Nothing is more frustrating than seeing your keys on the driver’s seat.
And you’re standing outside.
To make you feel better, a survey shows the third most misplaced items in the U.S are car keys.
But to ensure you can retrieve your keys locked in the car, we’ve compiled tips so you can continue your day hassle-free.
Are You 100% Locked Out?
Before you worry about who to call to unlock your car, check every door is locked. It may sound silly but try the trunk so you can get back into the vehicle by folding the seats through the back.
Do You Have a Spare Key?
You’ve left keys in the car and it’s 100% locked. It’s possible to use a spare key but it depends on your situation. For example, if you don’t have space, how far away are you from home? Can a family member bring it over?
If you’re far away, consider the next question: “who to call when you lock your keys in your car?”
Once you’ve sorted this predicament, always keep an extra key handy. If you don’t want it on you, install a small magnetic box to hold the key and place it on the car’s underside.
Calling Roadside Assistance
All those monthly fees for roadside assistance will now pay off!
When you lock your keys in your car call AA, or a similar organization, to give you roadside service. There may be a waiting time but you’ll eventually get access to your car.
Don’t worry if you’re not subscribed to a roadside service, many new vehicles come with roadside service assistance during the warranty period. Or if you have comprehensive car insurance coverage, roadside assistance may be included.
You may not find the roadside assistance number because it’s on the owner manual. If so, check your window decal or call a dealership. Also, if you’re traveling abroad and have a roadside assistance membership, they may help.
Companies like AAA have reciprocal agreements with many international clubs that can come to your rescue. Always keep their membership card on you when you’re overseas just in case.
If you are using your insurance company, call to see if they’ll send you a locksmith. Some companies will reimburse you for the locksmith’s fee.
Should You Call the Police?
Officers used to help those locked out of cars, but nowadays, it’s less likely. Police ensure public safety so you shouldn’t call them unless the situation is dire.
For example, if your little one or pet is locked in the car on a hot day, then call the police for help.
Call a Locksmith
The safest way to regain access to your car is by calling a locksmith.
They use special tools designed to open locked cars so you’re guaranteed a safe entrance. If you’re using makeshift tools with no experience, you may cause serious damage to your car.
For example, you may tear the door’s rubber seal and cover your car door’s plastic panel with scratches. Many locksmiths charge a reasonable price so it’s best to use this option instead.
Also replacing a key, especially for high-end models, can cost several hundred dollars. But it’s possible to find a locksmith who can program the remote for you for a quicker and inexpensive option.
Call a Tow Truck
If you’ve run out of options, many towing companies offer lock-out services so call 411 to find one in your area.
Get a Temporary Key
Contact your dealership as they may give you an inexpensive key. Although it won’t start the engine, it will let you open the door so you can get your original key.
You must provide your vehicle identification number to prove the car is yours. Don’t worry if you can’t remember it, it’s displayed on the lower edge of the driver-side window.
Although to do this option, you’ll need a ride to the dealership.
How to Unlock Your Car Yourself
You must use either the electronic unlock button or the manual button of one door to access keys in the car.
The aim is to create an inch of space between the door and the frame so you can insert a tool into the car. Then push or pull one of the unlock buttons from the outside.
Most cars have two types of unlocking buttons. The electronic one is located on the driver side’s door panel and with a single click, you can unlock all doors at once.
The manual button is located on the other three doors and as you unlock the button, it’ll open the specific door. Many older vehicles don’t have an automatic unlock button, so you’ll have to unlock manual ones.
Before trying to get in, check each lock to see whether they need pulling or pressing. Then decide which button is easiest to access with the tools you have.
Pick Which Door to Open
This depends whether you’re targeting a manual or electronic unlock button. If your car doesn’t have a manual lock, or your electric one is in between the front seats, go for the driver’s side if you’re right-handed.
And if you’re left-handed, go for the passenger side. This is so you can comfortably use your dominant hand to aim and hit the button.
Wedge Your Door and the Frame Apart
There are several household items you can use to wedge the door open. You can use a rubber or plastic door stopper, a flathead screwdriver or anything that can slide between the door and frame.
Once you’ve created this gap between the door and frame, you can slide a tool in to click the unlock button. Aim to create enough wiggle room so you can move the tool in the space.
