I Locked My Keys In My Car: What Next?
Keys, locked in the car. That sentence is enough to send shivers down any driver’s spine. There are few events that can make you feel more desperately helpless. There you are, standing with all of your groceries next to your vehicle. You were absolutely sure that you picked them back up! After all, you had only leaned over to grab your bag and shopping list. But, alas, you left them sitting right there on the seat when you got out and went inside of the store. And now you’re stuck in an impossible situation that makes you feel small, silly, and totally clueless. The worst part is that you can see your keys. They’re right there! The thought of being so close to them, and yet so far away, is enough to drive even the most level-headed among us totally bonkers.
Seriously. You’re about two feet away from being in your vehicle, separated only by metal and glass… Neither of which you want to damage to get your hands on your keys. But they’re right there, and you can see them.
But you can’t get to them.
The first thing you want to do is just breathe. Most of us have been there, and while it’s surely stressful it isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it’s speculated that there is a growing number of people in the US doing the very same. You’re in good company! After all, with so many people falling into the same trap you can be sure there are multiple ways to get yourself out of it. Even if you find yourself in a situation that you really are stuck in there are people you can turn to for the answer.
We’re going to talk about what you can do to get back in your car, as well as what resources are available if you need them. Stay tuned for some helpful information that you’re going to want before the situation arises! Being prepared goes a helluva a long way in preventing these problems before they pop up.
The First Steps
Before we get into more technical jargon we’re going to start with some easy, peasy things you can do. These might seem like common sense, but it can be hard to get your head straight when you’re worked up. I’m sure all of us can relate to turning a molehill into a mountain! Make sure before you do anything else that you go through this checklist to ensure you aren’t getting worked up over nothing.
Stop, Look, Locks: So, your driver’s door is locked. Have you checked the other doors? Hear us out! Sometimes one of the other doors might still be unlocked, and it’s good to give them all a check. The only thing worse than locking your keys in your car is calling roadside assistance only to have them walk over, look at your car, and open the rear passenger door. Problem solved, but it’s just a little humiliating. And by that we mean it’s totally humiliating.
Check The Trunk: The next step is to see if you can get into the trunk. Sometimes even when the keys are locked inside you can still access your car through the back. Countless folks have had to squeeze through their back seats to regain access. It looks silly, but it certainly works, and is better than a bill from a locksmith!
Low Battery Woes: It’s story time! This is probably one of the funniest things you’ll hear all day, to be honest. It provides perfect comic relief to an otherwise awful predicament. It also serves as a good word of caution to the rest of us. There was a blurb circulating social media a few weeks back detailing a key-locked-in-car escapade. A man tried to get into his car, but his key wasn’t working. Essentially, he was locked out and had no idea why. This prompted him, naturally, to phone for a locksmith.
When the locksmith arrived he took the key from the man. “Ah yes,” He said (at least, we imagine), “I see your problem.” He pressed a button, the metal key popped out of the fob and unlocked the car.
The guy who called for the locksmith literally forgot he could unlock his car manually. He thought that because his fob was dead he was out of luck. Of course, this was probably prompted by stress, being overtired, or what have you. It seems like such a dumb thing to do, but any of us could fall for the same thing! Make sure that you aren’t just blanking on manually unlocking your vehicle. While it’s a hilarious story to tell, nobody wants to the butt of that joke.
Be Aware Of The Spare: When you get a car you normally are given two keys. There’s a good reason for this! When you have a spare you can rest assured that you’ll always have a backup in case this unfortunate event happens to you. You should give the spare to a responsible, trusted person who will generally be available to help. We suggest your partner, a parent, a sibling, or even your best friend. As soon as you read “responsible, trusted person” somebody probably popped into your mind. Go with them! If all else fails there are some people who keep their spares in their purse, or in the bed of their vehicle (if they have a truck).
You may also want to look into investing in a magnetic box for your spare. These can stick to your car in an inconspicuous place out of sight. However, you should be absolutely sure that your car isn’t going to be at risk for theft. We recommend only using this as a solution in relatively low-crime areas and removing the spare if you enter more dangerous areas. Also, be sure to invest in a high-quality magnetic case! It would be terrible on top of terrible to realize that the box has fallen off at some point when you reach down to get it.
Tips On Getting Back In
This section is dedicated to all the little tricks you can try to unlock it yourself. While we definitely encourage you to try some of these, if you’re a novice you may want to shy away from some. We’ll split it into beginner tips, and advanced techniques. Sometimes it’s better to defer to the experts when you’re in a tough spot, especially when dealing with something as expensive as your car. The last thing you want to do is accidentally break your door, or the lock, since that’ll prevent you from accessing it at all!
