Solutions for a Garage Door Lockout: Regain Access to Your Space

Have you ever found yourself in a sticky situation, locked out of your garage with no way in? Garage door lockouts can happen when you least expect them, and they often come with a sense of frustration and helplessness. But worry not; we’ve got you covered. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best strategies to get you back into your garage swiftly, safely, and without damaging your property. So, if you’re facing a garage door lockout, read on and discover the smart ways to regain access.

Understanding the Challenge

Garages are unique structures with distinct security considerations compared to typical household doors. Whether it’s a malfunctioning garage door opener, a lost key, a broken lock, or a jammed system, each lockout situation comes with its own set of challenges. Our aim is to provide you with a variety of solutions to tackle these problems effectively.

Manual Overrides: Your First Line of Defense

Is Your Electric Opener the Culprit?

If your garage door opener has stopped working, whether due to an electrical or mechanical malfunction, it can leave you stranded outside your garage. Before we delve into more complex solutions, try these straightforward steps to regain access:

Step 1: Unlock and Release Begin by checking the garage door’s exterior for any latches, switches, or locks that might be preventing it from opening. Unlock and release them.

Step 2: Secure the Closed Position Move the garage door to the fully closed position. Ensuring it remains securely down is essential to prevent accidents or damage.

Step 3: Disconnect the Opener Before proceeding, remove the battery or unplug the garage door opener to ensure your safety.

Step 4: Locate the Emergency Release Cord Find the red-colored emergency release cord, usually hanging from the railing or track in the center of the garage.

Step 5: Activate the Emergency Release Pull the emergency release handle downward. This action disconnects the garage door opener, allowing you to manually open the door.

Step 6: Open the Garage Door Gently lift the garage door from the bottom until it reaches the top and stops moving. Ensure it stays securely locked before you proceed.

Step 7: Safely Close the Door After opening your garage, use the manual slide lock to secure and close the door until a more permanent solution is found.

Opening Side Doors: Exploring Alternative Entry Points

Apart from the main garage door, many garages have side doors, which can serve as an alternative entry point. If you find yourself locked out, here’s how to potentially open the side door:

Step 1: Check for Lock Status Start by checking if the side door is locked. Sometimes, these doors can be stuck or misaligned rather than locked.

Step 2: Utilize the Credit Card Method If the side door features a keyed handle or knob, you can attempt the credit card method to unlock it.

How to Use a Credit Card:

  • Insert the card into the gap between the door and the frame.
  • Slide the card down beside the doorknob.
  • Push the card at a 90-degree angle to the door.
  • Tilt the card towards the doorknob until it almost touches it.
  • Bend the card the opposite way, allowing it to slip under the slant-latch.
  • Continue moving the card back and forth to apply pressure and open the lock.

Note: Avoid using an essential credit card, as the process may damage the card.

Shimming: A Clever Technique for Padlock Access

In some cases, garage doors are secured with a padlock and hasp. If your padlock is susceptible to shimming, you can craft a shim from an aluminum can and follow these steps:

Creating a Shim:

  1. Cut the top and bottom off an aluminum can.
  2. Cut the remaining cylinder into a rectangle.
  3. Divide the rectangle into three equal parts.
  4. Cut one of the smaller pieces into a paper hat/tongue shape.
  5. Fold the flat part of the hat shape over to cover the sharp edge.

Shimming the Padlock:

  • Curve your shim around the outside of the shackle’s U-bend.
  • Insert the shim into the gap between the lock body and shackle.
  • Insert a second shim on the other end of the shackle if possible.
  • If the second shim doesn’t fit, try re-inserting the shims in the opposite order.
  • Turn one shim to the inside of the shackle’s U-bend.
  • The shackle will release.

This method may work if your padlock does not have advanced anti-shim security features.

Destructive Entry: A Last Resort

In situations where all else fails, and your security measures are too robust to bypass, or the lock is already damaged, you might need to resort to destructive entry. A common form of destructive entry is drilling the lock, and it should be done with caution.

How to Drill a Lock:

  1. Start with a drill bit slightly larger than the keyway.
  2. Drill into the lock core, gradually increasing the drill bit’s width.
  3. Insert a flathead screwdriver into the hole and turn the cylinder.
  4. If the latch, bolt, or shackle is jammed, this may take some effort.

Making New Keys: A Key to Reentry

If you’ve lost your garage key or it’s broken inside the lock, obtaining a new key is a viable solution. This requires professional intervention, but it’s an option to consider when you’re locked out. If you need a new garage remote to restore your automatic garage door opener’s functionality, you might want to explore this avenue as well.


Facing a garage door lockout can be a daunting experience, but with the right knowledge and tools, you can regain access to your space quickly and efficiently. We hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights into handling different lockout scenarios. However, if you find yourself in a challenging situation or need professional assistance, don’t hesitate to call a locksmith like 1st Choice Locksmith. They can provide expert guidance and services to help you overcome your garage door lockout with minimal hassle.

Remember, your security and convenience are paramount, so explore these solutions carefully and opt for the one that best suits your needs. Whether it’s manual overrides, shimming, or a locksmith’s expertise, there’s always a way to solve your garage door lockout.


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