It is quite common for car owners to accidentally lock their keys in the vehicle; either by leaving them on the seat, dashboard, or inside the trunk. When this happens, do not panic. You are not alone and there are ways to retrieve your keys safely without damaging your car.
In this article, we will share a few automotive locksmith tricks that you can try yourself before calling a professional to get you back into your vehicle in no time. Remember that if you ever encounter trouble with any of these methods or want a faster solution without the hassle of trying everything yourself—a professional locksmith is just a call away.
Using a Shoelace or String
This trick works best for cars with a locking mechanism that can be pulled up by wrapping a string around it. If you have an older model vehicle or one that does not have keyless entry buttons on the door handle, using a shoelace or string may save the day.
- Tie a small slipknot loop at the center of your shoelace or string.
- Carefully wedge one end of the string through the top corner of your car door until you can insert it at least several inches inside.
- Maneuver the string so that its looped part slides down towards the interior lock mechanism (you may need some maneuvering skills here).
- Wrap the loop around the lock mechanism and, while pulling both ends of the string with equal pressure, attempt to pull up the lock.
- If successful, your car door should unlock. Carefully retrieve your keys and ensure that you remove all of your string material from inside your car before driving off.
Using a Coat Hanger
A metal coat hanger can be used as an improvised tool to unlock your car door. However, remember that this method might scratch or damage external surfaces (especially if paint is involved) so be cautious and gentle when attempting this trick.
- Unravel a metal coat hanger until it reaches its maximum length and straightness.
- Bend one end of the hanger into a hook shape that can wrap around the interior locking mechanism of your car door (it may take some practice).
- Carefully insert the hooked part of the hanger into the space between your car window and door frame. Make sure not to damage any components in this process.
- Maneuver the hook until it snags onto your doors locking mechanism— applying even pressure will help maintain steady control—and pull upwards gently until you successfully unlock your vehicle. Retrieve those locked-in keys immediately afterward!
Inflatable Wedge Kit
This method is typically safer for newer cars since it minimizes potential damage caused by makeshift tools like coat-hangers or strings. You can purchase an inflatable wedge kit online or from an automotive store; having one on hand means you are well-prepared should you accidentally lock yourself out again!
- Gently insert a flat plastic wedge (included in most kits) between your car windows edges and the door frame to create a small gap.
- Insert the inflatable wedge into this narrow gap—be mindful not to damage any car parts surrounding it—and pump up the wedge until it widens further. As a result, you will have room to work with an improvised tool that can reach your lock mechanism through this widened space.
- Use either an included “reach tool” or a non-destructive tool of your choice (e.g., straightened coat hanger) to maneuver into position for unlocking your vehicle as previously described in our other methods mentioned above.
- Unlock the door, deflate and remove the inflatable wedge, and retrieve your locked-in keys before driving away!
Contacting a Professional Automotive Locksmith
If none of these tricks are successful or if you are hesitant about using makeshift tools on your vehicle without professional guidance, then do not worry! Calling a professional automotive locksmith is always the safest option when it comes to retrieving keys locked inside your car. One of the safest and most reliable methods is to hire a van equipped with specialized tools that can efficiently retrieve your keys without causing any damage to your vehicle.
Most locksmiths provide swift assistance and can use specialized equipment approved by car manufacturers themselves. It is generally worth considering saving their contact information for emergencies, as you never know when they may be needed in the future!