How To Start A Chevy Cavalier Without A Key [Explained]

If you’re wondering how to start a Chevy Cavalier without a key, there are many ways you can go about it. If your Cavalier was made before the mid-1990s, you can hot wire it to bypass the ignition switch. But for the later models, you’ll also have to bypass the anti-theft system.

Keep reading this article to find out more about how to bypass the ignition switch to start the car and also the anti-theft system in detail. You’ll also learn how to replace the Cavalier keys. Let’s begin!

How To Start A Chevy Cavalier Without A Key [Know A-Z]

We’ll discuss how you can start a Chevy Cavalier if you’ve lost the key in this section. There are two methods to doing it. Here they are:

Note: You can also read how to Bypass ford PATS system without key.

Method 1: Call A Locksmith

If you want to know how to start a car without a key or hot wiring, calling in a locksmith is the solution. You can damage the door locks if you try to pry them open and hotwiring the car could also harm the ignition system.

Yes, a locksmith will be the more expensive route but it’s the only guaranteed way to start a Chevy Cavalier without risking any damage to it. They can also make you a new key if you have lost your old one.

Method 2: Hotwire The Car

If you’re thinking about how to turn the ignition without a key, one way to go about is hotwiring the car. For the Cavaliers made before 1994, you can bypass the ignition switch using a flathead screwdriver in some cases. But if that doesn’t work, here is a detailed step by step instruction on hotwiring a car:

  • Insert a flathead screwdriver into the ignition.
  • Turn it like you would with a key.
  • Pull the screwdriver out of the ignition if the car doesn’t start.
  • Remove the screws on the panel at the top and bottom of the steering wheel.
  • Pry off the panels to expose the ignition cylinder using a flathead screwdriver.
  • Take it out gently to prevent damaging the steering column.
  • Find out which are the battery and starter wires in your car.
  • Cut the power wires from the cylinder using cutters.
  • Strip the ends of the wires.
  • Connect them by twisting them together.
  • Your lights, radios, and electrical systems should be powered by now.
  • Cut the starter wires from the cylinder and strip the ends.
  • Don’t touch the end of these wires as these can electrocute you.
  • Make the ends of the wire touch each other.

Your car should start now. Tape the starter wires immediately to make sure that you don’t get shocked in the middle of driving. It’s dangerous to hot wire a car as it can damage the ignition system. You need to have proof of ownership before you decide to hotwire a car.

How to hotwire a 2002 chevy cavalier? The same steps apply but you’d also have to get past the security lock to start the car. The next section covers how to bypass the anti-theft system on Chevy Cavalier so that you can start the car if you’re stuck in the middle of the road.

How To Bypass The Chevy Cavalier Anti-Theft System

The Chevy Cavalier security system can get triggered when the battery has been disconnected for a long time or the battery is dead. It’ll start and then immediately die in most cases when that happens.

Method 1: Battery Negative Terminal

You can bypass the anti-theft system on a Chevy Cavalier vehicle through the battery terminal if the battery in your car has good ground. Follow these steps to bypass the security system:

  • Lock the doors in the car with a keyless lock if you have it.
  • Otherwise, lock all the doors and open your hood.
  • Remove the negative terminal of your battery for at least 30 seconds.
  • Reconnect the negative terminal of the battery.
  • Close the hood and unlock the doors.

That should do the trick. Try to start the car and see if it runs. If it doesn’t work, you most likely have a battery issue with your car.

Method 2: Ignition Wires

The first thing to do is replace your battery if you’re facing that issue. Jump packs won’t work for this method. Follow these steps to reset the security system once you’ve secured a good battery:

  • Put the key in the ignition and turn it on.
  • Leave the key on until the security light goes out.
  • Turn the key off when it goes out.
  • Let the key sit in there for five to ten minutes.
  • Cut the white and yellow wire that goes into the ignition.
  • Tape the wires you cut so that they don’t touch each other.

Now try to start the car again. If it runs successfully without turning on the security system, you have reset the security system. You’ll no longer need the key with the specific chip in it to drive your vehicle.

