Preparation & Planning
If you have never locked your keys in your car you are in the minority, however chances are that at some time you will do so. With a little planning you can save yourself a great deal of frustration, time and money.
Get a spare key made: Go to the nearest hardware store and have them make you a spare or two. For less than $10.00, you have real peace of mind.
Keep your spare key in a secure location: The best way to get into your vehicle if your key is locked inside is to have a spare key somewhere on your person or in a magnetic box along a metal surface under your car. These are available in different sizes and can be purchased for under $10.00. Give one spare key to a trusted family member or friend.
Electronic Door openers. Fortunately, many new vehicles come with electronic door openers or “digital keys” that don’t allow you to lock the doors with the keys in the vehicle
Confirm that all doors of your car are locked. More than one person has broken in through the driver’s side door to retrieve keys locked inside, only to find another door unlocked.
Emergency Release. If your trunk is open, look for a release tab on the wall of the trunk closest to the passenger seats. Many recent cars have an emergency release that will fold the seat down and let you crawl through into your car’s passenger area.
Auto dealers. Have a friend drive you to a dealership that sells the same make as your car. You will need to provide them with the VIN number (visible near the front right windshield wiper so you don’t have to be in the car to get it) and proof of ownership and they will cut you a new key for much less than a locksmith.
Roadside Assistance. Membership in AAA or roadside assistance packages with your insurance or car loan can make this a free, professional service. On Star and many car manufacturers such as BMW have services that you can call and they can electronically unlock your car.
Police. You can call the police and ask them to unlock your car. They usually have tools (like a Slim Jim) and will eventually come to your assistance. Even though it may take a while for them to arrive at your location (unless you have a child in the car), the best thing about this option is that it’s free. However, some police departments will not unlock your vehicle for liability reasons.
Coat Hanger Or Lasso. If you drive an older car, namely one that is not operated by a sensor key, an option for retrieving locked keys in a car is to use a lasso tool or a wire coat hanger. You can create your own lasso tool by tying a piece of string securely into a loop around the end of a thin piece of metal or wood. Make sure the piece of metal or wood is thin enough to fit between the top of the side door window and the car door frame. If using a coat hanger, straighten the wire and bend its hooked end into a circular shape, similar to a lasso. Next, slide the tool between the window and door frame and lower the lassoed end around the flat part of the door’s unlocking mechanism, then pull up.
Slim Jim. Some companies equip security personnel with Slim Jims, so locating a willing security officer might be a more viable option than involving the police or having to pay a locksmith. A Slim Jim is a slender metallic tool that resembles a large knife and is designed to unlock a car door by accessing the lock mechanism located inside the car door. If you have a Slim Jim, slide the device between the narrow slit between the door glass and car door, then slide the tool down into the door. Once you’ve located the lock mechanism, twist the Slim Jim until it wraps around the wire, and then pull up. Since they are a specialized tool, Slim Jims are hard to come by and are primarily used by locksmiths and law enforcement personnel.
Locksmith. If your emergency road assistance does not offer locked car assistance, ask them to send a local locksmith. The good news is that each car key is coded by the auto manufacturer, and if you have the key code number and personal identification, a locksmith can make you a new key. Store the key code number on your cell phone, so it is available immediately, and leave it where someone at home can read it to you in an emergency.
Call a Tow Truck: As a last resort, although somewhat expensive at least you’ll know help is on the way.
We certainly hope that these tips are helpful. At Davis Body Shop, we are ready to discuss any car-related topic with you! Drop by or simply ring us…. Our numbers are: Atascadero (805) 466-2446 or Paso Robles (805) 239-8752.