Imagine a day that was going perfectly until you reached your car and realized you’ve locked your keys inside. That sinking feeling in your stomach can be quite disheartening. But all hope is not lost. While you might miss your next appointment, there are steps you can take to get your keys out of your locked vehicle safely and efficiently.
Preventing Lockouts: Tips to Keep in Mind
1. Carry a Duplicate Key or Valet Key: Consider keeping a spare key in your wallet or purse. It can be a real lifesaver when your primary key is locked inside the car. You could also hide a spare key on your vehicle, securely fastened with a bolt and wingnut in an inconspicuous location. Entrusting a spare key to a trusted friend or family member is another smart move.
2. Explore Vehicle Services like OnStar: Equipping your car with a service like OnStar can be a game-changer. If you accidentally lock your keys inside the car and have an active account, you can remotely unlock the doors. It’s a hassle-free solution worth considering.
3. Memorize Your Keyless Entry Keypad Code: If your vehicle is equipped with a keyless entry keypad, make sure you remember the code. Overreliance on remote key fobs can lead to forgetting alternative entry methods. Memorizing your keypad code ensures you have a backup option.
What to Avoid During an Automotive Lockout Emergency
1. Forceful Door Prying: Trying to pry your car door open with tools like crowbars is not recommended. Car door latches are designed to withstand considerable force, and attempting to pry them open can result in damage to your vehicle, not to mention suspicion of theft.
2. Slim Jims and Coat Hangers: These old-school methods are no longer effective on modern vehicles equipped with anti-theft mechanisms. Trying to use these tools may cause more harm than good.
Your Action Plan: Regaining Access to Your Vehicle
If you do find yourself locked out of your car, here’s what you can do:
1. Pry Open the Door (with Caution)
While forcefully opening the entire door is a no-go, you can create a small gap at the top (between the door and the roof) using a plastic wedge or an inflatable wedge. Gently insert the wedge to avoid damage and use a towel for protection. This gap will provide access to the car’s interior.
2. Pull the Lock Button
Check if your car’s lock button is within reach through the gap you created with the wedge. If so, use a stiff rod, coat hanger, or string with a noose to pull up on the button. This method works when the lock button protrudes from the door trim.
3. Trip the Lock Switch
If the lock button is out of reach, look for the “unlock” switch. Arrange your wedge(s) to enable access and use a sturdy metal rod to press the switch. Experiment with different angles and bends on the rod until you engage the switch.
4. Snag the Keys
As a last resort, if other methods fail, create a larger gap to fish for the keyring with a longer metal rod. This method might work depending on the key’s location.
Remember, patience and caution are essential when attempting these methods. In emergency situations, like a child or pet being trapped in a hot or cold car, call 911 for immediate assistance. Otherwise, consider enlisting the help of a professional locksmith or your roadside assistance provider.
While prevention is always the best strategy, having a plan in case you lock your keys in your car can save you time and frustration. With the right tools and approach, you can safely retrieve your keys and avoid the “I-told-you-sos.”
In conclusion, finding yourself locked out of your car can be a stressful situation, but with foresight and the right approach, it’s a challenge that can be overcome. By taking preventive measures, like carrying spare keys and being familiar with your vehicle’s security features, and knowing how to use the right tools and techniques when locked out, you can navigate this inconvenience with confidence and minimize disruptions to your day. Remember, patience and caution are your allies, and in emergencies, always prioritize safety and seek professional assistance when needed.