My Car Keys Are Locked In – What To Do?

As you walk to your car, your hand instantly reaches for your keys. Your heart sinks when you don't feel them. Then, you see them. Sitting in the driver's seat, almost taunting you as you rack your brain to figure out what to do. We have all been there. Locking your keys in your car happens to the best of us, and it can be frustrating. But don't worry, because we have done the research to help you know what to do the next time your car keys are locked in your vehicle. 

If you lock your keys inside your car, the best course of action is to call a locksmith. Call a roadside assistance company like AAA, if you have a membership. A spare key is highly recommended, either kept on your person or at a convenient location. Call a friend or family member to ask them to bring the spare key if you are locked out. If you do not want to get anyone else involved, there are a few methods you could try yourself:

  1.  A metal coat hanger 
  2.  A shoelace
  3.  A screwdriver and metal rod 
  4.  A Plastic strip 

We want to emphasize that the best thing to do when you lock your keys in your car is to call a locksmith. DIY methods can damage your vehicle and may not work on your vehicle. You probably have more questions about this topic, especially about the DIY methods. Keep reading to learn more about what to do when you've locked keys inside your car. 

Close up view of interior of brand new modern luxury key left inside the automobile, My Car Keys Are Locked In - What To Do?

DIY Methods To Unlock Your Car 

If you locked your keys in your car, you might not have time to wait around for a professional to help you. It is times like this when DIY methods for unlocking your car door can be useful. Keep in mind that there is a higher chance you will damage your car or not open the door, so you are taking a risk. 

Also, if you have a newer car, it will be more challenging to unlock. The older a vehicle is, the more likely a DIY method will work. Here are a few options you could try:

1. A Metal Coat Hanger 

Using a metal coast hanger is the most popular DIY method to unlocking a car door. It is a simple strategy that only takes a few minutes when done correctly. It is important to note that this method only works for manual locking systems. If your car has an automatic, electric, locking system, do not try this method.  


You must first straighten out a metal hanger, but leave the hook at one end. Then, insert the wire, hook side first, between the weather stripping of your car and the window in line with the lock. You may have to peel back the weather stripping. Make small movements with the hanger until you feel it latch onto something; this is the lock. Gently pull up to unlock your car. 

2. A Shoelace 

No matter where you are when you accidentally lock your keys in your car, there is a high chance you will have access to shoelaces. A simple string is all you need to unlock cars with pull-up locks. 


First, tie two shoelaces together to extend the length and tie a loop at the end of one of your shoelaces. Slide the shoelace behind the corner of the driver's door by wiggling it back and forth. Continue to pull it side-to-side as you lower it down towards the lock. Try to guide the loop until it is around your pull-up lock. Finally, pull the shoelace tightly as you pull up to unlock the door. 

3. A Screwdriver And Metal Rod

If you happen to have a screwdriver and long metal rod accessible, then you could have your car open in minutes. Keep in mind this DIY method may damage the paint and weather stripping of your vehicle. 


Using a Phillips head screwdriver, stick it between the weather stripping and frame of your car at the top of the door, pry open the car door a bit. Wiggle it back and forth until there is a large enough opening at the top of the door to stick the rod through. Now, the screwdriver acts a wedge to hold open the door. Poke the metal rod through the opening at the top, and use the rod to hit the automatic unlock button. Hopefully, you hit it on the first try!

4. A Plastic Strip 

If you have a long bendable piece of plastic, you may be able to unlock your car door. This method is similar to the shoelace method. Just like the shoelace method, this only works for cars with pull-up locks.


Take a strip of plastic and fold it in half to make a loop. Push that plastic into the interior of your car by gliding it behind the weather stripping around the window. If you can get past this first step, try to guide the loop around the lock. Once the lock is through the loop, pull tight and up to unlock the door. With the right touch, you could be driving in minutes. 

Calling A Locksmith

When you can't get into your car, the best option is to call a locksmith. It may cost a little more, but you can rest assured there will be no damage or headaches from failed DIY attempts. Most local locksmiths have professional tools to open vehicles safely. Waiting thirty minutes for a locksmith to show up is better than having to pay hundreds of dollars in repairs because you damaged your lock in an attempt to open your car door.  

How Much Does It Cost To Unlock A Car Door?

A locksmith service can cost between $50 and $300 to unlock a car door. This cost includes service call and labor. The price depends on your location and time of day. Rates usually go up at night, and the farther the locksmith has to travel to your car, the more it will cost. 

If you are locked out of your car because you lost your car keys, check out this post: Lost Car Keys? Here's What To Do.

Call A Roadside Assistance Company 

If you have a membership with a roadside assistance company, call them when you lock your keys in your car. Most memberships included a limited number of emergency assistance calls, and locking yourself out of your vehicle falls under that category. If you do not already have a roadside assistance membership, you may want to look into getting one. Triple-A (AAA) is one of the most popular providers. 

Does AAA Unlock Car Doors For Free?

Yes, AAA does unlock car doors for free as part of their membership. An agent will come to you and provide this service at no extra cost. It is one of the many perks of having a membership. Of course, you are paying a monthly or yearly fee to be a member, but you never know when it may come in handy. 

Can A Towing Company Unlock My Car?

Most towing companies will unlock car doors. However, many people only call a tow truck company as a last resort because they tend to be more expensive. But, if there is no locksmith close to you, it is the middle of the night, or you don't have a roadside assistance membership, then using a towing company may be your only option. 

Use A Spare Key

Close up image of a car key fob, How To Start A Push-Start Car?

Using a spare car key to unlock your car door when your keys are locked in may be the easiest solution. If you have a spare key to your car, either go get it or call someone and ask them to bring it to you. 

If you do not have a spare key to your car, you should consider getting one made. Check out: Where To Get Car Keys Made.

Never Get Locked Out Of Your Car Again!

Next time you accidentally lock your keys in your car, don't worry. There are plenty of ways to unlock your vehicle. You can try various DIY methods, but it is always best to call a professional. Locking your keys in your car is frustrating, but remember it happens to all of us. Take a deep breath and know help can be on the way soon! 

Share this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *