I LOCKED MYSELF OUT OF MY CAR: WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Imagine you have a busy day of meetings, work, and errands ahead of you. As you step out of your car to run into your favorite coffee shop, you realize something doesn’t feel right.
You walk back out to your car only to realize you locked your keys in your car. You see them resting on the seat, only a couple of feet away. Your stomach sinks to the ground and you feel completely helpless.
If you’re thinking “What do I do with my locked keys in my car?” you’ll be happy to learn there are many ways to get your keys out. Even if it’s an emergency, there’s a way to get your keys out.
Of course, locking keys in your car is never a great situation. In some cases, people might lock their keys in their vehicle while it’s running, a child in the car, or a pet in the car. Factor in unfavorable weather and you have yourself an emergency.
So, what do you do when you lock your keys in your car?
No matter your situation, locking your keys in your car can cause you to panic. Panicking prevents you from making smart decisions. You’ll end up making rash decisions without thinking through all your options.
Stay calm. Then, consider whether your situation is an emergency. Depending on your situation, the options to unlock your car door may vary.
First, check to see if any door remained unlocked. If not, don’t try to act like a criminal as this can cause onlookers to believe you’re breaking into someone else’s car. Keep your cool and consider your options before doing anything extreme.
It’s Only You
Are you the only one locked out of your car?
In this case, your situation isn’t an emergency. Yes, it may be urgent because you have places to be but your life or someone else’s life isn’t at risk.
You’ll have to call a locksmith to unlock your car for you. If you locked your wallet and phone in your car, too, you can walk to a nearby business and ask to borrow their phone. If you’re in a rural area you may have to wave down a passing car and ask to use their phone.
In either of these cases, you may be able to call the police and ask for the number of nearby towing or locksmith company.
Bad Weather & Your Environment
The weather or environment can cause your situation to go from a minor set back to an emergency.
Extreme temperatures and storms are a sign of an emergency, especially if you don’t have shelter. An unsafe neighborhood or rural area are both reasons for an emergency.
Staying outside in bad weather can lead to injury and health problems and an unsafe environment is dangerous. In these cases, you’ll want to call the police to help or wait with you until help arrives.
If you locked your phone inside your car, you may need to consider breaking into your car or wave a passing car to help.
A Child or Pet Locked in the Car
“Have I locked keys in my car with my child?” This a nightmare for any parent.
Locking a child or a pet in your car with your keys is an emergency. This is especially true when the temperature is extremely warm or cold. This can put the life of your child or pet in danger if they need to wait a long time to get out.
In this case, immediately call the police. If you don’t have your phone or are in a remote area, you might have to break into your car.
After you determine the urgency of your situation, you can start considering your options.
I’VE LOCKED KEYS IN MY CAR – HERE’S WHAT TO DO
When you lock your keys in your car, you’re not completely helpless. Actually, you have many options to get back inside your car. Here’s what you can do when you lock your keys in your car.
WHERE’S MY SPARE KEY?
Before you make any decisions, ask yourself about your spare key. Do you have one and is it nearby? Using a spare key can be the most efficient way to unlock your car.
You can save yourself time and money by asking a neighbor to or your partner to grab your spare key from home and drive it to you. However, this only works if you’re within a reasonable distance from home. Your neighbor or partner will need a house key to get into your home, too.
Another option is to call a taxi to take you home. As long as you have a spare house key accessible, you can grab your spare car key, ride back to your locked car, and unlock it.
But more common than not, we’re far from home or don’t have a spare house key accessible. In this case, using a spare key might not be an option.
Do you have an OnStar subscription? OnStar can unlock your vehicle remotely. Just give them a call and they’ll have you back into your car in no time.
Many vehicles are compatible with smartphones. This means you can access your vehicle from an app on your phone. Not only can you start your car remotely, but you can also unlock it right from your smartphone.
Does your car have a keypad? A keypad allows you to set a security code to unlock your vehicle. Take advantage of this and set up a code so you can access your vehicle without a key.
DO I HAVE ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE?
The next question to ask yourself is do you have roadside assistance? This includes programs such as AAA and your insurance policy.
Give your auto insurance provider a call to find out if your policy covers roadside assistance. Not all insurance policies cover this and may have stipulations as to what’s covered.
For example, an insurance policy may cover the cost of a roadside professional or towing company to come onsite to help with your car. But if they can’t open your car, they may need to call a locksmith. Some policies may not cover the costs of a locksmith.
