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What to Do If You’ve Locked Your Keys in Your Car

Assess the Situation

Before you start panicking, take a moment to assess the situation. Are you in a safe place? Do you have any spare keys or a spare set of keys nearby? How urgent is it that you regain access to your car? These factors will help you determine the best course of action.

Try to Retrieve Your Keys

If you can see your keys through the window or if they are within reach, try to retrieve them using a coat hanger, a string, or any other tools that might be available. Be careful not to damage your car’s paint or windows in the process.

Call for Assistance

If you cannot retrieve your keys or if they are not within reach, call for assistance. Depending on your situation, you may want to call a locksmith, a towing company, or your car insurance provider. Keep in mind that some car insurance policies include roadside assistance, which can be a lifesaver in this situation.

Wait Patiently

If you’re in a safe place and have no urgent need to regain access to your car, consider waiting patiently. Use this time to catch up on some reading, listen to music, or enjoy the scenery. Sometimes, the best solution is simply to wait it out.

Preventing Future Lockouts

Once you’ve regained access to your car, it’s important to take steps to prevent future lockouts. Here are some tips:

  • Keep a spare key with a trusted friend or family member. This way, you can call them if you need a spare key and avoid the cost and hassle of calling a locksmith or towing service.
  • Invest in a magnetic key holder. You can attach this to the underside of your car and store a spare key inside. Just make sure to place it in a location that is not easily visible to potential thieves.
  • Consider getting a keyless entry system. Many modern cars come equipped with this feature, which allows you to unlock your car using a code or remote control. This eliminates the need for physical keys altogether.
  • Develop a habit of always double-checking your pockets or bag before locking your car. This can help you avoid accidentally locking your keys inside.

What Not to Do When Locked Out of Your Car

While it’s important to take action when locked out of your car, there are a few things you should avoid doing:

  • Don’t break a window to gain access to your car. This can be dangerous and costly and may cause damage to your car’s interior or exterior.
  • Don’t try to pick the lock yourself unless you have experience and the right tools. This can cause further damage to your car’s lock and may not even work.
  • Don’t leave your car unattended for an extended period of time. This can be dangerous and may attract unwanted attention from thieves or vandals.

Tips for Choosing a Locksmith Service

If you do need to call for professional assistance, here are some tips for choosing a locksmith or towing service:

  • Research local companies before you need them. This way, you can have a list of trusted providers to call in an emergency.
  • Look for companies with positive reviews and high ratings from previous customers.
  • Choose a company that is licensed, insured, and bonded. This ensures that they are qualified and trustworthy.
  • Get an estimate before agreeing to any services. This can help you avoid unexpected charges and make sure you’re getting a fair price.

Additional Tips for Retrieving Your Keys

If you’ve tried all the basic methods for retrieving your keys and still can’t access your car, here are some additional tips to consider:

  • Use a shoestring: This method works best with manual locks that have a knob on top. Simply tie a knot in the middle of the shoestring, then work the string into the car through the top of the door frame. Maneuver the string so that the knot is around the lock knob, then pull the ends of the string to tighten the knot and lift the knob to unlock the door.
  • Use a coat hanger: This method works best with manual locks that have a button on the door handle. Straighten a wire coat hanger and bend one end into a hook shape. Slide the hook into the space between the door and the car frame, then use it to try and hook the button and pull it up to unlock the door.
  • Use a wedge and rod: This method is more complicated but can work with power locks. First, wedge a doorstop or similar object between the door and the car frame to create a gap. Then, insert a long, thin rod (such as a slim jim) into the gap and use it to manipulate the lock mechanism from the inside.


Q: Can I use a coat hanger to unlock my car door?

A: It is possible to use a coat hanger to unlock a car door, but it requires some skill and patience. If you’re not confident in your abilities, it’s best to call for professional assistance.

Q: Will my car insurance cover the cost of a locksmith or towing service?

A: It depends on your car insurance policy. Some policies include roadside assistance, while others do not. Check your policy details or call your car insurance provider to find out.

Q: How long will it take for a locksmith or towing service to arrive?

A: It depends on the service provider and your location. In some cases, a locksmith or towing service can arrive within an hour. In other cases, it may take several hours.


If you’ve locked your keys in your car, don’t panic! There are several options for regaining access to your vehicle. Try to retrieve your keys if possible, call for assistance if necessary, and wait patiently if you have the luxury to do so. With these tips in mind, you’ll be back on the road in no time. Remember, accidents happen, and it’s important to stay calm and level-headed in any situation. Locking your keys in your car can be frustrating and stressful, but there are steps you can take to regain access and prevent future lockouts. Whether you retrieve your keys yourself, call for professional assistance, or wait patiently, remember to stay calm and level-headed. By following these tips, you can minimize the inconvenience and get back on the road as quickly and safely as possible.

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