I'm Locked Out Of My Car: What Do I Do?

It's a terrible feeling when you realize you've locked your keys in the car.

Remain calm. It's crucial to slow down and take a deep breath. The problem may not be as big as it seems. You'll first want to consider — "Am I actually locked out of my car?"

Make Sure You Can't Get In

There are a few quick things you can do to make sure you really have a problem. First, check every door to make sure it's firmly locked. Sometimes, the tiny mechanical pieces inside a door lock don't close all the way. If you have an older vehicle, this is especially likely. Don't forget to check the trunk or hatchback. While it's not ideal to crawl headfirst into your car to retrieve your keys, it beats calling a tow truck.

If all of your car's doors are locked, check the sunroof. Is it closed? If so, look at the windows. Are any of them open a bit? Even a small space could provide enough room to reach in with a thin metal rod, coat hanger, or another object to unlock one of the doors.

But please take note — unless you understand the inner workings of your car's door lock mechanisms, avoid shoving a slim jim or another metal object between the window and the window seal to trip the lock. Modern cars don't work the same as older vehicles, and you could add an expensive repair bill to your problem.

Solving the Problem

Once you've confirmed that, yes — I've locked myself out of my car — you'll probably have to call for help.

If you have a new car with Onstar activated, call the customer service number and ask for help. They may be able to remotely unlock your car for you. No Onstar? Think about whether you have roadside assistance. If your car is newer, roadside assistance may be part of the warranty package from the dealership. Contact the dealership's service department to get contact information.

Check your wallet for a AAA membership card, insurance card, or credit card. If you have AAA coverage, you can get help with a flat tire, dead battery, or fuel delivery if you run out of gas. Even the most basic AAA coverage will help you with vehicle lock-out service up to $50. Call the phone number on the card and let the customer service rep know what's going on. 

You may have free roadside assistance for lockouts through a major credit card. You can find out by calling the 800 number on the back of your card. Some car insurance policies also provide roadside assistance. There may be information about the service on your insurance card.

Finally, if you've recently signed up for our driver's ed course, you may qualify for a free month of roadside assistance. With this coverage, you can get back on the road in no time.

Take Precautions

After you've solved the problem and retrieved your keys, think about how to prevent it from happening again. 

"The best way to avoid locking your keys in your car is to keep an extra set of keys either with you or with a loved one who is easy to contact," said Ramon Russe, Director at Enjuku Racing. "You can also keep a spare key securely attached in a discreet location on your vehicle. If you do lock your keys in your vehicle, you can use thin plastic wedges and a thin, sturdy wire to attempt to wedge the door open and access the locking button or door handle."

Having extra keys is part of basic car maintenance, so if you don't already have more than one set of keys, have one made right away. If you've locked your keys in the car, calmly review your options. Chances are, things aren't as terrible as they seem at first. 

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