If you ever find yourself locked out of your car or having trouble accessing your company vehicle, there are several considerations you can make to minimize disruption or the threat of an emergency.
The first thing many motorists do once they realize they’ve locked their keys in the car or are unable to open the doors is panic. Although this is a perfectly natural reaction, it’s important to breathe and assess your options.
Although it can feel like you’re stuck, there are plenty of options available to you. Let’s explore nine things to consider if you’re ever locked out of your car.
1. Call 911 if you’re in immediate danger.
Your safety should be of the utmost importance in this sort of scenario, so don’t hesitate to call 911 if you believe you or someone else is in immediate danger. This can be particularly important if your children are locked inside your car, for instance, or if your car is in a place where it could cause a traffic accident.
In most cases, the police will be able to unlock your car’s door for you, but if they can’t, they can at least help to make the scene safe while a tow truck is called. While this is certainly a viable option, remember to only dial 911 in an emergency to avoid unnecessary callouts.
2. Check for a spare key.
While this option may seem obvious when thinking clearly, in a situation where you’re unable to access your car it may be a little harder to remember that you keep a spare handy nearby. Stop, breathe, and spare a moment to consider if you or anyone close to you keeps a spare car key handy and accessible from your location.
If you don’t have a spare key, you may be able to access a temporary one from your dealership that could open the doors but not start the car. This could be a great asset if you have valuables stuck in your motor. To do this, however, you’ll need to find a ride to your dealership and will likely need your vehicle identification number (VIN) to hand.
3. Unlock via your car’s companion app.
For many modern cars, it’s possible to download a smartphone app that can unlock your car remotely in place of a physical key. Manufacturers that run this service include BMW with its Remote Services app and Mercedes with its ‘Me’ app.
This feature can be perfect for an emergency. After all, we’re far less likely to misplace our smartphones when many of us carry them alongside us all day every day. It’s a great advantage to download a companion app if you have one available and have its remote locking and unlocking capabilities on standby at all times.
4. Call an auto locksmith.
While you could be tempted to call 911 or a breakdown recovery service should you ever find yourself locked out of your car, it’s a far better option in non-emergency scenarios to get in touch with an auto locksmith. Auto locksmiths are skilled at delivering a car unlock service with minimal damage or disruption and can be more cost-effective to utilize if you’re not a member of a breakdown service.
5. Check your breakdown coverage.
Alternatively, you may be covered by the AAA to get free help when dealing with a lockout. Although these services don’t run 24 hours, certain AAA membership levels are entitled to one free lockout per year up to a fixed cost. In this case, it could be worth calling the AAA and informing them of your location, car details, and membership number to see if they can arrange a quick response to your predicament. In many cases, roadside assistance can take more than half an hour to arrive, so assess your options before giving them a call.
6. Invest in an inflatable pump wedge.
Buying an inflatable wedge kit could be a useful solution if your car is prone to acting up in terms of locking and unlocking. These auto entry tools can help you to prise open your car with minimal damage to the paintwork that could happen when using metal tools to unlock your door. Essentially, the wedge can create space between the door and the jamb, which enables you to use the right tools or rods to disengage the lock through the gap.
7. Unlock using your shoelace.
If you’re completely stuck and unable to find help at short notice, you may be able to use the tools around you to open your locked door. In this case, shoelaces can be an unlikely hero when it comes to unlocking your car. Although this doesn’t work with every type of lock, there’s a method that may be able to provide a quick fix for gaining access to your car.
Start by removing your lace and tying a knot at around 5 inches from the middle of the lace. Then slip the lace between the door and the doorframe of the car at the midpoint, holding one end of the lace at the top of the window and the other on the side where the door would open. Then, using a flossing motion, loop the slip knot around the post lock. Once this is done, pull on both ends of the shoelace to grip upward while tightening the knot.
Although this approach could leave you needing a new pair of shoelaces by the end of the process, it can be a useful option as a last resort or while you wait for assistance.
8. Use a coat hanger.
There are many tools that may be capable of helping you to unlock your car. If you have a coat hanger available and a horizontal lock, you may be able to use it by untwisting and molding it into the shape of a hook. By doing this, you can utilize the hook by positioning it within the lock and pulling to see if it can work the mechanism and open the door.
9. Break a window as an absolute last resort.
If you’re completely unable to get help and are stranded, it may be worth breaking the car window to gain access to your car. This can be an option if you’ve locked your keys inside your vehicle or have sufficient reason to believe that you’ll be unable to get help and that the issue is only limited to your door lock and not the ignition itself.
Beware, that this approach is highly dangerous and could cause damage to yourself and your vehicle in the process. Because manufacturers temper side glass, you would need a sharp tool to break them. Furthermore, cuts from glass can leave you needing a visit to the emergency room, so always bear in mind that this should only be considered as an absolute last resort.
Although being locked out of your vehicle can be a stressful experience, you have plenty of options available should the worst happen, and you become stuck. Be sure to consider your next steps and only take on the more drastic options if an emergency arises.
However, with the right level of preparation, you may have everything you need to avoid a costly roadside assistance call-out. In taking a moment to consider if you have remote unlocking in an app or a spare key handy, you may find that you’ve no reason to fret about accessing your car.
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