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The telekinetic in question seems to have fantastic line of sight telekinesis and even great out of sight telekinesis being able to even manage "having a sense of feeling" to said things using his powerful imagination (he's quite the maladaptive daydreamer) however he can't move or manipulate things he doesn't know exist and telekinesis at its best is manipulation of matter that does exist with the mind. For him to know this he needs to have previous experience with said object/area. Bare minimum muscle memory or visually with that object being in his line of sight beforehand to create a "link" to said area or object. It is possible for his memory to be foggy and if he can't remember a area/object well enough he could possibly lose all telekinetic link with this area/object. Meaning if he doesn't at least have a idea visually of your house he can't just levitate your Xbox 3 miles back to his place. So assuming he was familiar with how generally automobiles work and he was insanely familiar with the inner workings of a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz how would he go about mentally starting this vehicle without keys and driving off?

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    $\begingroup$ Start a vehicle or just engine? You can start any engine be force feeding it fuel and giving spark and alternator power straight from battery. $\endgroup$ Aug 21 '20 at 6:58
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks kerravon for the solid advise I've included all the missing information in the edits. And yes starting a vehicle and driving away with it. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Aug 21 '20 at 7:51
  • $\begingroup$ Does he needs line of site, or he can also use muscle memory? I can open (simple) keylock without a key (it's not that hard), but I've never saw directly what is inside. $\endgroup$
    – ksbes
    Aug 21 '20 at 7:57
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah he can use muscle memory as well!. Thank you for helping me out here guys and reminding me, I haven't slept at all tonight. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Aug 21 '20 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ It depends how foggy his memory is and how clear it needs to be to move things. You can make it anything you want with what is effectively magic. $\endgroup$
    – Slarty
    Aug 21 '20 at 9:55
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Yes he can start an old car. All he needs is to

  1. Apply momentum to the keylock
  2. Start to vibrate that keylock

That is exactly like how a modern vibro-lockpicks works.

Additionally, if he can work using his muscle memory, he can touch the pins of a lock with a piece of paper or clip and then just push them and turn the lock.

All this needs is that he have at least watched some video on youtube about locks and lockpicking. Better if he has some real experience with it.

But this method has a lot of limitations:

  • "secure locks" have protection from this method (so he would have trouble opening safes or secure doors)
  • most modern cars have additional digital security measures - like the key also being a digital token, and many other more complex systems. So - no luck with cars with a start/stop button!

P.S. (inspired by comments) Or, if you are strong enough, you can just switch the gearbox to neutral and push the car with your own force! :)

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    $\begingroup$ In addition, the key is mostly to close a circuit. If you practice enough you might be able to activate certain types of cars just from the memory to connect the plates. He/she would need to maintain it at all times, but as a powerful telekinetic it might be a breeze. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Aug 21 '20 at 8:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Trioxidane, you will need either cut the very certan wires (I do not know wich for my personal car) or put some metal object (pin) inside board wich sits in closed space (for enviremental protection). Tuning lock is much easer from any point of view. $\endgroup$
    – ksbes
    Aug 21 '20 at 9:33
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    $\begingroup$ It's still necessary to unlock the steering column. Merely starting the engine would only allow you to drive in whatever position the front wheels are currently locked in, otherwise. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Aug 21 '20 at 13:40
  • $\begingroup$ I find it likely that he would be able to "pick" newer locks too, with experience. An experienced lockpick can easily visualize the internals of almost any mechanical lock and thus get it to turn. The telekinetic would have problems with button-press/wireless key cars though $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Aug 22 '20 at 21:04
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Use water to feel the inside of the lock

I presume your telekinetic gets some sensory feedback from the items he moves. For example if he picked up a bed and pushed it towards the wall he would feel he bed stopping against the wall, even with his eyes closed.

So do the same for the inside of the lock. Take a small amount of water and manipulate it inside the lock. Then he can generate a mental picture of the inside of the lock. From there is should be easy to locate the relevant tumblers, pins et cetera and open the lock.

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  • $\begingroup$ This won't work for most vehicles less than 20 years old. Keys generally have some sort of electronic security token in them, and the ECU won't start the engine if it's not present. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Aug 21 '20 at 21:01
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No

however he can't move or manipulate things he doesn't know exist

The car in question would have to have been manufactured before the implementation of ignition keys. By the rule stated above, the telekenetic can't actuate tumblers he/she can't see (doesn't know where they are, what their settings are, etc.). If the telekenetic is powerful enough to break the lock, he/she's powerful enough to do a lot of things that make the question moot.

