Nobody ever plans to be locked out of their car, but the unfortunate truth is that most of us will find ourselves in this tricky situation at some point. No matter how careful you may be, the spare could be left at the house or the holder is indisposed. Now you’re left to your own devices, but with some common items and a little patience, anyone can unlock their car door and retrieve forgotten keys.
Remember, the easiest way to prepare for locking yourself out is to keep a spare on your person, or in a special magnetic compartment somewhere on the vehicle. If you find yourself frequently locked out, this is especially true. Some insurances also offer lockout services. Follow these simple methods if you ever find yourself on the wrong side of a locked car door:
1. Pull Tab in the Trunk
This method only works if you can access your trunk. Open your trunk and look along the top and corners for a strap connected to your backseat. This tab is usually used to make more space in your car and when pulled will collapse the seats.
Once the backseat is flattened, you can crawl through the space to reach the inside of the car, and hopefully your keys.
2. Automotive Window Wedge
No access trunk access? No problem. Using an automotive window wedge kit will give you access to the control panel or locks of your vehicle in less than 2 minutes. They’re inexpensive pieces of plastic or rubber which create enough space between the window and the car for you to work.
Wedge kits come in two or three parts: the flexible wedge, an inflatable cushion to maximize the wedge, and a rod or similar tool for manipulation. Start by slipping the wedge in the upper right corner, between door frame and the car. Don’t force the wedge in further than it needs to be, and use the inflatable bag if you need more space. If you don’t have a kit, any wedge will do but make sure it’s of a soft material like wood or plastic to minimize damage.
Once space is made between the door and the car, slip the rod in to manipulate buttons on the control panel or pull open the lock.
3. Call a Locksmith
So the trunk is locked and you don’t have a wedge kit. Don’t despair! While it’s not the least expensive method on the list, calling a locksmith is the most effective and cheaper than calling a tow truck. Car locksmiths perform many services, including remote and manual car door unlocking, key replacement and ignition services.
As mentioned earlier, some insurance companies offer services for lockouts, and will send a locksmith to you so be sure to call them first. Dealerships also sometimes offer similar services. If not, it’s usually easy to find a locksmith on call.
If there’s no getting in the trunk, no wedge and no locksmith, you can always try using your shoelace. This method is only really useful for older model cars with locks that can be raised or lowered, but it’s pretty effective.
Take your shoelace and make a slipknot in the center by wrapping the string around your middle and forefinger, pinching a closure and making sure the right half of the string lays under the left. Take the right half of the string as close to the pinch as possible and push it through the loop created by your fingers. Tighten the first loop around the second, and you have a knot which will tighten if either of the ends are pulled.
Once you have a knot, use the right corner of the door to thread your shoelace and work it to the inside of the car. Lower the knot over the lock before tightening the loop, securing the lock. Gently lift the laces up along the door frame once the knot is secured, and with patience you should be able to unlock the door.
Cars get safer every year and sometimes it can be difficult or dangerous to try to open a locked car door. Some cars require a key to open regardless, or else safety features become activated. If you’re in doubt, don’t hesitate to call a professional automotive locksmith to help in a lockout situation.