10 things to try if your car is locked with the key inside

10 things to try if your car is locked with the key inside

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably encountered a situation where you lock your keys in the car, realizing too late. Maybe you leave the keys sitting on the drivers seat in the car or you simply misplace them. There’s nothing more stressful and frustrating to say the least, especially when you can see the car keys within the car, but cannot get them. Luckily It doesn’t have to cause so much drama. There are a number of work arounds you can try before calling a locksmith.

Not everyone has the benefits of roadside assistance. If that sounds like you, how do you get inside a locked car? What are the easiest DIY methods to unlock the car door? How to avoid getting into this mess in the first place?

However, for obvious reasons be aware the sight of you attempting to gain access to your locked car may appear to someone else, like theft. Be prepared to answer some questions and even prove ownership of the car if need be.

Here we have listed a few ways to get back inside your car when you’ve locked the keys inside, and avoid this happening again in the future. Whatever you do, do not break a window of your vehicle because then you’ll be up for additional repair costs.



Our helpful solutions for a locked car door

If you’re ever locked keys in the car, don’t panic. There are always solutions to get you back inside your car. First and foremost, check to see if you or someone else has a spare key for the car. This is the easiest solution that people so often overlook. If you need to progress down the path of DIY solutions, we have a summary of the best options to get your car door open. Always attempt any DIY entry to a locked car from a point where the windows are open the most.

There is however, no best tool for the job. Some solutions will work better with your type of door locks than others. Many of these DIY methods require the manual lock system seen in older cars. Those with an unlock button or horizontal locks you can push or pull. Modern cars with an electronic locking mechanism are generally much harder to find a work around for. If all else fails, you will need the professional help of a local locksmith, you should be able to find one with a mobile service that can come to your location and get your car door open. Read on to see if there’s method listed that will work for your situation.



1. The simplest solution – find the spare key

  • A car key is a surprisingly easy item to lose track of. Having a spare is always recommended and you’ll then be prepared for any potential lockout situations. The first thing you should do when you’ve locked your keys in the car is check if you have a spare key. Naturally, you might actually forget you have a spare key in the heat of the moment. If you do have a spare, then great, problem solved! If you don’t have a spare, then read on for some more tips.

2. Go hi-tech and use an unlocking app

  • Car unlocking apps are becoming increasingly popular, and it’s easy to see why. They offer a convenient way to unlock your car without the risk of a DIY method or calling a locksmith. But what exactly do these apps do? And how do they work?

Unfortunately, mobile phone signals cannot be transmitted to your car through remote keyless entry systems, which operate at a much lower frequency than mobile phones. Most car unlocking apps work in one of two ways. Either they use your phone’s Bluetooth connection to automatically unlock your car when you get close to it, or they provide you with a digital key that you can use to unlock your car manually. Some apps also offer additional features, such as the ability to remotely start your vehicle or check its fuel level.

Many new vehicles can be connected to a variety of different smartphone apps that will electronically unlock your doors in the event of an emergency. Several car models have their own apps on Apple iOS or Android, which you can download and use to unlock your car.

While car unlocking apps can be extremely useful, it’s important to make sure that you choose a reputable app from a trustworthy developer. After all, you’re trusting the app with access to your car, so you want to make sure that it won’t put your car at risk. Make sure to do your research before downloading any car unlocking app, and only download apps from reputable sources.

3. Old school methods – The coat hanger method

  • If you don’t have a spare key, then you can try using a wire hanger to open the door. This is probably the most well-known method of unlocking a car door without a key, you may have even seen this in a few movies. To start, simply bend one end of the coat hanger into a small hook, making sure that it is sturdy enough to grip onto the lock mechanism inside the door. Then, insert the bent end through the weather stripping between the window and the door frame. You should be able to see the coat hanger once it’s inside and this will help you to manipulate it into the right place. It’ll take a bit of focus and a steady hand, but you should be able to catch the end of the coat hanger on the lock to unlock it. If it all goes to plan, you should be able to unlock your car with ease. There is also another similar method, although this one uses a shoelace, and it’s a little more tricky.

4. The shoelace method

  • Everyone knows the wire coat hanger trick, but did you know that you can sometimes use a shoelace or a thin cord to unlock your car? Sometimes you have to be creative with the items you have at your disposal. Simply take a shoelace or decent portion of quality cord. Tie a small loop in the end of the shoelace and insert it into the space between the door and the window. Using a back and forth motion manipulate the shoelace until you have the loop over the lock. With a little tugging and gentle manipulation you can carefully maneuver the slip knot over the locking mechanism to pop the lock up and unlock the door. Then, loosen the shoelace and pull it out. This trick is often more popular than the wire coat hanger because string or a shoelace can be easier to come by if you’re not at home. Eventually, with a little persistence you should be able to get the car door lock open. So next time you’re in a bind, remember this little tip.