When you call for roadside assistance, it can take some places 1 or 2 hours to reach you, depending on your location. If you’re in an unsafe area or in bad weather, make sure to mention this to speed up service. However, be honest if you’re in a safe location.
Keep your insurance card and roadside assistance card in your wallet. This way you have their information to call them in the event of an emergency.
Do you have a newer vehicle? Most new vehicles come with warranties that include roadside assistance. Check your warranty to see if it covers the costs for a car lockout.
You can call your dealership if you’re unsure. This also helps you save money by not purchasing redundant coverage for your vehicle.
Credit Card Perks
Many credit cards offer perks that go beyond saving money and rewards. Some cards that require you to pay an annual fee may include roadside assistance or offer it for purchase. Try calling your credit card company to see if your card includes it.
WILL THE POLICE HELP WHEN I LOCKED KEYS IN MY CAR?
“I’ve locked keys in my car, can I call the police?” The answer to this varies depending on your situation.
If you’re under the age of 18 and are in a life-threatening emergency, the police are able to help you out.
Emergencies include locking a child in the car with your keys or locking yourself out in bad weather. In these cases, the police can help you back into your car.
Others include locking yourself out in a dangerous neighborhood or rural area at night. Even if the police can’t help you unlock your car, they can wait with you until help arrives. If the police do help you back into your car, there’s the risk they may damage your vehicle.
If you’re over age 18 and are not in an emergency, it’s unlikely the police will help unlock your car for you. Their primary duty is to provide public safety to those who need it.
You can call the non-emergency line to get information about local locksmiths and towing companies who can help you. Be honest if they ask if you’re in an emergency as they may base getting help to you on your level of urgency.
CALL A LOCKSMITH OR TOW SERVICE COMPANY
For the best service, you should call an emergency locksmith or tow service company. Calling a local locksmith or tow company is the most efficient and will speed up the process of unlocking your car.
If your insurance policy or national roadside carrier offers roadside assistance, call them first. When you call, you will need the following information:
- Your policy number
- Vehicle’s location
- Your (best) contact information
They can call you a service company that your policy covers. This can prevent out-of-pocket costs.
Another money-saving option is to pay the locksmith on the spot and file the claim with your provider later. This will speed up the process of unlocking your car.
Always try to keep cash on you in the event of an emergency. Most tow companies and some locksmiths may offer a discount for cash payments versus card payments.
DIY DOOR UNLOCK
Your final option is a DIY break-in to unlock your car. This should be your last option as it can damage your vehicle and look suspicious to bystanders. You should never attempt to break into a rental car as you will be liable for any damages.
There are several tools you’ll need to do a DIY door unlock. A few worth having on hand are a wedge, string, a wire coat hanger, or a blood pressure cuff. If you’re in an urban area, you may be close to a store where you can buy these items.
Using a Blood Pressure Cuff & Hanger
Most professionals will use an air pump to wedge open a car door. Slide a deflated blood pressure cuff between the door and frame of your car.
Gently add air until a small gap appears. Be careful not to overinflate the cuff as this can damage your car door.
Take a flattened wire clothes hanger or a stick and place it through the small opening. You can press the unlock button or retrieve your keys through the crack.
Breaking a Window
In the event of an emergency, you can break a window to unlock your car. This is dangerous and is an expensive repair. It’s best you don’t try this with a rental vehicle or when you’re borrowing a friend’s vehicle.
You will need an object such as a hammer, screwdriver or a claw, but a rock can also work. Try breaking the glass closer to the edge of the window as the center is one of the strongest parts. Hit the window with the object until it shatters.
Make sure you break a window that’s the farthest from your child or pet. Again, breaking a window should be your last resort if you have no other options available.
HOW TO AVOID LOCKED KEYS IN MY CAR
There are a few steps you can take to avoid locking yourself out of your car. Here are a few tips you can practice to prevent locking your keys in your car:
- Only use your key fob to lock your vehicle
- Have spare key in a magnetic lockbox on the outside of your car
- Leave a spare key with a nearby friend or family member
- Pair your vehicle with your smartphone
- Buy or lease a car with a “smart key”
Practicing these few tips will help reduce your risk of locking your keys in your car.
UNLOCK YOUR CAR THE SMART WAY
“I’ve locked keys in my car, but everything is going to be okay.” Staying calm and considering all your options is the best way to get your car unlocked.
The next time you lock yourself out of your car, give us a call. We have several emergency services to help you get back in your car and on your way.