Once you have the wedge, slide it in the top part of the door furthest from the hinges. Push your wedge beyond the rubber seal so you can see the tip of it sticking out inside of the car, ensuring an inch of space between the door and the frame.
Find a Long, Slim Reach Tool
The best household tool to use is a wire coat hanger as it’s long and can be bent according to the unlock button’s location. If that’s not possible, find a firm branch with an angle in it so it can press the button without snapping.
Your vehicle may use a key fob, the one sitting on the seat, so try to press this if possible. Experiment by moving the wedge around the door frame, so you can access a better angle. Likewise with your reach tool.
Pull the Reach Tool and Wedge Out
You’ve hit the button and you’re gifted with the beautiful sound of your car unlocking. Congrats!
Before opening the door, though, consider the wedge. Because it’s separating the door and the frame, there is a lot of pressure on the door’s locking mechanism.
Because of this, if you open the door quickly, you release the pressure and the locking mechanism can break. And fixing this is far more expensive compared to hiring a locksmith.
Pull both the reach tool and wedge out, so the door returns to its normal position. Now you can open it!
Unlock Manual Locks with String or Fishing Line
Another option is to grab a few feet of twine or fishing line, create a loop in the middle of it, and work the line into the door’s opening. Next, hook the loop onto the locking mechanism and yank upwards. You’re in!
Invest in an Inflatable Pump Wedge
If you’re always getting locked out, buy an inflatable wedge kit. It will stop you from damaging the vehicle’s paint, which can happen if you mishandle metal tools.
Like the method discussed, the kit wedges open the door without you having to scramble for a household tool.
Use a Strip of Sturdy Plastic
You can fashion a makeshift door wedge out of spare plastic strips laying around your garage. Bend these and slide them in between the cracks of the car door to trigger manual locks.
Should You Break the Car’s Window?
Only consider this option as a last resort. Not only will it be more expensive than a locksmith, but you also may injure yourself.
You should consider this if it’s a life-threatening situation, and the emergency services are delayed. For example, if your child or pet is locked inside on a sweltering day, or you’re locked out in subzero temperatures.
If someone is in the car, break the farthest window away from them to prevent injury. It’s important to remember car windows are made from protective glass so they’re difficult to break.
The windshield is near impossible to break and side window glass is tempered, which means you’ll need the right equipment. You’ll need a tool like a hammer or a screwdriver to make the job easier.
If not, grab a medium-sized rock and break the glass closer to the window’s edge as it’s weaker. Be careful as you do this as car windows often shatter into small pieces.
Tips to Avoid Getting Locked Out
We’ve covered the solutions, now here are some ways to prevent this ordeal next time!
Keep Your Keys On You
Make a habit of holding onto your keys until you leave the car. Always put them in your pocket or purse, or at least in your hand when you get out.
A brightly colored key chain is a great way to keep track of your keys. Lanyards, charms, and decorative items can be used too.
Use the Key Fob to Lock the Doors
When you go to lock and unlock the car door, only use buttons on the key. This means you’ll always have your keys on you, and without them, you won’t be able to lock your vehicle doors.
Once you exit, do a quick check to ensure the car keys are in your hand, pocket, or purse.
Buy a Car With Benefits
Many vehicle models have features to prevent getting locked out of your car. For example, some cars won’t lock with the power-lock button if the key is in the ignition and the door is open.
Newer models let you tap in a code to unlock the door. You can also access your car by using your auto manufacturer’s mobile app.
First, sign up and pair the vehicle to your account to prevent lockouts in the future. For example, ‘myChevrolet’ turns into a remote key to unlock your vehicle, start its engine, and even locate it.
Many car brands have an app like this such as Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, and Subaru.
Replace Batteries in the Key Fob
Double-check your key fob’s batteries otherwise they won’t work when unlocking your vehicle. Also, check your vehicle’s battery to ensure it’s in working condition.
Have a Locksmith’s Number Ready
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so store a locksmith’s number on your phone. That way, if you are locked out, help is only a phone call away and a far cheaper option than subscribing to an auto club.
That’s How You Retrieve Keys Locked in the Car!
There are numerous ways to save your keys locked in the car. The safest way is to call a locksmith as they will have the tools and know-how to expertly retrieve your keys.
Avoid smashing the windows or doing it yourself as you may end up forking out for expensive damages. Good luck!
If you’re in the Nashville area and need a locksmith, we’d love to help. Contact us here for more details.