You go to your car and you have the unfortunate realization that you’re locked out. Maybe you locked your keys in the car or the keys are lost or in a mere moment, the keys break in what feels like a freak accident. You want to scream internally, but you try to remain calm. What do you do? It doesn’t matter if you’re on a road trip or just on your way back from the grocery store, these things can happen with no warning at all. Though it can be annoying and frustrating, here are some tips for how to get into a locked car.
1. Troubleshoot Your Locks
If you realize, “OMG, I locked my keys in my car” and are starting to freak out, the first step is to breathe. The next step is to troubleshoot your locks. The good news is you might be able to find a way back in by simply checking all of your car doors.
If you locked keys in car or lost them, there might be a door lock that did not close properly. Try all of the car doors and windows to see if you can get in. If you’re successful and do get in this way, great! Just be sure to fix the malfunctioning lock once you’ve retrieved your car keys, as unlocked cars are one of the top causes of car break-ins.
If you have your keys on you, but your car door lock is broken or malfunctioning, you can try getting into the car through your trunk.
Even if you don’t have a hatchback, you might be able to get into your car to unlock the doors through the trunk. Once you have your physical key (if you have one) try to unlock the door, as there may be an issue with your car’s remote that is preventing you from entering the vehicle.
2. Phone a Friend or Family Member
If you locked keys in car, it’s natural to panic a bit and wonder how the issue will get fixed. Being locked out of your car can put you in a vulnerable position, even if it does not seem like a full-blown roadside emergency. That’s why it’s crucial to call a friend or family member if there’s one nearby.
You’re put at risk by having to potentially get help from strangers or stand by the side of the road, so it is always a good idea to let people in your life know where you are and the situation you’re facing. If they can’t help you figure out how to get into a locked car, they can provide some much-needed emotional support, and also it can be a good safety measure to know your whereabouts.
In the absolute best-case scenario, your family member or friend has a spare key you can use to unlock your car and remedy the issue. But even if they don’t have a key, they may be able to help out by bringing you some supplies to help you manually unlock the door. Some tools that you might find helpful include: shoelaces (or comparable string), a doorstop, and a wire coat hanger, to name a few (more on that later).
3. Use Your Shoelace
If you’re trying to figure out how to get into a locked car, you’re probably not thinking that your shoes might come to the rescue. In fact, your shoelace may be able to help you unlock your car.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work with every type of car lock. In order for this to work, your car has to have post locks, which are the type of locks that stick straight up on the window sill.
You pull up to unlock them and can clearly see them from outside the car. If you have that type of car lock, here’s what to do:
- Start by removing your shoelace from one of your shoes.
- Eyeball around 5 inches from the middle of the lace.
- Tie a slip knot at that point.
- Work the shoelace between the door and the doorframe of the car at the midpoint, holding one end of the lace at the top of the window, and the other end on the side where the door would open.
- Use a flossing motion to loop the slip knot around the post lock.
- Pull on both ends of the shoelace to grip the post and pull upward while continuing to restrict/tighten the knot.
Hopefully, that will help unlock your car. If you’re wearing slip-on shoes or sandals and don’t have shoes with laces, if you’re with someone else see if you can borrow their shoelaces.
4. Use DIY Tools to Reach Inside
When it comes to tips for purchasing a car, chances are you didn’t consider whether your vehicle had post locks or not. If your car doesn’t have those types of locks, the good news is there are many DIY-friendly methods to get back into your locked car. Here are some tools you can use:
A coat hanger
If you have horizontal locks, you may be able to use a coat hanger by untwisting and molding it into a hook shape. Once you do that, try to use the car door and maneuver the hook around the lock. Then pull to see if it unlocks.
A screwdriver and metal rod
If you have a screwdriver and a metal rod, you can try to get your car door unlocked as well if you don’t have the keys. Use the screwdriver to open some space and then take the metal rod and push into the lock to see if it opens. Just be careful as these tools can damage the vehicle.
You might even find kitchen tools like a spatula may help if you’re trying to figure out how to get into a locked car. Take a spatula and place it between the car door to create space and pry the door open. If you can get the door to open with the spatula you can unlock it from the inside.
An air bag pump wedge
You can also get an air bag pump wedge that can be used to open your car door. Using this tool, the air is pushed between the car doors to make a door opening that is big enough to use tools so that you can effectively unlock the car.
If you have a strip of plastic, you can fold the plastic into a U-shape, and then with the bottom closed portion you can place it between the door jamb and lift it up.
5. Get Professional Help
Having locked keys in car is stressful enough. Sometimes you don’t have the time or energy to DIY it or your DIY attempts simply don’t work. If you’ve tried to figure out how to get into a locked car to no avail, it’s time to call the professionals.
You can get roadside assistance to help you with your car lock situation. These professionals can come to your location, but you do need to know where your car is. The good news is you can use the GPS function on your Metromile App, so you can locate your car even if you had to leave it to get a signal. For customers with roadside assistance support, help will come to your location and open your car for you (one of the added perks of being a Metromile customer).
If you don’t have roadside assistance, you’ll want to contact a car locksmith to help you get into your locked car. They’ll be able to open your car without causing any damage and fix any broken locks that may have led to this predicament. On top of that, a car locksmith can make you new keys if yours have been lost or broken.
The bottom line
If you’ve locked keys in car and are trying to figure out how to get into a locked car, follow these steps. Whether it’s DIY or calling a professional, there are a lot of ways to open a locked car. Just be sure to avoid potentially dangerous options like breaking the window or using tools such as slim jims as they are a bit risky nowadays as modern cars have important wires stored in these spaces. Using the options listed above, you can get into your car safely.
If you want to get the added bonus of roadside assistance and affordable car insurance, check out pay-per-mile insurance with Metromile. It’s a smarter, more affordable way to pay for coverage based on the miles you actually drive. Pay a low base rate plus per-mile, so if you drive less, you can save more. Get your free quote using Metromile.
Ralph Goodman is a security expert and lead writer for the Lock Blog, the #1 locksmith blog on the Internet. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about locks, safety and security. They offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, homeowners, locksmiths, and security professionals. Ralph has been featured widely throughout the web on sites such as Business Insider, Zillow, Bluetooth, Apartments.com, CIO and Safewise.