It happens to the best of us: on the busiest of days just when we have that all-important meeting to attend we jump out of the car, bang the door shut only to realize having left the locked keys in car. In fact, it happened to me this past week. I rarely get out of the house; most of the time I’m staring at my computer screen working on some online marketing project. But I happened to go out for a client meeting around lunch time, and whaddaya know? I ended up stranded at the restaurant wondering how to get home. Obviously I made it home, as I was able to write up this article, which I hope will be of help to you if you’re ever stuck in the same situation.
Calm down! It happens to the best of us. If it is any solace, nearly 4,000,000 Americans are known to have a “locked keys in car” issue annually. The numbers especially increase in December during the busy shopping season. So, take some deep calming breaths. If you have your phone with you, dial 911. Alternatively, you could call a loved one in case they can get you a spare set of keys. Most emergency personnel can help unlock your car for you. If not, they can at least have it towed to the nearest car center and get the job done.
- Contact AAA or other roadside assistance
If you are a member of AAA or have purchased car insurance from reputable companies, then you could call them. Many of these organizations provide roadside assistance and can come to help you out. Granted, this could take some time — even several hours. So make sure you are safe and if there is a mall or a restaurant nearby, do not hesitate to go in and take shelter in adverse weather. This is an ideal step that could help most car owners having locked keys in car. However, to do this, you have to have your phone with you and also the car’s manual where the roadside assistance center’s number is listed. If the manual has been locked inside the car, then this step is not for you. It is always a good idea to keep all these useful emergency numbers on your phone or in a diary which must be carried on your person at all times.
- You can try to unlock the car yourself
Note: this step must only be tried if you know what you are doing. You will need a shoelace or a string which you must loop and insert from the car’s door near its window where the weathering strip is located. Try and get the string inside and wind it around the car’s door knob. This is not easy and you will need to be very patient. Once you manage to successfully loop the string or shoelace around the car’s door opening mechanism, you will need to pull the end in your hand gently so as to tighten the loop. Once this is accomplished, you can vertically pull the knob and unlock the door.
Another method for opening car doors when you have locked your keys in the car is the use of a hanger. Take a wire clothes hanger and straighten it. Now bend the straightened end of the hanger so it forms a hook and insert it inside the car from under the window where the car’s door locking mechanism is located. Jiggle the hanger around until you are able to locate its mechanism of locking. Now push the hanger around and upwards so that it hooks around the door locking mechanism. Once this has been located, simply keep pushing until the mechanism unlocks.
- If you have the tendency to leave your keys in the car
If you have the tendency of forgetting your car keys inside locked cars again and again, then there are some preventive steps to take:
- Keep a spare key handy. You can do so in a secret spot inside/outside your house, in your purse or wallet, or even on the exterior of the car itself (using a magnetic metallic box which you can attach under the car where thieves won’t see it).
- Better still, you could buy a car that cannot be locked unless the key is removed from the ignition.
- Get a replacement key made from the car’s manufacturer/dealer. Making a replacement key costs a whole lot of money, which you wouldn’t want to spend. You could alternatively visit a nearby locksmith or key maker to have a temporary key This will only open the door but not start the car.
I hope these steps help you get out of a tricky and stressful situation (should you ever find yourself in one…)