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A Comprehensive Guide to Car Lockout: Best Practices and Tips

Being locked out of your car is a situation that no one wants to find themselves in. It’s frustrating, inconvenient, and can even be dangerous in certain circumstances. Whether you’ve locked your keys in your car, lost them, or they’ve broken, knowing what to do in a car lockout situation is crucial. This comprehensive guide will provide the best car lockout ideas and tips to help you navigate this stressful scenario.



1. Assessing the Situation

Before you start panicking, it’s important to assess the situation. Understanding the nature of your predicament will enable you to determine the best course of action. Check all your car doors and windows to see if any of them are unlocked. If one is, you’ve solved your problem. However, if they’re all locked, you’ll need to consider other options.

For instance, if your keys are visible inside the car, you have a classic case of a car lockout. If you can’t find your keys at all, there’s a possibility that you may have lost them. In other cases, your keys might be damaged or broken, rendering them useless.

2. Prioritize Safety

Your safety should always be your first priority. If you’re in a remote location or it’s late at night, be aware of your surroundings. In high-risk scenarios, such as a child or pet being locked inside the car, don’t hesitate to dial 911. Emergency services can often unlock your car door or break the window to gain access. However, you should only resort to this in genuine emergencies, as you will be responsible for any repair costs.

car lockout 3. Reach Out for Professional Help

If you find yourself in a non-emergency car lockout situation, consider reaching out for professional help. This could be in the form of a roadside assistance service, a locksmith, or a tow truck.

Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance services like AAA, Allstate, and other similar organizations can quickly help you gain access to your locked car. Most new cars come with roadside assistance during the basic warranty period, and many insurance policies also offer this service. The response time can vary, so be prepared for a potential wait.


Another option is to hire a locksmith. These professionals have specialized tools and expertise to unlock cars without causing any damage. If you’ve lost your keys, a locksmith can also provide a car key replacement service. Some locksmiths offer 24/7 services and can reach you in remote locations. However, the cost can vary depending on the complexity of the lock and the time of the service.

Tow Truck

Alternatively, you can call a tow truck. Most towing services offer lockout service and can help you gain access to your car. This can be a more expensive option, and like with roadside assistance, you may need to wait for the truck to arrive.

4. DIY Solutions

While professional help is often the safest and most reliable option, there are some DIY solutions that you can try if you’re in a pinch. However, these should be attempted with caution, as they can potentially damage your vehicle if not done correctly.

Shoelace or String

One DIY method of unlocking your car involves using a shoelace or a piece of string. This method only works on cars with upright locks. By creating a slipknot in the middle of the shoelace and maneuvering it over the lock, you can potentially unlock the door. However, this technique requires patience and can be tricky to pull off.

Coat Hanger

The coat hanger method is a well-known DIY car lockout solution. This method involves untwisting a wire coat hanger into a hook shape and maneuvering it inside the car door to unlock the car. This method works best on older cars with manual locks.

Plastic Strip or Spatula

A thin, flexible plastic strip or a spatula can also be used to unlock a car door. The idea is to insert the strip between the door and the door frame and manipulate the lock. This method requires caution as it can damage the paintwork or the weather stripping on the door.

Air Bag Pump Wedge

An air bag pump wedge is a professional tool that can be used to create a gap between the car door and the frame. Once the gap is created, a long, thin tool can be used to unlock the car. While effective, this method can potentially damage the door frame and should be used with caution.

5. Temporary Key

A dealership might be able to provide you with a temporary key that can open the doors of your car so that you can retrieve your permanent keys. You’ll need your vehicle identification number (VIN) and proof of ownership. While this method can be time-consuming and potentially expensive, it’s a viable option if other methods fail.

6. Keyless Entry Systems

If your vehicle is equipped with a keyless entry system or a telematics system like OnStar, Blue Link, or Mbrace, you can potentially unlock your car remotely. These systems often come with free apps that allow you to unlock your car using your smartphone. However, this method is dependent on you having your smartphone on you and having a signal to access the internet.

7. Spare Key

Prevention is always better than cure. Keeping a spare key handy can save you a lot of trouble. Consider stashing a spare key in your purse, wallet, or a well-hidden spot on the car. Magnetic key holders that can be placed on the car’s underside are also available. Alternatively, you can leave a spare key with someone who can rescue you in case of a car lockout.

8. Car Lockout Services

There are professional services that specialize in car lockouts. These services have trained professionals who can unlock your car quickly and without causing any damage. They usually have a fast response time and can reach you even in remote locations. While this is a more expensive option, it can be a lifesaver in desperate situations.

9. Key Replacement

If your keys are lost or broken, getting a replacement key might be necessary. A locksmith or a dealership can provide a car key replacement. The process typically involves proving your ownership of the vehicle and providing the VIN. The cost can vary depending on the type of key and the vehicle’s make and model.

10. Prevention Measures

There are several measures you can take to prevent a car lockout. Always double-check your keys before closing the car door. Make a habit of always taking your keys with you when you leave the car. Consider getting a keychain that you can wear on your wrist or clip to your bag. Some cars also come with features that prevent the doors from locking if the keys are in the ignition.

Get Inside Your House Or Car!

Being locked out of your car can be a stressful situation, but with the right information, it’s manageable. Understanding your options and knowing when to call for professional help can make the process smoother. With these best car lockout ideas and tips, you’ll be prepared for any car lockout situation.

Remember, while DIY methods can be tempting, they can potentially cause damage to your vehicle. In most cases, calling a professional locksmith or roadside assistance service is the safest and most reliable solution.

Whether you’re dealing with a car lockout, need a car key replacement, or want advice on how to prevent lockouts, professionals are there to help. Stay safe, stay calm, and you’ll be back on the road in no time.

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