Getting locked out of a car is a common issue that many drivers face at some point in their lives. It can happen for various reasons, such as losing keys, locking them inside the vehicle, or experiencing a malfunction with the key or lock.
Assessing the Situation
Before attempting to resolve a car lockout, it’s essential to assess the situation and determine the cause of the problem. This will help you identify the most effective solutions and available resources. Take a moment to ask yourself:
- What is the reason for the lockout?
- Are there any tools or materials nearby that could help unlock the car?
- Is professional assistance required or can the issue be resolved using a DIY solution?
Common Causes and Solutions for Car Lockouts
- Lost, stolen, or misplaced keys
Losing car keys is a frequent cause of lockouts. In this case, the best solution is to have a spare key available. If you don’t have a spare, consider calling a locksmith or your car dealership to have a new key made. Alternatively, you can utilise technology such as key location apps or trackers to help find misplaced keys.
- Locked keys inside the car
When the keys are locked inside the car, there are a few DIY solutions to try before resorting to professional assistance. These methods include using a shoestring, coat hanger, plastic wedge, or inflatable door wedge. However, if you’re uncomfortable with these methods or fear causing damage to your car, calling a locksmith or roadside assistance service is recommended.
- Broken or malfunctioning key or lock
If the key or lock is broken or malfunctioning, it’s best to call a professional locksmith for assistance. They have the expertise and tools to fix the issue without causing further damage to your car.
- Electronic key fob issues
When the problem lies with an electronic key fob, try replacing the battery or resetting the fob. If these solutions don’t work, contact your car dealership for further assistance.
DIY Solutions for Car Lockouts
- Using a shoestring or string to unlock a car
This method works best for cars with a pull-up locking mechanism. Tie a slipknot loop in the middle of the string, and then carefully slide the string into the door through the top corner. Maneuver the loop around the lock, tighten it, and gently pull up to unlock the door.
- Unlocking with a coat hanger
A straightened coat hanger can be used to unlock a car door by creating a hook at one end. Carefully insert the hooked end into the door through the rubber seal or window opening, then try to hook onto the lock mechanism and pull it up. Exercise caution to avoid damaging your vehicle’s paint or weather stripping.
- Utilising a plastic wedge and a long, sturdy rod
A plastic wedge and a long rod can be used to unlock the car door by creating a small gap between the door and the frame. Insert the wedge into the gap and gently push it further in to create enough space for the rod. Use the rod to press the unlock button or manipulate the lock mechanism from inside the car.
- Inflatable door wedge and long reach tool
Similar to the plastic wedge method, an inflatable door wedge can be used to create a gap between the door and the frame. Insert the deflated wedge into the gap and inflate it to create enough space for a long reach tool. Use the tool to press the unlock button or manipulate the lock mechanism from inside the car.
Professional Assistance for Car Lockouts
- When to call a locksmith
If you’re unable to resolve the lockout using DIY methods, calling a professional locksmith is the best course of action. Locksmiths have the necessary expertise and tools to unlock your car without causing damage.
- When to contact your car dealership
If your car lockout is due to a broken or malfunctioning electronic key fob, contact your car dealership for assistance. They can provide guidance on resetting the fob or offer a replacement if needed.
- Roadside assistance services
Many car insurance policies and vehicle manufacturers provide roadside assistance services that include lockout assistance. Check your policy or car’s warranty to see if you’re covered and call for help if necessary.
Preventive Measures to Avoid Future Car Lockouts
- Spare keys
Having a spare key is one of the best ways to avoid lockout situations. Keep a spare key in a safe place, such as your home, or with someone you trust, like a family member or friend.
- Key location apps and trackers
Using a key location app or tracker can help you find misplaced keys quickly, reducing the risk of lockouts. Attach a tracker to your keychain and use the app to locate your keys when needed.
- Regular maintenance and inspection
Perform regular maintenance checks on your car’s locks and keys to ensure they’re functioning correctly. Replace worn-out keys and address any issues with the locks before they cause a lockout.
- Carrying a car lockout kit
A car lockout kit containing essential tools like a plastic wedge, long reach tool, and inflatable door wedge can be a lifesaver in lockout situations. Keep a kit in your car or have one readily available at home.
Car lockouts can happen to anyone, but knowing how to deal with such situations can save time, frustration, and potentially money.
By understanding the common causes of lockouts, exploring DIY solutions, and knowing when to seek professional assistance, you can be better prepared for any lockout scenario.
Additionally, implementing preventive measures can help you avoid future lockouts and ensure you’re always prepared. Stay calm, assess the situation, and remember that there are always solutions available to help you regain access to your car.