Is it possible to install a kill switch on my Tercel?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

I used to have a 1966 VW Bug. My brother installed a cut off switch in it to ground out the ignition to make the car harder to hotwire. I recently traded that car in for a two-door, four speed,1991 Toyota Tercel. Since it starts differently than the VW, is there any way to install a cut-off switch in this new car so it will be harder to steal?

TOM: I can understand why you might be a little bit nervous about your ?"91 Tercel, Mary. But did you really feel you had to go through the trouble of putting a kill switch in a ?"66 Bug? That?os like putting barbed wire around the cat?os litter box.

RAY: But what?os done is done. There are three ways you can "cut off" the Tercel. The simplest switch would be one that cuts the power to the starter. When that switch is open, nothing at all would happen when you tried to start the car. But that?os also the easiest switch for a thief to defeat. All he or she (we don?ot want to be sexist here) has to do is turn on the ignition switch, and jump the starter under the hood.

TOM: You can also install a switch that would kill the electronic ignition. That?os more effective against thieves, but it?os also a little riskier in terms of installation. It?os possible to accidentally ground something while you?ore putting it in, and permanently damage the ignitor assembly or some other expensive piece of electronic equipment.

RAY: So for this car, we?od recommend a cut off switch for the fuel pump. Without fuel, the car will crank and crank, but will never start. And unlike a the starter, the fuel pump is pretty well buried. Chances are, a thief won?ot know why the car isn?ot starting, and won?ot want to take the time to do a complete diagnosis.

TOM: Heck, the last time a car with one of these came into our shop, it took US an hour to get is started.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One