It’s the worst-case scenario: you’ve returned to your car after an outing to find yourself locked out. Maybe the key is lying unhelpfully on the driver’s seat, or maybe you’ve lost it at some point during your errand. Whatever the case, it can be hard to fight the rising panic—especially if you have somewhere you need to be.
Being locked out of a car doesn’t have to be a nightmare, however, as long as you know what steps to take if the worst should happen. If this situation sounds familiar, take a few deep breaths and read on to learn what to do.
Make Sure You’re Really Locked Out
Before the panic sets in, do some troubleshooting to see whether or not you are, in fact, locked out. Check all of the doors, the sunroof, and the trunk, and rifle through your bag and pockets to see whether you come up with the missing key.
Call a Remote Service
If you have a service like Onstar activated for your car, you may be in luck: an expert might be able to remotely unlock your car for you.
Alternatively, if you pay for a membership with a roadside assistance service like AAA, you can call them for vehicle lock-out services. With newer cars, some dealerships include this membership as part of your warranty package. In addition, some major credit cards offer roadside assistance policies, though you’ll need to call the number on the back of your card for details.
Try to Solve the Problem Yourself
If you’re out of luck when it comes to roadside assistance, there are a few steps to take to get back into your car.
First, if you have a friend, roommate, or partner with a spare key, get in touch with them to get your car open.
If not, you might be tempted to try solving the problem yourself. The most common ways of doing this include using a tool like a coat hanger, pulling post locks upward with a shoelace, or jimmying the locks with a long-reach tool.
However, these tricks can have expensive consequences if things go wrong, as you can damage your vehicle’s window or door in the attempt. As a result, it’s often wiser to leave the task to a professional.
Contact an Expert
In most cases, hiring a locksmith may be your best bet. An automotive locksmith can help you get back into your car fast and without causing harm—not to mention the fact that they can create a key replacement if your key is missing or broken!
Keep From Losing Your Keys
Once you’ve got your car back, take steps to prevent a lockout from happening again. If you have a habit of losing your keys, you might want to consider using a retractable key holder, for example, or alternate methods of tracking your keys. Don’t forget to also leave a spare with someone you trust!
Know What to Do When You’re Locked Out of a Car
Though none of us want to imagine this situation, it’s important to plan the steps you would take if you’re ever locked out of a car. Having the contact information for your local locksmith can offer great peace of mind, for example, as can taking out a roadside assistance policy. With a little preparation, you can feel much safer on the road!
Looking for more of the automotive tips and tricks you need? Check out our other helpful guides for additional insights.