Locked Out of Your Car? Here’s What to Do
Few things are more traumatic than being locked out of your car. Maybe you lock the keys in the car. Perhaps you lose the key itself. Maybe the door locks and the key stops working for some reason and you find yourself locked out of your car.
However it happens, locking yourself out is never fun! Alas, it happens to approximately 4 million motorists every single year.
A lockout usually happens quickly and with no forewarning.
So quickly, in fact, that it takes a while for your mind to catch up with the reality of the situation. As it does, your heart sinks and your pulse races as you realize what’s happened.
Without a spare key, you feel stuck- unsure how to respond and salvage the situation.
It’s stressful, anxiety-provoking, and in some cases even dangerous. Needless to say, knowing how to cope with a car lockout makes a vital difference. Thankfully, with the right insight and approach, the predicament can easily be turned around.
We’d like to help in that endeavor! Locked out of the car and wondering what to do next?
Read on to discover the top tips for regaining entry to your vehicle.
1. Check Each Window and Door
Okay, the worst-case scenario has just come true.
For one reason or another, you’re locked outside your vehicle. Panic ensues.
The first thing to try (and that you’d probably do out of pure panic-stricken instinct anyway) is to check each door and window. Walk around the car, looking and testing to see if everything’s properly shut and locked.
Depending on the circumstance, they might not be.
For example, faulty locking mechanisms can sometimes lock of their own accord. In these cases, it isn’t unheard of for one or more of the doors to remain unlocked. The lock might not have fully closed, allowing easy entry back inside.
The same goes if you’ve locked the keys in the vehicle. You might be lucky and find that one door, or the trunk, remains open.
It goes without saying that anyone in possession of a physical key should use it to unlock the door manually. The remote might be broken, but the key itself should be fine.
2. Phone a Friend
Sometimes calling for help is the best way out of the mess and back into the car.
Do you have a friend or family member with a spare key to your car? Or, do they have access to your house, where there’s a spare key lying around?
Either way, give them a ring to see if they can lend a hand. You might have to wait around for them to arrive. Yet, in non-emergency situations, that isn’t the end of the world.
Of course, there will be a few instances when calling friends/family isn’t the ideal solution.
Examples include being a long way from home or having someone or something stuck in the car. In these situations, it’s better to call professional services closer to your destination for speedier support.
3. Contact Roadside Assistance
Do you pay for a roadside assistance program such as AAA?
Well, you might be in luck.
These mobile vehicle support people often have the tools and know-how to unlock the car. You might have to pay an excess for the privilege. However, get in touch with them to inquire about the support they have available.
There’s a good chance they can drive out to your location and unlock the vehicle.
As it happens, the same might be true of your car insurance company. Assuming it’s covered by your policy, they might pay for someone to come and help as well.
Unsure about your policy details? Give the provider a ring, just in case. At the very least, the person you talk to could have further suggestions for how to proceed.
4. Call the Police
You might not think your car lockout is police business.
But you’d be surprised.
After all, their job is to protect the public! You’re having a personal emergency and might qualify for support. Nicely, police often have tools that can help you regain entry in a reasonable time.
This is particularly true when children are involved. Police are sure to put peddle to the metal if there’s a child locked in a hot and stuffy car.
This police skillset makes sense when you think of some of the situations they deal with.
Imagine a patrol coming across someone sick and unmoving inside a locked car. The ability to access it could be the difference between life and death.
Now, hopefully, your particular problem isn’t such an emergency. But it might be.
Picture someone locked their car in a dangerous place, or feel threatened by people in the environment. Calling on police to help becomes all the more justifiable.
It goes without saying that you should call them as soon as possible if you feel in danger.
A final perk of this approach is the lack of expense involved. Contrary to other options on this list, this is one service for which you won’t have to pay!
5. Call a Professional Locksmith
A professional locksmith is one of the best ways to regain entry to your car.
If you’ve tried the doors and have no spare key to call upon, then a locksmith will be an instant help. You pay for the service. Yet you avoid the struggle and stress of trying to unlock the car by yourself.
Remember, these are the experts of locks! This is what they do. With their insight, equipment, and expertise, they come to your location and get you back in the car in no time.
It’s important to actually know your location though.
An emergency locksmith won’t be able to help if they can’t find you. Make sure you have an address to give them or an accurate description of the site it’s at. This is harder when you’ve had to leave the car to find a phone signal.
Of course, you need a phone on which to contact them too. If you don’t have a phone with signal or power to hand, try asking someone in the vicinity to borrow theirs.
