A person at my house continually moves my 2002 Ford Explorer from the driveway to the street without permission. The key is shared and must remain easily accessible. Personal issues aside, is there a way we can disable my truck so he can't move it, by removing a plug or cap to disable our vehicle like in the movies? What would be a few options?

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    I don't really get the point of leaving keys AND disabling the car. Car still won't move, so the effect is the same as hiding keys.
    – Agent_L
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 9:39
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    Assuming everyone involved are grownups, this is really simple to deal with. Tell him his actions are costing you money (tickets) and it has to stop or he needs to move out.
    – CharlieRB
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 11:48
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    Putting it very simply: this guy isn't your friend, he's a dick. He's being incredibly selfish and taking advantage of your good nature. If he's being so lazy that his preferred solution to a problem is to cost you large amounts of money, he's almost certainly doing other things you aren't aware of yet. Kick him out immediately. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 12:12
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    I have often heard it said that you cannot solve social issues with technology and think that it applies here as well. You are about to start an arms race that you can't win. Either you succeed and he will be annoyed and pester you or you don't and will be annoyed yourself. I'd recommend you head over to IPS.SE and ask how you can work this out together or find another way. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 14:18
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    The long preamble belongs to interpersonal.stackexchange.com , I'm surprised you all address that interpersonal problem, that is completely irrelevant to the mechanics. The actual question is the second paragraph, and the only persons addressing it are Solar Mike and Numair Aidroos.
    – Clément
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 17:57

10 Answers 10


If your friend is moving your vehicle without your consent and does so deliberately your friend is committing a crime. Vehicle theft. If you are asleep when this happens then consent was not given. I would suggest that you have a police officer have a long discussion with this individual about this. If this individual when moving your vehicle hits another vehicle and damages it. Since you are the owner of the vehicle you are responsible and your insurance rates will go up. As for disabling start looking into installing a kill switch . Also if you get parking tickets as a result....get him to pay for them.

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    @NumairAidroos That statement contains a contradiction in terms. Either the keys are available for everybody to move the car, or the car is disabled, either by removing the keys, cutting the wires, removing the distributor, whatever. You can't accomplish both objectives at the same time. The question is self-contradictory.
    – user207421
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 10:05
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    @NumairAidroos It still doesn't make sense. If you can remove "object X" from the car to disable it, but have that object be accessible by everyone but the so-called "friend", then you can arrange for the keys to be accessible by everyone but the friend. Whatever you can do to the car, you can do to the keys. This seems like a XY Problem.
    – JBentley
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 10:39
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    @JBentley this is the XY problem to end all XY problems.
    – stannius
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 15:00
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    I agree with all of the "kick this guy out" comments, but if you must go the technology route, why not put your keys in a key lock box like vacation rental properties and such use? Everybody but the jerk gets the combination... These can be had for $20 or less. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 19:14
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    @stannius cool! So if we solve this one XY Complete Problem, then we can solve all of them. Wicked!
    – user29824
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 11:36

enter image description here

I'll make it very simple for you, Dave.

Just remove the relay highlighted, in yellow, from the diagram above.

This goes to the starter.

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    And how are you going to prevent the "friend" from putting the relay back? Whatever you do to prevent that, you can do to the keys.
    – JBentley
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 10:40
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    This will not be accessible to that fellow. Only others will know about this hack. He doesn't want that fellow to know he's blocked his access. Now he'll remain polite. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 11:22
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    @NumairAidroos What if the "friend" uses this website and figures it out?
    – JAB
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 14:59
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    Isn't he going to notice that the car is still being moved? Just not by him Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 17:27
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    Though if he still has a key, the OPs "friend" can unlock the Explorer and push it out of the way. What does he care if it gets towed away instead of a ticket? Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 22:40

Remove the publicly available key.

Make one copy of the key for each person or household who needs to be able to move the car. Give a key to each person and have them sign an agreement that they will not loan their key to anyone else.

If the individual is still able to move the car, he probably made an unauthorized copy, in which case you should contact the police.

I don't know what the cost of a parking ticket is in your area, but here I could make 30 copies of a key for less than one ticket.

  • 5
    Alternatively, put the "publicly available" key into a lockable key cabinet, and duplicate the keys to the cabinet. (I don't know about 2002 Ford Explorer, but not all car keys can be easily / cheaply duplicated. Key cabinet keys usually can.)
    – DevSolar
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 9:09
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    Definitely beats fumbling around inside the car's engine / electronics.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 9:16
  • @DevSolar: true point, but thats simply the technical question OP asks.
    – Zaibis
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 6:53
  • Making duplicates of keys is just as much a technical solution as installing a kill switch or hiding a distributor. The real problem is this question is asking how to use automotive technology to solve a problem that can't be solved by any technology.
    – barbecue
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 12:36

As stated in other answers, you really need to get your new housemate to start listening to you. If he doesn't respect your property, do you really want him living with you?

With regards to the vehicle, your simplest solution is unplugging something on the ignition side. Historically, you could unplug the king lead (from the coil to the distributor) but as yours is likely on an electronic ignition system, I'd suggest unplugging the plug in the side of the coil pack or the sender unit for the inductive pickup that detects RPM. I'm not 100% sure on your vehicle but I'd guess it would be screwed into the bell-housing taking a feed from the flywheel.

With these unplugged, the engine will crank but not start. The problem here is, it's akin to hiding your keys because it means that you would need to know how to start the vehicle.

