maybe a hidden switch under the seat or dash that you flip to make the ignition connection. But if it is convenient for you, they can find it if they want to.

I saw a demonstration of how poorly “The Club” protects a car once. Expensive bolt cutters were not needed. All they used was a hacksaw. Took maybe 10 seconds. Once the wheel is split, the club pops right out. Of course then they still have to pop the switch, and the club does LOOK like a big deterrent to a non-professional car thief.

I’d go with the aforementioned hidden kill switch.

Still, someone needs bolt cutters or a hack saw. I never said it was difficult to bypass. Just that it’s not as easy to steal as a car without one.

If you put in a kill switch. You may want to also add a kill switch for the tail lights/brake lights. I did this to a friends Ford F150. It was stolen and striped. When he got it back. I put the kill switch in and add the light kill switch. It was stolen again. They did not find the kill switch. Their way of hot wiring bypassed my kill switch. They did know that the taillights were out. Cops got them 2 miles from his house. Turns out it was the same guys that took it the first time.

I presume the point on the kill switch for taillights/brake lights was to attract the attention of police? How about a kill switch on the headlights also? That might even get the thieves to abandon a vehicle when they realize they don’t have headlights. And police would certainly notice lack of headlights.

The best way to install a kill switch on a single coil ignition system, with or without electronic ignition, is the install the switch to the ground circuit of the coil, not the positive. If you rig the switch to ground the coil, the coil will not fire. Hotwiring the coil or the ignition switch will have no effect. If you can tap the ground line within a wire harness, or just add an extra wire to the negative terminal as if it were supposed to be there, most thieves will never catch on.

The coil works by opening and closing the ground side of the coil. The positive side gets constant power from the ignition switch. The points or ignition module will close the ground circuit to induce a magnetic field within the coil primary. The points or ignition module will open the circuit, the field will collapse, and a spark is induced through the secondary. If the ground cannot open, the field cannot collapse, and a spark will not happen.

Yep a kill switch is the easiest and cheapest thing to do. I bought one for the kids car for about $5 at checker and put it in myself. I wired it to the fuel pump circuit under the dash. Just find the right wire and cut it in two and run wires to the switch to connect the circuit again. I installed it in a recess in the dash above the ash tray. But it can be anywhere as long as its not obvious. Someone tries to steal the car it just won’t start. They’ll run the battery down, but it won’t go anywhere.

Like we said though, you got it back in about a week but had to pay the tow/impound fee.

I got my truck back in a week but I need a new ignition lock cylinder, a few hundred worth of tools, they ripped out some of the wiring, I paid a $300 towing fee.

Instead of a kill switch how about I just remove the fuses for the headlights and tail lights and the connection for the ignition switch (the switch the clutch makes that allows the car to start)? Would that fox them?

Do you want to do that every time you get out of the truck? That’ll get old fast.

You can wire in a $5 kill switch right to that clutch switch if you want and you don’t need to fix the ignition switch. Just use the screwdriver.

On new car lots here in Calif they modify the wiring of the “start” wire (the wire that gets energized when you turn the key to “start”) to prevent this kind of theft from their lot. I discovered this when one day my Corolla wouldn’t even turn over, when the day prior it was cranking fine. I traced the start signal from the ignition switch, and I discovered this gadget installed on the lower dashboard, which didn’t appear the shop manual schematics. I’d hit it w/my knee and broke it apparently, preventing the engine from cranking.

You could do something similar I expect. What they do is they cut the start wire, then install an electrical connector to both ends of the cut wire. To start the car you have to put the matching connector on. Sort of like a kill switch, only there’s no switch the thief might find and enable. A thief would need to find the connector, and have the matching connector.

This isn’t exactly a kill function. The engine would run, but it won’t crank. It wouldn’t prevent someone from push starting it for example. But what thief is going to try to push start a car that won’t even crank? And it can all be done with the wiring under the dashboard, no engine wiring involved.

The best anti-theft device is one that draws attention to the vehicle as it’s being stolen and driven.

If you wire a switch that causes the horns to blare whenever the ignition is on, that’ll draw attention.


A 6 foot length of timber chain pad locked to the steering wheel will discourage most crooks from stealing a car when it has no particular appeal other than being easily stolen.

I’d go with the kill switch on the fuel pump. Rocketman

This pickup has a mechanical fuel pump.