How To Bypass The Ignition Switch On An ATV

Jacket on, boots laced, and gloves ready, you are about to jump on your ATV for another adventure. There is only one problem; you just can't seem to find your keys! You have searched around the house and even blamed the pesky squirrel that steals the shiny ornaments on your window sill. Fear not! There are plenty of ways that you can bypass the ignition and go about your journey.

ATV Ignitions: An Overview

When you turn the key inside the ignition, it opens a circuit that allows a spark to ignite. This spark then starts the internal combustion, which brings your ATV's engine to life. Of course, you can do this without a key, but it takes a little bit of know-how and a few tools to get the job done.

If you are in a situation where you have lost your ATV keys, use one of the following methods to get yourself going: 

  • Enable the Pull or Kick Start
  • Hot Wiring the ATV
  • Disassemble the Ignition to Trigger It Manually
  • Use Scissors or a Screwdriver
  • Replace the Ignition Switch

Keep in mind that these techniques are recommended as a last resort and shouldn't be performed regularly.

Enable The Pull Or Kick Start

Unfortunately, not all ATVs come with a pull or kick start. And if your ATV isn't one of them, then this option won't be much help to you. However, if you are one of the lucky ones, this might be the quickest and easiest method. Begin by removing the front hood that will expose all the electrical components and locate the wire that connects the engine to the ignition switch and unplug it. You can now use the pull or kick start to start the engine.

Hot Wiring An ATV

Hot wiring an ATV will depend entirely on how your specific ATV is built. However, the main goal is to change the wires to bypass the ignition switch and leave the circuit open, which will allow the spark to start the engine. There are a couple of ways to this, but the general procedure is as follows:

  • Locate the wires coming out of the ignition; the first wire is often fused with a 12V DC from the battery. Usually, the wire is red, but confirm this by matching it with the output on the main fuse.
  • From here, you must remove one of the remaining wires. Identify the kill switch wire color and find its twin color in the ignition switch connector in the wiring harness. This wire is usually green. Do not splice this wire!
  • The second wire you want to avoid splicing is the kill switch wire. Identify the color of the kill switch wire in your wiring harness and CDI connector. This wire is commonly black with a white stripe.
  • This should leave you with only one wire left to splice with the first wire you identified.
  • Disconnect the ground and kill the wires mentioned above to prevent them from shorting and kill the spark.
  • Cut the wires you identified and connect them using tape.

Make sure to disconnect the wires once you finish riding to ensure the lights and fuel pump turn off, which prevents the battery from being drained.

Disassemble The Ignition To Trigger It Manually

As the title suggests, this method involves you taking apart the ignition. So if you don't plan to replace it or don't possess the knowledge to put it back together, it is best to avoid this method. If you choose to go ahead, begin by separating the ignition from your ATV. The ignition should look like a cylinder you can dismantle. 

Once you have removed the bottom half of the ignition, the other half should have a piece inside with metal connectors. Take those connectors out and figure out how it lines up with the ignition. If done correctly, you should be able to use the connectors exactly as you would a key to start the ATV.

Use Scissors Or A Screwdriver

This method is pretty straightforward. Essentially, you have to jam and shimmy a screwdriver or the blade of a scissor into the ignition and twist it as you would with a key. It is a popular method, but it comes with irreparable consequences. You can pretty much consider your ignition broken after this, as any tool thin enough to fit inside it will make it start. So unless you are in a position to replace your ignition soon, you might want to skip this idea.

Replace The Ignition Switch

Relax, there aren't any mechanical marvels to be accomplished here. If you aren't in an emergency situation where you need to start your ATV, simply have the ignition replaced. New ignitions are inexpensive and easy to fit. Plus, they come with a new set of keys.

Have A New Key Made

Without a doubt, this is the best option. If you are in a situation where you are not close to your residence, you can still opt to go around the corner and find a locksmith to craft one for you in a matter of minutes. If there’s no rush, you could always contact the ATV dealership, where they will likely be able to send a new set of keys to your home after sharing the VIN or model number. If all else fails, you can also remove your ignition and take It to a locksmith, which will prevent the hassle of towing the ATV.


While ATVs are traditionally easy to start without a key, that also makes them easy to steal. Keep this in mind when storing your ATV or leaving it anywhere unattended. However, if you have no other option but to bypass the ATV's ignition, the above tips might just come in handy.