Method 3: Forward And Backward

This one is a tried and tested method of the 2002 Chevy Cavalier ignition switch bypass. The only problem is that it will take at least half an hour of your time. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Put the key forward but don’t turn it on.
  • Wait for ten minutes and put it back.
  • Put it forward again and wait for another ten minutes.
  • Put it back and repeat step 3 again.

After you’ve done it three times and waited for a total of 30 minutes, the anti-theft system should be reset and your car should turn on. 

How To Replace Chevy Cavalier Key

Most Chevy Cavalier vehicles have an easy lock and key system. You can find a code stamp on the ignition lock for most of the Cavalier cars made between 1982 to 1994. There are many hardware stores or locksmith shops that’ll copy the keys for you if you need a spare key.

But if you have lost your original key, making a new key can be difficult. If you have the newer Cavaliers, you can probably have them made in a Chevy dealership. But for the older ones, you’d need a locksmith. Visit the dealership and a few locksmiths and see who gives a better price.

If the Chevy Cavalier you own was made before 1994, you can disassemble the ignition lock and find the key code in it. Give that key code to a locksmith company and they’ll make you a new key for a fraction of the price that the dealership will charge you.

You can save a lot of money if you know the key code in advance when you try to get a new key. That’s why it’s important to know the key code. But the vehicles made after 1994 don’t have that key code in the ignition lock.

So, here’s a quick guide for you if you don’t know the key code for your vehicle. You can provide this number to a locksmith and they’ll get it for you.

  • 320470 – For Chevy Cavaliers that were made in 1982.
  • 320588 – For Chevy Cavaliers that were made in 1983 -1986.
  • 320652 – For Chevy Cavaliers that were made in 1987 -1990.
  • P1099 – For Chevy Cavaliers that were made in 1991 -1994.
  • 597749 – For Chevy Cavaliers that were made in 1995 -2005.

There are no fancy transponder chips in the Chevy Cavalier keys. Knowing these part numbers will be of great help to you when you try to get a new key.

What To Do When Chevy Cavalier Key Is Stuck In Ignition

There are two main reasons that could cause the key to get stuck in the ignition. The most common reason is that the key is worn-out due to prolonged use. Otherwise, the ignition lock could be stuck.

If the key is worn-out, provide the key code of your car to a locksmith and have him make you a new key. You need an expert locksmith for this job because he’ll have to figure out the cuts of the key by looking at the worn-out key. Don’t make a copy of the key as that will be of no help in this situation.

If the ignition lock is stuck and it’s the one causing the problem, you need to have a locksmith rekey your ignition lock. Either way, a trip to a locksmith is a must when the key gets stuck in the ignition.


Why does my Chevy Cavalier go into theft mode?

In the newer Chevy Cavaliers, changing the instrument cluster or the radio of the car can trigger the security system of the car and that causes it to go into theft mode. A disconnected battery can also cause it to go into theft mode.

Do Chevy Cavalier keys have chips in them?

All Chevy Cavalier keys are non-transponder keys. That means there’s no RFID chip or chips of any other kind in them.

Why won’t my Chevy Cavalier start?

The most common reasons that keep a Chevy Cavalier from starting are a dead battery, the battery has bad ground, a faulty alternator, or starter issues.

How much does it cost to replace the starter on a Chevy Cavalier?

You can get a new starter for your Chevy Cavalier for $75-$100. But if you add in the labor costs, replacing the starter will cost you a few hundred dollars.


Now you know how to start a chevy cavalier without a key regardless of whether it has an anti-theft system or not. Remember that having a locksmith make a new key is the ideal way to solve your problem.

If you decide to hotwire the car and bypass the anti-theft system, be patient and follow the steps mentioned in this article with caution. Drop a comment below if you have any more questions about Chevy Cavaliers.

About John M

John contributed as a technical head at an automobile company just 2 years after his post-graduation in Automobile Engineering. He loves to lead a free life, so he left his job & started blogging. Now, he does research on every automotive problem, part & product and seeks a better solution & best products & shares his findings with his readers to help them as well as to minimize their struggle.

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