How To Bypass Ignition Switch On ATV? [4 Effective Methods]

The ATV or All Terrain Vehicle is meant for rough riding and exploration. And during one of those adventures, you might crash into a situation where you cannot use the ignition to start the car. What should you do then?

To bypass ATV’s ignition switch, you can use the pull or kick start. If your modern ATV doesn’t have that feature, you can hotwire it. Assuming you’re unable to even do that, you can jam a screwdriver into the ignition and turn it to start the engine. 

The methods in the following discussion can be easily used to steal an ATV. However, we hope you will only use this knowledge to escape imminent dangers. 

When Do You Need To Bypass Ignition Switch On ATV?

Normally, you wouldn’t be bypassing the ignition switch of your ATV. Doing so is illegal if someone doesn’t have the proper authority on the vehicle. However, there are some situations where you might not have any other option- 

  • You bought an old ATV, which didn’t have an ignition key or had the wrong one.
  • To bypass a kill switch (post-crash or racing). 
  • Start the ATV without moving the clutch to neutral (accidents or cold weather).
  • The owner has lost the key (or it isn’t working) and must immediately move their ATV from a spot. 
  • Your ignition switch is broken or faulty. 

An ATV owner must understand that starting the engine this way isn’t ideal. You can do significant damage to your vehicle’s starting mechanism. So, only try the following methods during emergencies. 

Common Methods To Safely Bypass Ignition Switch On ATV 

Most people will use their pull or kick-start to bypass the ignition switch. If your ATV doesn’t have that system, ‘Hotwiring’ is your next best option. Other methods include breaking the ignition switch or replacing it altogether. 

1. Use Alternative Starting Methods

Usually, older ATVs have a cord or lever in the vehicle. When you pull or kick it, the cord/lever will turn a crankshaft and create a spark. Thus igniting the combustion chamber and starting the engine.

But before that, you have to disconnect the ignition switch from the engine. Otherwise, it will prevent the pull or kick-start from working. 

First, remove the front hood cover of your ATV. This will give you access to the electrical components underneath. 

You will notice that a wire connects the ignition switch and the engine. Unplug it, and you can easily start the engine with your pull or kick start. If you have trouble locating the wire, take the help of the ATV’s user manual. 

Many drivers are not used to the pull or kick-start feature. As a result, they’re likely to damage the start.

To ensure the cord doesn’t tear, stop pulling it when you are close to the endpoint. You don’t have to pull all the way to the end. Going more than halfway would be enough. 

In case of the kick start, push the lever down with your foot. When you feel the lever resisting, give it a strong kick. You might have to pull the cord or kick the lever several times to start your ATV. 

2. Hotwire Your ATV

Hotwiring an ATV essentially means you will modify the circuit that starts your vehicle to make it independent of the ignition switch. 

In other words, you will directly connect the battery and the ATV’s electrical system. Thus, you take the ignition switch out of the circuit. 

To do this, remove the coverings around your ATV’s ignition switch. You will find multiple wires connecting to it. 

Carefully identify the kill switch and ground wire. These are wires you will not connect together. 

These wires are usually striped-black and green. Disconnect these so they don’t cause a short when you hotwire the ATV. 

Once you rule these out, you are left with two remaining wires. One of them is most often red. 

You will notice that the wire fuses with 12V DC from the battery. Cut this one and the other wire and splice them together. 

After splicing the wires, secure the connection using electrical tapes. Using wire nuts to connect the wires is an excellent option. Once connected, use the electric start button to fire up your ATV. 

Some experts talk about using a jumper wire to hotwire the ATV. The process is more or less the same. Instead of splicing the wires, you will use a jumper cable to create the connections. 

However, hotwiring the ATV will take away the driver’s control over the power supply. 

So, don’t forget to disconnect the wires as soon as the emergency situation resolves. Or, you might install an on/off switch. 

3. Bypassing The Solenoid

In many cases, the ignition switch doesn’t work due to a faulty solenoid. Here, taking the solenoid out of the picture can help you to start the ATV. 

The solenoid is a coil of wire with a metal core. It uses electromagnetism to activate the starter motor upon receiving a signal from the ignition switch.

To bypass the solenoid, simply cut the wires that connect the solenoid to the starter motor. Then identify the red wire from the battery and connect it to the wire you cut. 

You have now made a direct connection between the battery and the starter motor. Hopefully, you will be able to start the vehicle with the starter button. 

However, the absence of the solenoid can put too much electrical stress on the starter motor. So, fix your faulty solenoid as soon as possible. 

4. Break The Ignition

You should only attempt this if you cannot go through with the other methods. Remember that you will be essentially destroying the ignition and will have no choice but to install a new one. 

Get a screwdriver, scissors, or any other metal object that resembles the flat and thinness of your ATV’s ignition key. 

Drive it into the ignition keyhole and hammer it a little to ensure it goes in properly and sticks. 

Now, turn it forcefully like a key, and hopefully, your ATV will start. However, this method has a lesser possibility of working compared to other methods. 

Unless it’s an emergency, you must install a new ignition switch instead of bypassing or breaking it. The price of a new ignition switch and the key is $20-50. The labor cost for the installation is around $50-100. 

What Are The Problems Of Starting Your ATV Without The Key

Bypassing the ignition is never recommended in non-emergency situations. First of all, you can end up with damages that cost more than fixing the switch. Plus, there are legal consequences of your actions too- 

  • When you’re hotwiring the ATV only because you forgot the key, you can damage an otherwise good ignition system. 
  • Cutting the wrong wires during the hotwiring attempt can make your ATV lose certain features like light and horn. 
  • Tampering with the ignition can violate the terms of your ATV’s warranty or insurance. 
  • Your activity might look suspicious and land you in legal trouble before you get the chance to explain yourself 
  • A hotwired ATV is easy to steal since no one needs a key to start it. 


Hopefully, you will be able to successfully bypass the ignition switch of your ATV during emergencies. Have some more queries? Ask here.

How do you manually trigger the ignition switch of an ATV?

First, take the ignition cylinder out of its socket. The cylinder is divided into two parts. The bottom part has a set of metal connectors inside it. If you can align them correctly to mimic the ATV’s key pattern, it can trigger the vehicle to start.

If I don’t have the key code of the lost key, do I need to replace the ATV’s whole ignition system?

No, you don’t. Your manufacturer’s database can provide the mechanic with the key code for your ignition after obtaining your consent. If that’s not possible, your mechanic will disassemble the ignition and study the lock pattern to forge the key.  

How do I jump the solenoid without cutting the wires?

It’s essentially the same process. You won’t directly connect the wires between the battery and the starter. Instead, touch one end of a jumper wire to the solenoid’s battery terminal and the other one to the starter terminal.


The discussion doesn’t want to encourage anyone to bypass the ignition switch on their ATV. 

Meanwhile, you shouldn’t hesitate to do it if the decision means life or death. Be careful not to touch exposed wires, and always use proper tools and protective gear.

Read Also:

How to Bypass CDI Box on Chinese ATV? [Quick ATV Hack]

How To Adjust ATV Shocks Without Tool? [Beginners Guide]

How To Charge ATV Battery Without a Charger? [Power Up Now]

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