There are few things more frustrating than locking your keys in your own car. Slamming your foot into a piece of furniture or slipping on ice are comparable, but at least the pain of those two things wears off after a while.
When you’re locked out of the car, you’re forced to figure out a way back in and most of us aren’t aware of what to do when you lock your keys in your car.
We’re going to discuss that idea in this article, giving you some insight into what to do when you find yourself locked out.
What to Do When You Lock Your Keys in Your Car
Handling keys is something that we do so often that most of the actions we use are second-nature. Really, how often do you carefully think about placing your keys in the ignition or slipping them into your pocket when you hop out of the vehicle?
Probably not often. Typically, when we fail to do something that we normally do unconsciously, we’re under a good deal of stress. That’s why it always seems like these sorts of things always happen at the absolute worst times.
You’re moving into a new place, you’re rushing to meet your boyfriend’s parents for the first time, your family is going on vacation, or you’re painfully late for work. We’re sure you can insert a few of your own situations into that list, but you get the picture.
So, what do you do when you’re locked out? We’ll explore your options.
We’re going to assume that you aren’t currently locked out of your car for this section. If you are, however, skip down to our section entitled “DIY methods.”
Ideally, you’re reading this in preparation for a time when you do lock yourself out and have a little time to make decisions. Here are a few preparatory things you can take care of to spare yourself the pain of panic when that time comes.
Have an Extra Key
Duh. We know you what you’re thinking.
Everyone out there probably has an extra key to their car somewhere. If you don’t have one, now is the time.
While we all have a spare, it’s what we do with that spare that counts. Many people hide their spare key inside their car, which seems a little counterintuitive. It seems a little dangerous to hide your key on the outside of your car, though.
We’ve all seen movies where a spare key is inside the gas door or above a tire somewhere. Sure, it would be really helpful to have those keys there if you were locked out of your vehicle, but what if the car gets stolen?
If you’re going to place your key on the outside of your vehicle somewhere, make sure it’s a darn good hiding spot. We’re taking FBI agent-level stealth, and know the risk of leaving that key on the outside of your vehicle.
The most effective thing to do, though, would be to hide your key somewhere at your place of work or at your home where someone could grab it for you. If you get locked out at home, great, you can just grab the key. Make sure that you can actually get into your garage if that’s where you keep the key, though.
If you’re out on the town and you’re locked out, though, you might have to make a phone call to get someone to pick up the key and bring it to you.
Assess the Safety of Your Situation
It’s never a great idea to spend long amounts of time on the side of the road, especially if it’s the highway. People are mindless, they drive outside of the lines, and you are in danger just by virtue of being on a busy road.
If there’s any possibility of danger, you need to get to safety and leave the vicinity of your vehicle, as difficult as that may be. Generally, you should call for help immediately if you’re anywhere on the side of the road.
Parking lots and driveways are safe, busy roads and streets are not.
In fact, if you are truly in a spot where there’s any more than a small chance of you getting hit, dial 911. The police can come and diffuse the situation and help you find a way to get into your car while you’re absolutely safe.
Pay for a Roadside Assistance Service
There are plenty of roadside assistance services that are in contact with locksmiths, tow trucks, and mechanics all over the country.
Paying a monthly or yearly fee for these services could potentially be an investment that pays for itself many times over. Financial benefits aside, it’s nice to know that you’re able to make a phone call and have almost all of your roadside issues handled within an hour or two.
So, if you’re a person who’s very likely to lock their keys in their car more than once or twice a year, it might be a wise choice to pay for a roadside assistance service. You’ll save money on tow trucks, locksmith services, and much more.
You’ll have someone there to help you even if you run out of gas in the middle of the highway.
Have a Locksmith’s Number
Figure out who your local automotive locksmiths are and put their number in your phone. It might even be a good idea to write that number down on a slip of paper and keep it in your wallet.
Who knows? Your phone could be dead or inside the car, and you could use a business phone to make the call.
Locksmiths can come to your location, open your car, and send you on your merry way. You’d be surprised at how fast professionals can solve the problem that you thought was the end of the world.
If you’re unlikely to need these services very often, you might be better off skipping the annual fee and just working directly with a locksmith. While rates are lower when you have the membership to roadside assistance, you’ll be paying less if you’re an infrequent customer.