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    "the engine will crank but not start." Aside from the problem of how you let other people move the car, the brain-dead idiot who is causing the problem will probably just keep trying till the battery is flat! (And he won't be the guy paying to replace the burnt-out starter motor, after he's done that every day for a month...)
    – alephzero
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 20:18
  • Well thought of. Yes the starter will take a toll on the battery. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 23:30
  • That's the point at which someone in the house wakes up, comes outside and chastises him. Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 8:01

Remove fuse #26 (Brake-shift interlock) and the starter relay. This will prevent the "friend" from starting the car, and will also prevent the "friend" from simply putting it in neutral and pushing it (The Brake-Shift interlock fuse being removed will prevent the shifter from being moved out of "Park"). Most people haven't got the slightest clue about fuse boxes in cars, so it should work fine.

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    Amazing, so if a fuse blows or battery is dead, the car is locked in position? This gets an award for brainlessness. Like car that wouldn't start with seatbelt unfastened.. Dumb.
    – user29824
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 22:57
  • Sorry it took so long to reply! It's not locked in position, there's a procedure in the instruction manual for bypassing the Brake-Shift interlock. Typically that's removing a small plastic cover near the gear shift and pushing down on a tab with a screwdriver, which will allow the car to be shifted out of park without using the brake pedal for use when towing or the fuse blows.
    – Eirc
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 2:44

Hide the keys in a different non-obvious place.

Tell all your friends the new place where the keys go, except for the one you don't want to move the car.


Don't disable the vehicle. Put up a set of dummy keys, which you can get from any junkyard with a similar-year Ford, it doesn't even have to be an Explorer. The real keys you could hide somewhere, and inform the authorized drivers where they are.

Note that keys with plastic fobs may be damaged by applying too much force when trying to turn them in the external locks (door lock, hood lock). This may require a locksmith to retrieve the key blade from the lock. Thank you to Steve Matthews and Numair Aidroos for bringing this up in the comments.

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    This may lead to costly repairs should your "friend" attempt to force the wrong keys into a lock barrel and snap the key blade off in the lock. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 15:11
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    @SteveMatthews: Not at all. The ignition switch is designed to reject the wrong key without damage. Your "friend" would have to use beyond reasonable force to snap the key inside the ignition. Even if he did that, the plastic fob would fail before the metal key, which I expect could then be retrieved with needle-nose pliers.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 16:00
  • They'd have to get through the door locks first. I've snapped keys before. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 18:39
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    @SteveMatthews: I've give you the door locks. I even recently saw a 2008 Focus in which the key broke off in the Hood Lock, a feature specific to the Focus.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 18:58
  • I'm with Steve on this. I've seen pur driver do this to 3 of our cars in the last year. This damage requires tiny pins to be reinstated inside a lock barrel, unnecessary repairs. I Will not say it's a bad answer, just the con may outweigh the pro. It's my opinion not a theoretical fact. Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 23:28

As was said install a kill switch. This was originally relatively simple on older cars : fit a switch into the supply to the coil. However, you may find that a switch into the supply to the fuel pump would work - but the residual pressure may still allow him sufficient time to move the car. You will need to check, it will depend on the time between when your car was parked and when he tries to move it


My question, is there a way we can disable my truck so he can't move it onto a no parking zone by removing a plug or cap to disable our vehicle like in the movies?

The wire that they disconnect in the movies goes to the coil plug in a distributor cap like this:

Distributor cap with incoming plug

Source: http://www.autohausaz.com/pn/03330

The wires from the outer plugs go to the spark plugs. The central one brings the power in for all of them. So removing the central wire will disable the vehicle.

They also might remove the distributor cap entirely. Or they might unbolt it and remove the rotor from inside so that the spark doesn't travel from the coil wire to the spark plug wires. Any of those involve unbolting the cap, which is more work than I'd want to do in this situation.

The 2002 Ford Explorer does not have that kind of distributor though. It has an integrated ignition coil instead:

Ignition coil for 2002 Ford Explorer

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYf_0zqS1RA

That video shows how to remove and replace the ignition coil. It's not something that you'd do quickly. It's a non-permanent way to disable a vehicle that you may be able to do without entering the vehicle (if you can release the hood). A simpler method would be to unplug the six wires, but it's easy to put them back in the wrong order. That can cause the engine to run incorrectly. Unplugging some but not all the wires can allow the engine to run just well enough to reach a no parking zone but not well enough to drive. Pretty much the opposite of what you want.

This is why another answer is recommending that you remove the starter relay instead. That takes seconds to remove and replace once you know where it is. If the orientation is not obvious, you can draw on the fuse box and relay with a marker to make it obvious which corner goes where.

The starter relay won't allow the starter to engage at all, so less chance of running down the battery, ruining the starter, or flooding the engine trying to start the vehicle. The distribution just keeps the spark plugs from firing. The starter will happily grind away.

A kill switch could also work. But I wouldn't recommend installing it yourself unless you plan on working on the car yourself in general. It's a mechanical (electrical) change. Take the car to a mechanic or security system installer to get a kill switch installed. Doing it incorrectly may not actually stop the car from starting or it may keep the car from starting more permanently than you want. You need both off and on to work.


Get a boot (heavy duty version) for your car - make extra keys - pass out extra keys only to trusted roommates and not him.

But seriously: kick him out.

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