Humvee DIY Upgrade – How to Install a Key Start in HMMWV

Humvee DIY Upgrade – How to Install a Key Start in HMMWV “Where’s the key?” It is a common question when people check out a HMMWV for the first time. […]

Humvee DIY Upgrade – How to Install a Key Start in HMMWV

Humvee DIY Upgrade – How to Install a Key Start in HMMWV - Where is the HMMWV key?“Where’s the key?”

It is a common question when people check out a HMMWV for the first time. The civilian/commercial version of the Humvee, the H1 Hummer, came with a standard ignition switch operated by a key. Military HMMWVs, however, did not. There is a simple paddle switch that is used to start military Humvees.

“But how do you keep people from stealing the HMMWV?”

And that is the typical next question. To be honest, it is a legitimate concern. I don’t park the Battlewagon in store parking lots very often, but recently I came out of a store and found one of my turn signals blinking… which is odd, since I ALWAYS look back at the HMMWV as I am walking away to be sure it isn’t rolling (no “Park”, just the parking brake), lights aren’t on, etc. I KNEW that the turn signal was off when I went in the store 15 minutes earlier. When I open the driver’s door I saw the green turn signal switch light bulb cover laying on the floor. That bulb cover was tethered to the turn signal switch before. So, it was clear that someone had been messing with my truck. I can only speculate, but I suspect someone thought they could take it for a joy ride, and started messing with things looking for a way to start it before they noticed that the steering wheel lock cable was installed.

Are thieves really that stupid?


Doesn’t make sense to me, since a military HMMWV sticks out like a turd in a punch bowl. Not really likely that they would be able to make a clean get-away unnoticed. They might also consider the typical HMMWV owner. We tend to be 2nd Amendment supporters. Anyone trying to steal a HMMWV when the owner returns runs the risk of being on the wrong end of an armed encounter.

How to secure your HMMWV

HMMWV Key Start video by Rub from Damage Control Customs with a special key hidden in the standard HMMWV start switch.

Humvee DIY Upgrade – How to Install a Key Start in HMMWV - HMMWV keyed ignitionHere are links for the supplies needed for this easy DIY upgrade.

Hide your key in the stock start switch paddle!

I wish I had come up with this brilliant upgrade that keeps the stock appearance of the HMMWV start switch, but adds a keyed switch.

Starter wiring

  • Starter = labeled 14A
  • Ignition = labeled 29A
  • Battery = labeled 11A

Starter switch replacement instructions can be found in TM 9-2320-280-20, section 4-7. Rotary switch replacement.

Where to get Humvee parts:

  • Probably my “go to” for real military parts is HMMWV parts on ebay
  • You can get HMMWV books on Amazon
  • Actually, you can get a LOT of upgrade parts on Amazon. We have made it easy by adding a HMMWV section the Gear Report Amazon store and add parts to it as we find them.
  • Southern Metals Recycling… if you happen to be close to Wilmington, NC. They scrap HMMWVs for the government and can sell some parts.

HMMWV stuff

More HMMWV articles can be found under the Humvee category menu above or by clicking HERE.


Please leave a comment if you have suggestions on other HMMWV upgrades we should consider, or you have done upgrades that we can share on Gear Report.

The Project Humvee Battlewagon

Gear Report acquired a real HMMWV (High Mobility Multi Wheeled Vehicle) from the US Army for use as our official field and shooting range vehicle. We have already posted about some of our upgrade projects (Project Humvee Battlewagon article links) and have a lot of really cool projects on the way. Consider subscribing so you don’t miss any of the cool reviews as we post them.
Here is our Project Intro (link) and our list of HMMWV upgrade projects.

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About Jeff

Jeff is the Editor in Chief of Gear Report and a National Shooting Sports Foundation Media member. He reports on the outdoor industry, reviews gear for camping, hiking, shooting, hunting, paddling, backpacking and other active pursuits. A USAF veteran, Jeff earned a MBA in Marketing and Health Services. He specializes in consultative selling and internet marketing. As the VP of BD & Marketing, Jeff provides sales and marketing leadership to MGECOM, Inc. and helps acquire new clients in need of solutions for online merchants in need of Affiliate Marketing program management. Jeff founded and manages Cress Sales & Marketing LLC, offering online sales and marketing consulting and services to online merchants and service providers.