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What To Do If You Lock Your Keys In Your Car

The Nightmare of Locking Your Keys in The Car – And How to Get Back on The Road Quickly

It’s a scenario we’ve all experienced – you park your car, hop out to run a quick errand, and as you hear the door slam shut, you suddenly realize your keys are still inside. In an instant, your day goes from bad to worse as you realize you’re now stranded outside your locked vehicle.

According to roadside assistance companies, this frustrating event happens to drivers nearly 1.5 million times a year across the US. But while locking your keys in the car can certainly ruin your day, it doesn’t have to completely stop you in your tracks if you follow the right steps.

In this article, we’ll outline the smart solutions that can get your car unlocked quickly, have you back on the road in no time, and prevent this dreaded incident.


First Steps to Try

Once you realize the keys are trapped inside, staying calm is key. Panicking will only delay solving the problem. Start by quickly checking these options:

  • Is a window cracked open or the trunk unlocked? If you can access any part of the car’s interior, you may be able to retrieve the keys. Just reach in carefully.
  • Do you hide a spare key on the car’s exterior? Many models have lockboxes affixed to the frame holding spares. Check above the tires, inside the grille, or under the bumper.
  • Can an OnStar or other auto service unlock it remotely? If you subscribe to services like OnStar, call them to unlock the car via signal. This is the fastest and easiest solution if available.


Calling a Locksmith

If the car is completely locked up tight, your best bet is to call for professional help. An experienced mobile locksmith has the right tools and expertise to swiftly unlock your car without any damage.

Locksmiths are trained to unlock modern vehicle locking mechanisms quickly. They can create or copy replacement keys on the spot if yours are lost or damaged. Most reputable locksmiths offer 24/7 emergency service and average 30-minute or less response time. This makes them the preferred solution for most drivers locked out of their cars.

When calling a locksmith, be wary of scammers. Look for licensed locksmiths in your area and only call a number associated with a legitimate local business. Confirm pricing upfront to avoid surprise fees. Locksmith costs typically range from $50-$100 depending on your location and the specific service needed.


Using Lockout Kits

For those comfortable using manual unlocking tools, a lockout kit is a cost-effective emergency option. Sold at many auto parts stores, these kits contain long, slim metal wedges often called “slim jims” that can be slid down between the car window and door frame to manipulate the locking mechanism. With some skill, they can pop the lock open.

The catch is that lockout wedges can be challenging for beginners to use correctly. Cheaply-made kits may fail to open modern vehicle locks. You’ll also need to confirm the legality of using lockout tools in your state. When used properly on the right car make and model, lockout kits offer an affordable, convenient emergency unlocking solution.


Preventing Lockouts in The Future

While no driver wants to think about locking their keys in the car, simple preventative steps can help avoid this hassle down the road:

  • Always double-check doors and take keys before exiting the car. Make this a habit.
  • Have spare keys made and give one to a trusted friend or family member.
  • Hide a spare car key on the exterior of your vehicle in a lockbox.
  • Sign up for an auto-unlock service like OnStar in case of an emergency.
  • Keep a lockout kit in your trunk in case of mistakes.

By following these tips, a little foresight and preparation can go a long way in preventing the nightmare of locking your keys in the car. Stay calm, focus on solutions, and you’ll be back on the road again in no time.


Frequently Asked Questions About Locking Your Keys In The Car

Locking your keys inside your vehicle can happen in an instant and leave you stranded. Here we answer some of the most common questions about retrieving keys locked in the car and avoiding this nightmare scenario.

What should I do first if I lock my keys in the car?

First, try to access the interior through an open window or unlocked trunk. Also, check for lockboxes on the exterior holding a spare key.

How long does it take for a locksmith to unlock a car?

Most professional locksmiths can unlock your car and make replacement keys within 30 minutes or less.

Are lockout kits legal to purchase and use?

You’ll need to check local laws, but most states allow owning lockout kits. Using them requires skill and care to avoid damage.

Can I unlock my car remotely with services like OnStar?

Yes, if your vehicle has remote unlock capabilities through services you subscribe to like OnStar, call them to unlock via a signal.

How much does it cost to have a locksmith unlock your car?

Locksmith unlocking services typically range from $50-$100, depending on your location and the specific service. Confirm pricing upfront.

Where is the best place to hide a spare key in my car?

Common spots are above the tires, inside the front grille, under the bumper, or in magnetic lock boxes attached to the vehicle’s frame.

What items are in a lockout kit?

Lockout kits contain slim metal wedges (“slim jims”) and instruction guides to slide down and manipulate the door lock mechanism open.

How can I avoid locking my keys in the car?

Always check for keys before closing doors, make spare keys, attach a lockbox spare exterior, and subscribe to auto unlock services as a backup.

Having a plan and information can make the nightmare of locking keys in the car a minor hiccup! Let us know if you have any other key lockout questions.

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