Check All of Your Doors
This is another one that seems extremely obvious. That said, you’re stuck on the side of the road, do you really have anything better or more helpful to do?
Just be sure to check all of the doors of your vehicle, including the trunk or back latch. A lot of vehicles have quirks that prevent one or two doors from locking at times, and there’s no harm in double-checking all of the doors before you start making phone calls.
We know it’s a stressful situation and it’s happening at the worst possible time, but you might be able to answer all your problems by checking the trunk handle.
Now let’s get to the ways you could potentially enter your car when all other options fail.
We want to emphasize the fact that breaking, and we mean breaking, into your car is almost always a bad idea. There are ways to enter your car peacefully even when it’s locked.
Trying to finagle your way into a vehicle by force can be extremely dangerous to your health, not to mention the cost of repairs you’ll have to pay on your vehicle. So, take note of the following points, but don’t resort to drastic measures if they don’t work while you’re in a pinch.
The Shoelace Method
This method is all about finesse. Finesse, and knowing how to tie a slip knot.
A slipknot is one that tightens when you pull the string from both sides. For our intents and purposes, we won’t have time to explain how to tie a slip knot but know that it is an integral part of this process.
First, take off one of your shoelaces. If your shoes don’t have laces, this is not the method for you to use, unfortunately.
Additionally, this method will only work if your car is equipped with post locks. These are the locks that pop up straight from the door panel and lock or unlock the door if they’re pressed down or pulled up.
If you’re lucky, the post lock will stick up about an inch or so even while it’s in the locked position.
Next, tie the slip knot so that a loop sits somewhere near the middle of the string. Find an object to slip between the edge of the door and your car’s frame so that you can wedge the door open just enough to get the lace through.
Hold one end of the lace near either side of the door so that you can drop the center down and carefully land it around the post lock. When it’s in position, pull the strings very tight and pull up to unlock the door.
Something to Keep in Mind
The idea of having a wedge on-hand probably isn’t common to most people. If there’s any way you can stash a wedge of some kind on the exterior of your car, that’s great.
Otherwise, be selective with what you choose. Putting force on an object that’s intended to open your car door could cause damage to your car.
With that in mind, you may want to place a cloth or sock in between the wedge and the surface of your vehicle so that you don’t cause any damages. Additionally, only wedge enough space for the shoelace or other items to get through.
Putting too much pressure on your door frame could potentially damage things like your window glass or your locking mechanisms.
The Tool Method
This method is pretty similar, albeit a little less slick than the shoelace method.
Your two main objectives are to find a wedge and a long tool to reach in and unlock the door, whether that’s through the handle or the locking mechanism.
If you can find a thin object that fits through the wedge but is too long or stiff to arch down to the driver’s side lock, consider reaching to the other side and pulling the passenger door handle with it.
Unfortunately, items that are thin and firm enough to fit through the wedge and have enough force to pull or push a lock are hard to find. If you’re on the side of the road, it might be nearly impossible to find the items needed.
If there are shops nearby you might have to make a purchase or two to get back into your vehicle. On the other hand, you’re likely to have these items in your garage or someplace in your home.
It might be useful to go out and buy or order some unlocking tools online so that you can use them if you’re locked out of your car at home. That, or you could have someone come and deliver your tools if you’re away from home.
Things to Keep in Mind
Remember that you might look like you’re stealing a vehicle when you’re trying to get into your own locked car. This is just a fact, and it shouldn’t deter you from trying to get into your car if you have to.
At worst, the police will come and question what you’re doing. They will run your plates and discover that you own the car you’re trying to get into.
Additionally, remember that an alarm will likely go off when you get in. Either that, or it will go off as you’re trying to wedge the door open. This is also, unfortunately, just the way it is under these circumstances.
We should be happy that our vehicles are equipped enough to protect themselves, and that passersby and police officers are considerate enough to make sure that there aren’t any crimes being committed.
That said, you could avoid all of that by calling a locksmith service as soon as you were locked out.
Want to Know More About Locksmith Services?
So, now you know what to do when you lock your keys in your car. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to find the right tools on the side of the road, though, so you might have to bite the bullet and call a locksmith. We’re here to help with that.
Explore our site to learn more about all kinds of lock issues and how to solve them.