If you’ve ever found that you’ve Locked Keys in Car, then you know how stressful this can be. So I’m going to give youthe benefit of the doubt and assume no one has ever told you to put an extra set of keys on your person, in your shoe, etc. That being the case we all know how frustrating it is when we lock our keys in our car. I have only done this once and it was enough for me to be especially cautious. I had just bought a boatload of groceries for my new apartment and out of haste I shut the door to put the cart away without thinking. I had to wait an hour for the locksmith (and with milk and other perishables in the car, it was not a pleasant experience). So here is a discussion to help you take precautions to avoid locking your keys in your car and then what to do if that ill-fated accident occurs.
Car Lock Out Prevention:
Here are a few tips to get you thinking about possible options for spare keys that are easy and affordable. They might save you from future headache:
1. Store an extra key in your trunk due to the off-chance that it is open when you lock yourself out of the car.
2. Get a magnetic key box. These are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or any local hardware store. They offer a simple version which anyone can access for about $3 or you can splurge and get a key box with a combination code for about $15. You put the key inside and stick it somewhere inconspicuous on the underside of your car. Be careful about placement, you don’t want the box to become loose and fall off at some point.
3. Give a spare key to a friend. Preferably you need to dole out a set of keys to a family member or friend nearby you so that if you ever lose your key or get locked out they have access to a key to come rescue you. It is a safe and less expensive alternative than calling your local locksmith.
4. Store a coat hanger in your car or in the trunk. Hopefully you will have access to it if you have locked yourself out of the car. If not, most places are willing to offer you one. Make sure it is a metal hanger.
There will be times when you have none of the above options available to you. In those instances there are plenty of things you can try to help avoid extra cost to you. The most important is to know about reliable locksmith companies and their services. Each car is different and will require separate attention. These days there are cars that come with digital keys that will not allow the car to be locked with the key still inside. If you happen to have an issue with that, a locksmith will be unable to help you. You will most likely have to call the dealership or manufacturer. How to find a reliable locksmith company will be detailed further on.
Locked Keys in Car
Here are a few steps you can take when you do lock your keys in your car:
1. Check all of your doors. Be absolutely sure that you have no way to access your car. I mean let’s face it, how frustrating would that be?
2. Assess your surroundings. Where are you at this moment? Are you in a populated area, small town, or the middle of nowhere? Is it day or night? There are a lot of things you can do that are within your personal power before you call a locksmith and spend some cash. If there are a lot of people around you may be lucky enough to ask for help and receive it. The average Joe sympathizes with you because we have all gone through this irritating process at least once or twice. You can also assess your safety by evaluating your circumstances. Are you in danger? Is there bad weather?
3. Call the police*. This option has an asterisk by its side. Most police will actually not come to your rescue if you have locked your keys in your car unless there is a child inside. You might be able to convince them if there is a pet in there somewhere. If you can see a policeman from where you stand they might offer to help you because they see your distress and have nothing better to do. However I heard from a policeman himself once that it is illegal for policeman to help you unlock your car from the outside because it is technically breaking the law: they are breaking into your car. It sounds silly, but for all intents and purposes, be aware that the police may not be willing to help you if your car is just full of groceries.
4. Ask a guard. If you are in a place like Wal-mart, they will most likely have a guard or two at the store. They’re like unofficial policemen that ensure the safety of the shoppers. You might be able to swing a free service by being especially thankful and gracious. They usually have the tools on hand to perform the task for you.
5. Call roadside assistance. If you have no immediate help from a stranger, policeman, or guard, and you have Triple A, then use it! You may have to wait a bit, but at least it’s free.
6. Use your hanger. If you have a hanger, and it is available to you, break that thing out. When I called the locksmith he did something very simple: he took two wooden wedges and stuck them in between the bottom of my window and the rubber molding. He then slipped a slim jim in the space and pulled up on my lock. Voila! I was certainly happy I had access to my car once again, but I was disappointed that it had been so easy. So go ahead and take your hanger and bend it so that you have an S shape that is long. Slip the hanger in between your glass and rubber molding of the window with the S shape being on its side. The loop of the S has to be able to catch your door lock or be able to hit down on an unlock button. Once it is in you can decide which of those two options are your best bet. You can slide the hanger through the top of the window as well as
long as you can get it open (safely) an inch. My car has lock buttons that curve so I can easily pull up on them. Some car locks are smooth and have no way of being pulled. So there you have it, the most inexpensive locksmith trick in the book.
7. Go through your trunk. If your trunk is open while your keys are locked in your car, use that to your advantage. You can usually shift the rear seats around, pull them back, or shove them forward, and you will have access. It’s a physically taxing process, but at least you will not have to pay a locksmith.
8. Pick the lock. If you have an older car this might be a good option. Spray a lubricant on the keyhole and use an unbent safety pin or paper click to move around until you hear the telling “click” of the door unlocking. If you have a newer car don’t even attempt this. Your car will have a sensor that will not allow access. You could also seriously damage the keyhole.
If any of those above options are not helpful or even apply to you, your last resort is calling a locksmith. It may seem simple, especially if you have a smart phone. However this should technically be added to the first list of things to do before this event occurs. Choosing a locksmith carefully can actually save you money and time. Follow these tips to be an informed consumer:
1. Get suggestions from your insurance company. Either your insurance or your roadside assistance will have a list of pre-approved locksmith companies to help you in times of crisis. These will often be good choices because they are reliable and represented for.
2. Search for feedback. If you have no reliable source to draw from you can check out sites like Angie’s List and see what customers have to say about the service of a certain locksmith company. Implore to your friends and neighbors because chances are they have gone through a similar experience. They might be able to recommend you to a reliable locksmith.
3. Compare local locksmiths. After finding a few reputable companies make sure you compare their pricing and hours. Many locksmiths will be open 24 hours but some cut it off after midnight. Find out how big the company is and if they shoot the price up after hours. You may find that some companies are better called during the day while others should be called at night to save you some cash. The more local companies the more competition there will be. Specifically check to see how big their company is and how many cars they have dispatched at one time. If you go for local it may just be some guy in his truck driving around until he gets some business or he might be so busy that if you are on the end of the list it will take a long time to get any help.
4. Keep locksmith info on your person. This may not help if you have your purse or wallet locked in the car, but if you don’t, then you have the information with you. Keep a list of
names and numbers so you can call and see which company will offer the fastest service for the cheapest price at your time of need.
So now when you exclaim, “I locked my keys in my car!” you will be happy to know that you have lots of options. As you can expect, the pre-planning is advantageous if you can find the time to do it. Adding a few extra fail-safes and properly observing your surroundings can save you a lot of time and hassle. It may seem like a lot of work, but at the time of your frustrating crisis, it will be a lifesaver.