Bear in mind that telekenisis is just a form of sci-fi magic. You can do anything you want with it — but by the rules you've established, no, the telekenetic can't start cars.

A better answer would require you to provide more details about the rules of telekenisis in your world, like a chart of force-vs-distance, rules about precision and dexterity, etc. Most telekenetics in, for example, the Marvel universe are godlike in their ability to perceive their surroundings and therefore utilize their gift. A practical telekenisis would be no more useful than your own hands. If you can't do it with your hands, you can't do it with your mind, because that's as complex as the human creature can be without additional tools.

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  • $\begingroup$ Let's say that he can use his out of sight telekinetic powers to better understand and even "mentally touch" and feel his surroundings as well. And let's say that while he still does need to be able to confirm such matter exists another way he is able to do so is using this "mental touch" after all what's more real then being able to touch and feel something even if it is with your mind :P. So let's say now he's sends multiple pulse like telekinetic charges of touch out to gather information and over time and multiple pulses is able to feel and locate said tumblers. How would he start it now? $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Aug 21 '20 at 14:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris That's a godlike ability and there's nothing your telekinetic can't do, but let's work with it for a moment. How does your telekinetic tell the difference between, for example, the metal of the tumblers and the metal of the case they're in? Is that something you'd expect people to be able to do with their fingers? If you want your telekinetic to start the car, have your telekinetic start the car. If you want us to help you develop rules for your world - those rules include limitations. $\endgroup$ Aug 21 '20 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ Better still, how does your telekinetic push "past" something that's in the way? How does the force form on the other side of something? How much space between two objects is required to allow that force to develop? How precisely can that force (in size, energy, and time) be applied? Do you see what I mean? If your answers are anything along the lines of "he can push the tumblers" then you have a godlike character and this question was a waste of everyone's time. $\endgroup$ Aug 21 '20 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ Out of curiosity, how can your telekinetic even great out of sight telekinesis being able to even manage "having a sense of feeling" to said things using his powerful imagination and yet he can't move or manipulate things he doesn't know exist? Those seem to be contradictory rules. $\endgroup$ Aug 21 '20 at 14:45
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Answer based on an edit.

He would need to watch a few episodes of "Lockpicking Lawyer". A 1957 car wouldn't have any additional power security (in the vanilla factory model, at least). If they had, bad luck those things are PITA. First to find, second to operate.

If he has seen the key it would be even easier. He could imagine where the pins should be, and then use telekinesis to hold them all at once.

However, there is a different method at his disposal. Provided that he is familiar with the internal workings of the car, he could just give power to the cable that activates the solenoid that starts the start and give power to the ignition coil (etc. ad nauseam). To simplify, just imagine the red wire touching the pink cable.

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    $\begingroup$ Lockpicking Lawyer, not locksmith. $\endgroup$ Aug 21 '20 at 21:05
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Someone

familiar with how generally automobiles work and ... insanely familiar with the inner workings of some pre-1980 model

... can run this car without the keys AND without any telekinetic abilities. In a few minutes or maybe less. That's how advanced car thieves did work back then.

Telekinesis can shorten this time down to few seconds - in practice, just as fast as with keys.

It boils down to opening the doors (pretty much possible from inside when you see where the handles are from the opposite window and this Cadillac is cabrio anyway) and shorting 2 (and temporarily 3rd) wires that everyone knows where they are.

Steering wheel locks AFAIR were introduced later and they are rather easy to bypass, especially if you can simply undo bolts that you can look at.

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Part of the ignition system of the vehicle is a relay, which is an electronic device that enables a low-voltage circuit (the key switch) to switch a high-voltage circuit (the starter) on and off while keeping them electrically isolated from one another. Relays generally work by sending the low-voltage signal through a coil that acts like an electromagnet. When energized, the magnetic field from the coil will push or pull a switch open or closed, which opens and closes the circuit on the high-voltage side.

To start the car, your character would simply need to use telekinesis to close the ignition relay. It doesn't take much physical force to do this, but the relay's components are sealed inside a plastic shell. Your character would need to swap the relay in his car with one that had a transparent shell. Once he could see the insides, activating it should be trivial. After some practice, he will likely learn to do it while sitting in the driver's seat and not having a direct line of sight.