6. Use a Metal Rod
Let’s assume you’re out of luck.
The car’s still well and truly locked. Thankfully, there are far more options to try.
Next up, try to find yourself a long metal rod (like a wire coat-hanger that you’ve opened out) and something to use as a wedge (like a crowbar, or something else of that nature). The success of this technique relies entirely on access to these two objects.
Anybody with access to nothing of this nature should move onto the next tip. However, for those fortunate enough to have them, let’s proceed…
Use the wedge to jimmy open the door from its frame. Don’t be too rough and ready here- you don’t want to damage the metal or glass. All you need is a small gap in which to insert the long rod-like implement you’ve found.
From there, use the rod to manipulate the locking mechanism.
For example, someone with post-locks (the ones on the window sill that you pull up and push down to unlock or lock the door, respectively) could try lifting the lock.
With a bit of luck, you’ll be able to unlock the doors. Here’s more info on this process.
7. Keep On With the Rod
Right, the first attempts with the rod might have failed.
Let’s imagine that the post lock remains immovable. The next thing to try is pushing the unlock button. In more modern cars there’s an actual button to push that unlocks the vehicle.
Obviously, anybody with this button, and a rod that’s long enough to reach it, should give that a shot! Equally, for keys with a remote, try using the rod to press the buttons there instead.
A third and final approach applies to someone who’s locked the keys in the car.
More often than not they’re lying on the driver’s seat, tantalizingly in view.
In these cases, you can take the rod and fashion a hook on one end. Assuming the rod’s long enough, re-insert it into the gap you’ve made (between the door and frame) and set about fishing for the keys.
With a rod that’s long and strong enough, the trickiest bit isn’t hooking them- it’s actually getting them out. You’ll need a gap that’s big enough to grab them.
Which tack you take, this is fiddly work with significant room for error (not to mention scratches and damage to the car).
Only give it a shot if you’re reasonably confident in what you’re doing.
8. Lasso Yourself a Post Lock (1)
Get a deft touch and have a length of string to hand?
Well, with the rod long forgotten, it’s time to get to work. This next technique isn’t easy, but with patience and dexterity (and only with a post lock on the door!) you might have some luck.
Take your string and fashion a slip knot at the end. Next, use the same wedge as before to create a gap between the door and its frame. Then, drop the string down and try to latch the knot over the post lock.
If you succeed with this lassoing attempt, do your best to pull the string and tighten the knot. Then, tug upwards to unlock the door. And voila- you’re in!
Top tip: no string? Try using your shoelaces instead.
9. Lasso Yourself a Post Lock (2)
Step 1 is great if you have a wedge.
But it’s no good for anyone who doesn’t.
Thankfully, there’s the possibility of using the same piece of string to unlock the car anyway. Now, we’ll point out that this second lasso technique is even fiddlier than the first. But with all the other options expended, it’s worth a shot.
Take your string and tie a loop in the middle. Then, go to the top corner of the door and do your best to work the string between the frame and weather stripping. Pulling it tight and moving back and forth should allow you to succeed.
The loop should now be on the inside of the car.
From there, begin to move the string so that the loop is level with the post lock. Finally, try to fit the loop over it, tighten, and move the ends of the string back up to a vertical position.
Give it a tug and, in theory, you should unlock the door.
10. Install a Spare Key!
The best way to handle a lockout is to stop it happening in the first place.
To do that, have a spare key somewhere on the car.
Unfortunately, that’s not always easy. Where on earth would you put it? It’s not like a house, where you can hide a key under a plant pot, or give it to a neighbor.
The good news is that it’s definitely possible.
It’s just a matter of finding a secure place on the outside of the car to affix and hide it.
Some people might use a zip tie to fit a spare directly onto an accessible part of the car. Others could opt for a key holder to attach to the vehicle instead. These clever devices are like mini-safes designed to hold spare keys.
Some are magnetic and attach directly to the metal of the car. However, it’s a good idea to attach it with something else too though (zip ties or adhesives etcetera).
The last thing you want is to hit a bump and have the holder fall off!
Be sure to fit them in harder-to-reach places too. Petty thieves know people do this and check in the obvious locations (the underside of wheel wells and bumpers) for an easy win.
How to Respond When Locked Out of Your Car
Getting locked out of your car is never fun.
But it’s far from the end of the world! Thankfully, there are all sorts of ways to rectify the situation and regain entry. Hopefully, this article has revealed a selection of the best methods to do it.
Locked out in Austin TX and want some professional help? Contact us today.