Tips for Getting into Your Car without Your Keys

By Deanna Sclar

If you’ve ever locked your keys in the car, you know how frustrating it can be. Assuming that you’ve decided not to risk hiding an extra set of keys on your car, here are a few tips on how to open a locked car door.

Opening locked car doors

Figuring out the best method for how to open a locked car door depends on the tools you have at your disposal as well as the type of vehicle you have — more particularly, the type of locks installed in your car.

If you have the old-style door locks with little buttons on the window ledge, you should be able to unlock your door with a wire coat hanger. To do so, straighten the hanger and bend the end into a little hook. Insert it between the rubber molding and the side window and then carefully hook it around the door button and pull it up. You’re in!

If you have smooth buttons, you can try to hook one using the hanger technique, but most will refuse to budge. Another method is to use a door stop (or wedge) and a long metal rod. Then, you take the same approach, inserting the wedge into the top of the door to make an opening. Place the rod into the opening and use it to push down on the unlock button of your car.

Unfortunately, if your vehicle has door locks that are recessed inside the interior door handle, get professional help.

If you happen to lock yourself out of the vehicle while you have the trunk open, you may be able to move the rear seat out of the way and gain access to the rear of the car (or you can hide an extra ignition key in the trunk).

Electronic car door openers

Fortunately, many new vehicles come with electronic door openers or “digital keys” that don’t allow you to lock the doors with the keys in the vehicle. The downside is that if you lose the gadget, it can take days and hundreds of dollars to replace it, and you’ll probably need to have the vehicle towed to a dealer who will order a new key.

If your vehicle has an electronic door opener, you may be able to get the door open, but if you’ve lost the opener outside your vehicle, the ignition may fail to start without it. Some vehicles have override switches for this, so find out whether you’d be able to start your vehicle without your opener, and locate the override switch now, if there is one.

If you need professional help, call emergency road assistance and ask if they will be able to open the door. If not, ask them to send a local locksmith. The good news is that each car key is coded by the auto manufacturer, and if you have the key code number and personal identification, a locksmith can make you a new key. Write down the key code number and leave it where someone at home can read it to you in an emergency.