If he wanted to make his car really hard to steal, disconnect the key switch entirely and replace it with a pushbutton hidden somewhere inaccessible. The only way to start it would be to press the button telekinetically.

This would be a lot harder for modern cars, though. Their ignition systems are more complex.

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  • $\begingroup$ Modern cars still come down to some sort of switch, somewhere. Find and move that switch, and this character can telekinetically start their car. $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Aug 22 '20 at 6:40
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Depends on the vehicle. Modern cars, built since maybe late '90s, have electronic security systems (RFID) built into the key. If the car's ECU (electronic control unit) doesn't read the correct code from the key, it won't let the engine run. If you go to your local hardware store and cut a duplicate key (that is, with the same teeth & notches, but without the code), it'll just unlock the steering column, but not start the engine.

With older cars - for instance, my '88 pickup - you could start the engine by telekinetically picking the lock, just as you can cut a simple replacement key.

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You don't need to engage the ignition system to start a car (at least, a car with a carburetor - I'm not sure how true it is of a fuel injection engine, but 1957 is definitely going to have a carburetor). All you have to do is get the crankshaft turning with enough momentum to cycle a few times. The ignition system just engages the starter, which is an electric motor that turns the crankshaft until the motor gets going.

Cars can be started by "push starting" instead - get the car rolling by pushing it by hand or another vehicle, or just rolling down a hill, then "popping the clutch" to engage the gears. The momentum of the car will start the crankshaft turning, causing the engine to start up.

Your guy does not need to start it in exactly that way. He just needs to turn the crankshaft with his mind. In fact, since you seem to be interested in a particular vehicle, all he has to do is look under the hood long enough to "picture" that big fly wheel in front driving the belts. It is connected to the crankshaft. So all he needs to do is start turning the wheel, and the car will start.

If the car is in park or neutral, then it should start easily. If the car is not, then he will have to start moving the entire vehicle to get it going.

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    $\begingroup$ This is incorrect. You need the ignition system to be on in order to provide current to the spark plugs. (For automotive gas engines - aircraft engines and diesels work differently.) If the ignition is not on, you can push the car all day and it won't start. Also push starting really only works with manual transmission, most automatics won't push start. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Aug 21 '20 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf - No, you are completely wrong on that. The spark plugs are powered by the magneto, which is powered itself by the crankshaft. You only need to get it rotating and the whole thing runs on its own, outputting power, not taking it in. Don't try to tell me you can't do something I've done many, many times. You ever see those old movies where someone starts a car by turning a crank in front? That was the wind up a spring, which when released turned the crankshaft enough to get the process started (a dangerous method - my father's arm was shattered once when the crank handle kicked back). $\endgroup$ Aug 21 '20 at 23:57
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf I concur with Mr. Sinclair; it used to be that a car could be started by actuating the crankshaft. Ironically, that's a major part of why modern engines use such damnably complex ways to do simple things - the multitude of separate systems makes it so that thieves can't steal cars in this way. $\endgroup$
    – The Daleks
    Aug 22 '20 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ I haven't bothered to keep up with engine design, but I sincerely doubt that even modern cars power the spark plugs using the eletrical system. The voltage neccesary to obtain the spark is much greater than the 12 volts that automotive electrical systems are designed for. This is why it is generated by a magneto instead - that and because the magneto current is automatically timed to the crankshaft speed meaning you don't have to keep monitoring and adjusting your timing as the engine changes speeds. Even if modern cars are designed differently, any 1957 vehicle will start this way. $\endgroup$ Aug 22 '20 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Paul Sinclair: Except for antiques, automotive engines don't use magnetos. (Though aircraft piston engines do.) Most cars from the 1930s to the advent of electronic ignition systems used a coil and distributor. The distributor had a set of points (later replaced by solid state devices) that opened and closed when each cylinder needed to fire. That closing sent a pulse of 12-volt electricity through the coil, which stepped it up to ~20K volts to create a spark in the plug. Suggest learning something about auto mechanics: carparts.com/blog/a-short-course-on-ignition-systems $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Aug 22 '20 at 5:03
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Star Wars Rebels had Jedi able to do basically the same thing to a door lock by visualizing the mechanism. Is that close enough to what you mean?

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