5. The screwdriver method

  • A note of warning, using a metal object in this way is highly likely to cause damage to your door frame. Using a skinny rod or the screwdriver as a pry tool, slide it through the seal in the door frame and gently wedge it open a little. Once the door is wedged open just enough you can use a metal rod or something with the right length and dexterity to push the unlock button to then open your car. It’s a sure fire solution, but you really do need a solid grip and you have to be careful this doesn’t damage the car door or the locks.

6. No holds barred – The tennis ball method

  • This may just be the genius trick you never thought would work. Essentially the idea is quite simple. Start by burning or cutting a small hole in the tennis ball. Then place the ball over the keyhole and apply fast, hard pressure. The theory is, the air pressure inside the tennis ball will forced out through the hole causing the locking mechanism to unlock. In reality this will not work in newer cars with more advanced locking mechanisms, but give it a go if you have an older car.




Locksmith tools at your disposal

Maybe you already have some professional locksmith tools at home or you fancy giving it a go with proper tools, but minus the experts.
Here’s some suggested tools you can purchase easily from a hardware store.




7. An inflatable wedge

  • An air pump wedge is a handy tool for anyone who might experience an auto lockout. Similar to the screwdriver, but a lot more gentle on the car, this versatile door jamb helps to create a small opening in the window of a locked vehicle. The air pump wedge is made up of two main components: the air pump itself, which uses pressure to gently lift and slide the glass, and the wedge itself, which creates a tight seal at the edge of the window aperture to prevent leakage. The size of the opening created by an air pump wedge will depend on how much pressure is applied, but you can always create enough of a gap to get the door unlocked. So if you ever find yourself locked out of your car an inflatable wedge is inexpensive and easy to use. Be sure to keep an air pump wedge handy for emergencies.

8. Slim Jim to the rescue

  • A slim jim is a type of tool that is commonly used by locksmiths and tow truck drivers to open locked car doors. The slim jim consists of a long, thin piece of metal with a hook on one end. The hook is inserted into the space between the door and the frame, and then the tool is leveraged to unlock the door. While a slim jim can be an effective way to open a locked car door, it is important to use the tool correctly in order to avoid damaging the car, otherwise you’ll find yourself making a visit to the body shop. When using a slim jim, always gently pull towards the hinge side of the door in order to avoid breaking the window or damaging the door panel. With a little practice, opening a car door with a slim jim can be quick and easy.

9. A lock picking tool

  • If none of the other methods work and you need to get back into your car fast, then it might be worth investing in a good car lock pick set. These tools are designed specifically for picking locks and can make the process much easier and faster. Just be sure to choose a high-quality set so that you don’t end up damaging your car door or lock.

Another trick that work in a similar way is using a bobby pin to the same effect as lock picks. To do this, simply straighten out a few spare bobby pins and insert them into the lock. Once they’re in, try to turn and wiggle them until the door opens.




10. Call the professionals – a locksmith

If you don’t have roadside assistance and you’ve had a go at a few of the above mentioned options then it could be time to call in the professionals. While it may be tempting to break a window or get more forceful with the door, this will only cause more costly damage to your vehicle. The best course of action is to call a locksmith to open your car. You won’t have to wait long for a professional locksmith, as many offer mobile emergency services that come direct to where you’re located. They’ll have the tools and expertise to get you back into your car quickly, and without damaging the door lock or window seals.

    • Get a spare set of keys made

In addition, a locksmith can also make you a new key if you have lost your original. Calling a locksmith will not only ensure you gain access to your car fast and without causing damage, but they can also make you a replacement key on the spot.



How to avoid this in future

To avoid getting locked out of your vehicle in the first place, there are a few precautionary measures you can take. People employ many different strategies to avoid misplacing belongings, but the most effective one is to create a designated spot in your home where you can always find these things. Additionally, it’s important to stay organized by minimizing the clutter in your physical space, both at home and at work.

First, always make sure you have your car keys with you when you get out of the car. Second, have a specific location in your home where you place your keys. So you’re less likely to place them in different places and subsequently forget where you put them. Finally, consider keeping a spare set of keys hidden somewhere on your property or with a friend, neighbor or family member in case of emergencies. Taking these simple steps will help to ensure that you never find yourself locked out of your car.

Now you have these genius tricks up your sleeve

With these tips in mind, you can avoid the stress and hassle of misplacing important items and stay focused on what really matters. If you ever find you’ve locked keys inside your car or misplaced them, remember these tips! You don’t need emergency roadside assistance, with a little creativity and some persistence, you should be able to get back inside quickly and easily. Good luck!​