Know How To Bypass A Kill Switch On A Boat | Prevent Deadly Accidents

New to boating? Scared of the unprecedented accidents? Are people telling you to install a boat ignition switch? Hello, boat owners, let us help you. Kill switches on boats are an extensive way to avoid accidents.

If your boat won’t start after a kill switch then here is what you need to learn about how to bypass a killswitch on a boat or how to hotwire a boat engine or how to wire a boat ignition. It does not matter if you are a pro or not but we will make it a lot easier for you. so let us start from the basics indeed.

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What is a kill switch on a boat?

In simple words, a kill switch is used to prevent sudden accidents. It is an emergency switch that will help you to turn it on or off in just a click.

The kill switches allow the boat driver a safety mechanism system if it does not work manually.

This does not cause any kind of damage to the whole system but is a great safety measure.

How does a kill switch work?

In simple words, it is the engine cut-off switch. It is also known as the kill cord. Turning on or off the engine on an emergency basis by the helmsman can result in accidents sometimes. When the boat is running the kill cord allows an electrical circuit to maintain the boat running flow.

And when the switch is turned off with a click the electrical connection is automatically broken and there is no power to the boat motor. So this is how wiring a boat ignition switch works.

Types of the kill switch:

Based on mobility and price there are two types of kill switches for vote cut of switches that is named as tethered or electronic switch. Now let us know how they function.

Electronic switch:

Having housed by the Sailor or the helmsman there is an electronic kill cord that is run by a mini transponder that is housed in the fob or tag dressed by the boatsman.

Well if you talk about its functioning then the communication between the transponder and the kill cord only occurs when the Sailor is close enough to the kill switch. So if there is any case that causes distance between the boat’s man and the engine then the kill switch will automatically be turned off.

Tethered switch:

Being fastened by A clip for the collar the tethered switch is generally a clip-like switch that is connected to the lanyard or cable that is worn by the Sailor. This is a push and pulls switch in nature. And this hotwire boat ignition switch works when the transducer and transponder are closer.

So when the transducer and transponder are apart from each other the switch is automatically turned off causing the engine to run off and this is how you can prevent sudden accidents.

Symptoms of a bad kill switch on the boat:

While hot wiring boat ignition switch there may be times at which the killswitch might not work. So how to check if you have a bad kill switch on a boat?

First of all, to check if the kill switch is bad you need to test the continuity of the kill cord. So to check the continuity you can check it with the multimeter. This multimeter helps to measure resistance.

The resistance is measured in ohms. Before doing this you need to cool down the engine Foster so if the kill switch is bad there might need to pull off the spark plug wire to turn off the engine.

Is the tether switch the best?

Well, switches are chosen according to the preference of the sailors. But tethered switches are most popular among the sailors due to their affordability and upgraded performances.

This is how to bypass a kill switch on a boat:

Moving ahead of the basics here are the steps regarding how to wire a boat ignition or how to hotwire a boat. Many times it has been seen that drivers will leave the driving seat unconsciously and this may cause an inconvenient situation. so let us go through a detailed guide about bypassing the kill switch.

Installation or bypassing  of an open circuit  kill cord:

In the case of an open circuit, the lanyard has positioned the activity or contact of this switch are apartment that refers to the open circuit, and on the other hand, when it is pulled out the contact closes the circuit.

bypassing of an open circuit kill cord

Now let’s come to the placement. One end of the after kill switch is attached with the Lanyard on the kill cord and another and is tied around the helmsman’s leg.

So when an unexpected incident takes place or the driver derives from its driving position the cord is automatically pulled far from the switch resulting in a sprung switch operation.

Installing or bypassing the remote engine kill switch:

Well if this switch is placed in your boat then the engine automatically and instantly runs off when the Sailor moves out of its place. As a lot of incidents were seen due to losing the connection of the help man and the engine the remote engine kill switch or wireless kill cord were introduced.

Though the engine automatically runs down if there is a difference of 50 feet or less this switch also comes with remote control and automatic override function. 

bypassing the remote engine kill switch

The override function helps to restart the engine for those who left onboard and also for those who are out of the vessel.

  • The foremost step is to gather necessary tools such as a power drill, a 21/8 inch, wire cutters or strippers, and a crimping tool.
  • Let’s start from the very first step that is installing the X hub. Create a hole of 21/16 inch diameter on the wheel. The antenna must be 61/2 inches long. The antenna needs to be put on the whole that you just created.
  • While making such an arrangement, make sure the middle of the dash can help the gasket to rest and the indicator of the battery should be placed at the top. The connector cable needs to be connected at the unit’s back with your bare hands.
  • The second step is turning off the battery power before getting the connection. There is a 5 wire pigtail that is a color-coded connector cable. Match the positive wires with a stable 12V DC source and add the black wire to the ground terminal of the board.
  • Now attach the signal waves. You may give a read to the official website for a wiring schematic to fit your brand as 2 wires are remaining that should be attached.
  • If you follow the mercury kill switch diagram connect the black or yellow wire with the gray one and the orange to be linked with the black as well leading to the switch. Make sure you are not removing the wires coming out of the engine.
  • Lastly, run a test for the installation. Put the lanyard for restarting the motor. turn on your engine make sure the wires are attached to the prevailing kill switch.

Now walk away to see if it works. If it works the engine will turn off automatically sending a sound and red light as a signal. As it has a remote control system you can stop the engine in just a click and it reconnects in 6 seconds.

frequently asked questions

Will an outboard start in gear? 

Though components like gauges and lights may run, the engine is not going to start if your outboard is in gear. It is a must to be in a neutral position.

What color is the ignition switch wire? 

Boat ignition switch wiring is found in white red, white black, and red and black color.

Is it easy to hotwire? 

Whether it is to hotwire a pontoon boat or any other device. It is never impossible but yes it requires a critical study that is not so tough as it requires creating an electrical connection.

At the bottom

Hey, helmsman grab your old boat keys or a new one and jump over how to wire a boat ignition.  Based on the above 2 systems you can go for your preferred one. If you ask which one is the best process? Well, there is no selective one but wireless is used widely indeed.

So if you are now asked about how to bypass a killswitch on a boat we bet you know it all and can rock it. So what are you waiting for? read our guide and avoid unexpected accidents making your boats safe and stable.

Jack K. Pride
Jack K. Pride

Jack K. Pride is an accomplished author and a prominent figure in the boating community. With a passion for boats and a deep understanding of the maritime industry, he has been sharing his expertise through his compelling articles on

Known for his insightful and informative writing style, Jack's articles provide valuable insights, tips, and knowledge to boat enthusiasts worldwide. His dedication to the subject matter and commitment to delivering high-quality content makes him a trusted voice in the boating world.

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