Drive It Like You Stole It

Officer, it’s not what it looks like! I did not steal this car; that’s my key! Why are you getting out your taser?!

For no practical purpose at all, I wanted to see if I could make a screwdriver into a car key. What fun it would be to impersonate the look of a stolen car with a screwdriver jammed into the ignition! And maybe I could empty my glove box all over the seat so it looks like I was scrounging for spare change and prescription drugs too!

Read on to make your own.

Hit the thrift store or a nearby garage sale and get a beat up old screwdriver with a shaft about the same thickness as the width of your car key. Don’t get a new screwdriver; you want one with some character, one that looks like it might have stabbed someone. Cut the shaft down to about an inch long.

Cut a slot 1/4″ – 3/8″ deep in the end of the shaft. This is not a precision job.

Round the end on a grinder or with a file. This will give a nice, smooth transition between the key and the screwdriver shaft.

Take your car key out to the car, put it in the ignition, and mark how far in it needs to go to start the car. Add the depth of the slot you cut in the shaft to that mark, then cut. Oh, and use a spare key for this. Not your one-and-only original.

The key needs to fit into the slot you cut in the screwdriver, so unless you gut a lucky match between your key and your kerf you can either widen the slot or narrow the key. I chose the latter and thinned it on a belt sander. Don’t take off to much because you want the key to fit tightly.

Put some flux on it the key, then tap it into the slot on the screwdriver shaft. Be sure that everything is lined up. With a torch, silver solder the key to the screwdriver.

With a file or grinder, taper the edges of the key to meet the screwdriver shaft. Smooth it with some sandpaper and clean it with a wire wheel in a Dremel.

All done! Now cruise around like the grand theft auto thug you are!

If you make your own, take a picture and email it to me (nathan@ the domain name of this site) and I’ll share it here if you’re willing. Bonus points if the picture includes police in the background ordering you out of your car!

NOTE:  Having this much weight and leverage hanging out of your ignition is not going to be good for it. One bump and your tumblers are toast. It also won’t work if you’ve got a modern car with a chip in the key. Consider yourself warned.

[May 6, 2013] Haha Bird reader Richie emailed pictures of the screwdriver key he made. Nice work!

 

30 Comments on "Drive It Like You Stole It"

  1. Alex C. says:

    Find a stubby screwdriver to limit weight.

  2. Niall Flynn says:

    Must have this, how could I take the chip out of my car fob and do this?

    • No One says:

      You could try acid or acetone to dissolve the plastic. It may (stress MAY) leave a functioning chip behind. You’d have to somehow get the chip back into the new key. You could possibly head up the shaft of the screwdriver, remove it from the handle, drop the chip in, add some epoxy, put the shaft back in.

      Best case scenario you’ve got what you want. Worst case scenario you’ve ruined a good key so make sure you know how to program spares!.

    • Aaron says:

      You can take a spare key with the chip in it and hide it under the steering wheel so the chip still gets read by the immobilizer.

      Many aftermarket keyless ignitions use that technique on cars with chips in them.

    • brian says:

      I can say with certainty that you can, as I used to own a car with a drilled out ignition that I started with a real screwdriver. we taped the chip from the original key to where it needed to sit next to the sensors.

    • Bryan Elliott says:

      After you cut off the fob, leave it in your glovebox.

  3. TC says:

    First time i regret having one of those modern electronical keys with no metal on it whatsoever…
    I love the idea.

  4. Brad says:

    The chip doesn’t need to be that close to the ignition typically. Just take the sawn off end with the functioning chip and tape it under the dash (or leave it anywhere in the car) YMMV.

  5. William says:

    Cool idea. It reminds me of my first car that I actually had to start with a screwdriver. So when I saw this, I went and bought me the smallest stubby screw driver I could find, grabbed a spare key for my motorcycle and created my own. The stubby weighs next to nothing so no drag on the tumblers, plus my motorcycle ignition is facing up. For mine, the total size for the key and screwdriver handle is less than 5 inches. Again, awesome idea.

  6. Frank says:

    can you make one for me ? ill pay for the labor

    • Nathan says:

      Sorry, Frank. I appreciate the offer, but I’m not going to be selling any of these. It was just a fun afternoon project I wanted to share.

  7. Mack says:

    I had the steering column cover removed on a car once and got pulled over. I had to do some fast talking as the cop thought I stole it. This would actually be fun. Cool idea!

  8. iuvius says:

    Upgrades:
    - Grind screwdriver to fit key blank, then have SMALL local hardware store use their cutter. Then, no seam to break and lose half a key inside your column
    - Chop factory key shaft and save the RFID head. Remove steering column cowl, use electrical tape to tape RFID head to column. Now any generic key blank works. Warning: Car is now 3% easier to hotwire to whomever directly witnessed you doing this.
    - Keep your key intact as-is. Use 2-part granite epoxy and paint to make a handle that looks like pretty much anything you want.

  9. Stan says:

    astucieux !

  10. aurelia-m says:

    Very funny, but how do people react? Did anybody tryed to stop you when you are opening the car??

  11. I love this a lot, but am curious what would happen if I drove to the airport and tried to get on a flight carrying my car keys – they look like a fairly lethal looking weapon.

  12. Skillz says:

    You could use a screw driver with a hollow handle intended to store bits to store the part of the key that has a chip, or just cut the tip of the handle off, drill/hollow out the middle, place the chip inside the use some kind of poxy to fuse the top back on.

  13. FredZilch says:

    Someone has too much time on their hands.

  14. Scott says:

    You can also heat up the metal screwdriver shaft and pull it completely out of the handle, again heat the key up and the plastic handle keeps it held nicely. Been driving for years with these 2. http://i58.photobucket.com/albums/g252/Zeke_Hao_Asakura/20120301_214234.jpg

  15. I’m a big fan of this. Well done. Although here’s a key you’d feel if you pulled a Garth and fell on your keys.

  16. Steven R says:

    Can’t be done on newer cars. They won’t start without the chip in the back of the key.

  17. Jack says:

    I made the back hollow put the chip in, and then I used a hot glue gun so if i ever got pulled over, tthe cops could see the chip. I was afraid the chip would short circuit from the heat but it did not.

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