locked keys in car

Locked Keys in Car? Here’s What to Do

It’s happened to all of us at one point or another: the moment of panic when you lose your car key, followed by the dreaded realization that you know exactly where it is — in your locked car.

And this screw-up isn’t just time-consuming; it’s also expensive. The average minimum service fee for a locksmith was between $75 and $150 in 2019, according to Thumbtack.

Before you frantically Google “locked keys in car,” run through this list.

How to Solve the “Locked Keys in Car” Dilemma

Panicking is the worst thing you can do in this situation, resulting in a broken window, a damaged paint job, or even a malfunctioning car door. If the key is out of sight, your car probably won’t get stolen. But if the key is in plain sight, it’s best not to leave the vehicle unattended until you can get help.

Know Where the Spare Key Is

Maybe you’re borrowing a relative’s car. If they’re nearby, they might be gracious enough to bring you the spare, but be courteous if they’re at work or in school.

In a perfect world, we would all keep a spare car key in our purses or backpacks. But what happens if you lock that in the car, too?

Do yourself a favor and get a copy of your key made ahead of time. To ensure you don’t lose it, invest a couple of bucks into a magnetic key holder that you can keep under the bumper or somewhere else out of view from potential car thieves.

Know When to Use the Key Fob

If your car has electronic locks, you’re in luck: most key fobs won’t let you lock the door if the key is still in the car. But if you lose the gadget, it can be expensive to replace, sometimes costing hundreds of dollars.

Let’s say you lose the key fob but you still have the key itself. Now you can unlock the doors, but the ignition probably won’t start without the part, so you’ll still need to consult a dealer to get it replaced.

Hint: Some cars have a switch to override this feature, but you’ll need to read the owners manual to know where it is.

Try to Unlock it

There’s one thing you should know before proceeding with this step: If your locks are located in the interior door handles, you’re out of luck and you should just read on. So far, there are no known ways to work around this issue. But if you trust your mechanical skills, you’re welcome to give it a try anyway.

The classic wire coathanger trick only works if you have lock buttons on the window ledge. Simply straighten the hanger and bend the end into a little hook. Then insert the hanger between the door’s rubber molding and side window, hook it around the lock button, and pull up.

Then there’s the rod-and-screwdriver trick, but if you don’t have a screwdriver, a doorstop works just as well. Insert the screwdriver (or doorstop) into the top of the car door, then use a metal rod to push the locking mechanism down.

If the trunk of your car happens to be open when you lock the keys inside, you may be able to move the rear seat out of the way to gain access to the car. But be sure you know how to do this beforehand to avoid any damages to your seats.

Hint: You can invest in an inflatable wedge so you don’t damage the paint job when trying to unlock your car. You might also get a “slim jim” lock-picking tool, or a lock-picking set — both of which should run you about $20 at an auto store.

Check if You Have Roadside Assistance

If it’s not offered by your insurance provider, it might be covered by your vehicle’s warranty program, your credit card, or your auto club membership. Save yourself some time by putting this information in your phone before you get locked out, that way it’s easier to access in an emergency.

Call AAA

Members can get roadside assistance in 30 minutes. But if you’re not a member, don’t worry; you can sign-up over the phone for $59 a year and get assistance the same day.

Call the Local Police or Security

But don’t dial 911, as vehicle lockouts aren’t high-priority calls. However, if you feel your lockout is putting you in a potentially threatening or unsafe situation, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you’re at a school or on another public property, the campus police or security might have a lock-picking kit, but it’s not guaranteed. This is another question to ask before you find yourself locked out.

Call the Dealer

If your car dealership is nearby, they should have an emergency key that will unlock the doors and trunk. However, it won’t start the ignition, so if you lost your key somewhere outside of the car, your dealer probably won’t be able to help you much.

Additionally, the dealer will need proof of ownership before they can proceed — meaning that if you’re driving a borrowed car, they probably can’t help you, either.

Call a Locksmith

Before calling the locksmith, you should have your personal identification, as well as the vehicle’s ID number. To find this, look on the panel above the steering wheel. If it’s not there, it’s probably inside the door panel, which won’t be of much use if you’re locked out. It can also be found in your insurance policy.

The locksmith will also need to know the code for your key to ensure that it’s as close to the original as possible. If you have a worn key, there’s a slim chance that a copy of it might not work.

Trust the Professionals

Locked keys in the car don’t have to be a pain to fix. If you’re crunched for time or don’t have the right supplies to pick the lock, leave it to us.

Denver Locksmith is family-owned and accredited by the Better Businesses Bureau. Not convinced? Let the five-star ratings speak for themselves.

Call us today to get an estimate.

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