Emergency Situations: In the case of an emergency you may have no alternative to breaking a window. This can include children and pets being locked in the car. If the weather is even moderately warm the temperature inside the car can skyrocket in just a few minutes. Every second counts, so don’t wait for help or try to unlock it. Get your pet, or child, out by smashing the window. You can fix a window, but you can’t replace a life.
There are guides to breaking a window safely, which we recommend reading. There are even glass cutters you can keep on your keychain in case you need them. These are exceptional devices responsible for saving many lives. They come in handy in a variety of situations, especially accidents or, even worse, a crash into the water. If you haven’t invested in one of these yet you should! Window breakers are one of those things that you don’t need until you need them, and then you really, really need them.
These are tips that anybody should be able to use! You probably won’t have to worry about excess damage being done, and should at least give these tricks a try before calling for help.
Save Yourself With A Shoestring: Yes, you read that correctly. Weird, but it works. That’s becoming somewhat of a mantra on Motorful! We like to provide the best tricks, and sometimes the strange ones are the most successful! Unfortunately, this will only work for locking mechanisms that unlock by pulling up. It’s a pretty simple process, however, it might be hard to get the hang of.
You’re going to make a small loop with the shoestring right in the middle of it. Slip the shoestring into the car by working it down between the space where the frame and door come together. When you get the loop around the lock, tighten it and give it a yank. Presto! It does sound easier than it is, but once you get the hang of it you’re golden.
The Coat Hanger Hack: Ah, yes! A tried and true favorite of many people who’ve landed themselves in hot water. The coat hanger trick is probably the most notorious hack of all. Most people have heard of it… but now many people know how to do it? Not many! But that’s why we’re here.
First, you need a coat hanger. Make sure it’s wire! Once you untwist the hanger you’ll be able to slip it through the weather stripping on the door of your car. You’ll want to make a little hook with it so it can catch the locking mechanism. Keep in mind that it might take you a little to wiggle it around and find the right spot! Even though it’s time-consuming it’s still sometimes better than a bill from an expert.
These are methods we do not advise people who are unfamiliar with cars as a whole to use. Essentially, if you’ve done a little DIY you’ll probably be good to go (and if you haven’t go check out our DIY guides!), Still, if you are uncomfortable at any point, call for backup. We offer these solutions as a way to help you avoid a bill. If at any time you suspect you might be costing yourself a larger bill, then stop and get help. Now, with that warning out of the way, let’s talk about a couple more ways you can help yourself!
The Strongarm Method: This is probably one of the quicker ways to get the desired result. You’re going to need a metal rod, as well as a Phillips screwdriver. We caution you that any time where you’re prying open a car door you might cause damage. Exercise extreme caution when tackling your problem with this specific method! While it is the quickest way, it is not the easiest.
Use the screwdriver to pry open the door a little bit so that you can slip the pole in. We recommend finding one that is as slim as possible so that you can lessen your risk of damage. If you don’t have these items on hand then call a friend who might be able to bring them. If there’s a store nearby you should be able to get what you need, too!
An Inflatable Aid: One of the last pieces of advice we’ll give you is to use an inflatable item of some sort. This is essentially the same trick as mentioned above, but it pops the door open in a different way. An air pressure cuff would work best for this, but most people don’t have access to one of those. If you do, or somebody you know does, great! Call them over, and get it done.
You can also buy these from pharmacies in most cases if there’s one nearby you can get to. Just slide the inflated cuff halfway into the top of the door, and inflate it little by little until there’s enough of a gap for you to slip a metal stick of some sort down inside of it. From here you can access the unlock button with your tool of choice with a little patience and care.
At this point, if you haven’t been able to get it open then it’s time. You know what we mean. You really just need to call for backup. There’s no shame in figuring out that you’re in over your head! It’s a tough lesson to learn, but once you experience it you know what not to do next time. If you have roadside assistance that’ll be the way to go. Is there a dealer for your make close to you? They might be able to help if you’re in warranty! Locksmiths are a go-to if all else fails, and so are towing companies.
Well, that about does it for today. With all of these tips and tricks, you’re bound to find one that works for you. Next time you run into a situation like this you’ll be ready! Or, better yet, if somebody you know needs help you can offer them your assistance. Hey, it can suck to be the “go-to person” for all things automotive, but it also brings a sense of pride. After all, everybody loves to feel appreciated, and like they’re saving the day. So, go forth and rescue your friends in danger!
Or yourself, if you aren’t careful.
- Wonder How To – 15+ Tips For Getting Inside a Car or House When Locked Out
- The Balance – What to Do When Your Keys Are Locked in Car
- Dummies – Tips for Getting Into Your Car Without Your Keys