When you are locked out of your car, it’s a stressful situation. You might be late for work or an appointment and have no way to get in the car to drive yourself there.
What do you do? Do you call a friend or relative for help? Call a tow truck? Or just leave your keys in the car until someone finds them later that day when they come to pick up their kids from soccer practice? All of these options can be time-consuming and expensive. And none of them is guaranteed to solve your problem right away.
If it does happen, find an automotive locksmith who specializes in lockouts to help you out, or take your car to a locksmith shop where they can replace the lock or make new keys for you. Lastly, if the lockout was due to accidentally locking your keys inside your car, try using simple tools like bobby pins or a house key to unlock your car.
The following steps will help you get back in your car when your keys are locked inside
1) Do not panic.
Your first instinct would be to start banging on the locked door or breaking a window in order to get access back into your vehicle.
While this might work on some vehicles, it will only provide you with a temporary fix at best.
If done incorrectly, you could potentially cause damage to the internal mechanisms of the lock and leave you with an even bigger problem than when you started.
2) Call Right On Time Locksmith
We will dispatch one of our technicians to come to your location and unlock the door for you without causing any damage to your vehicle.
3) When the tech gets there they will ask you to pop open the hood. If you don’t know how to, they will guide you.
They will check that all the locks and latches are securely locked as some cars require key insertion into the driver’s side door lock before popping up the hood release.
4) Once popped open, it is time for the tech to take a look at your ignition system.
The tech will proceed to remove the ignitions lock cylinder that is inserted into the ignition switch. Once removed, they will inspect for any damage and visually confirm its authenticity.
The tech will also check all other keyholes in your car while at this stage just to be sure you don’t have a faulty door handle or trunk latch etc.
If there are any other keyholes that need a key, they will not proceed any further. This is to ensure no unnecessary time wasting and also prevent from more damage being done.
In some cases when your car ignition lock cylinder needs replacing you might have another car key that will open the door but will not work in the ignition switch. In this case, you might need to use the spare key to drive your car home.
5) Once everything is OK and looks like it will work, they will proceed to make a duplicate of your ignition switch in the shop.
This way if you ever lost or broke this one (oh lord please don’t do that, we hate when that’s even suggested) you can always come back to us and we will make you a new one.
Different methods of locking cars
It is important to note that in most cars, there are different methods of locking.
The common ones are with a key or fob using the door handle, the trunk latch, and finally, the steering column locks too. We will discuss each one individually below:
Door Handle Locks:
These can be opened by either inserting your key and trying to open the handle or by removing a small cover on the inside of the door via a Torx screwdriver. Once that is done, you can manually turn it from inside. This is usually pulled down in order for the door to be opened from within.
In most vehicles, this lock uses a key lock located inside your trunk which usually requires a screwdriver to be removed.
Once it’s opened, you can manually turn the latch from inside or from outside depending on how the car is designed.
The steering wheel lock:
This uses a key inserted into the ignition switch and will require some maneuvers in order for it to function.
Please note that this is not the same as your ignition switch which is located in the car door and is dealt with in the section below.
Steering Column Lock:
This lock can be similar to how you would open your trunk but instead of using a key, it might use some sort of unlock button on one side of the steering wheel.
This kind of lock uses the key once the car is turned off. Some cars will not allow you to open these locks if the car is still on.
Others might require you to press down your brake pedal in order for it to work. In this case, it’s best to put your car in park or neutral before attempting it.
If you have a key but the ignition switch is not working, it might be due to a faulty lock cylinder that needs replacement.
What happens if a key is lost and can’t open the door?
Key lock cylinder:
This part needs replacing if your car does not have any other openings that can be opened remotely with a key or from inside the car without using the actual key itself. In cases where there is another method to open these locks, we recommend using those instead as they will require less time to open the trunk or doors from within.
One of those methods is using a spare key that will open the door but not the ignition switch. In this case, you can use it to move your car from its current location.
In cases where you have lost all keys and there are no openings for your car, you might need to get your car towed home by professionals. This is because in some cases these locks cannot be opened without damaging them or require certain tools that don’t come with every automotive kit out there.
Another scenario that involves having duplicate keys made would still cost more than having it towed home instead of simply getting another one made.
If however, you get it towed home, make sure to get an estimate on how much you will need to pay before doing so because if they exceed a certain price, it might be worth it to just get a new key made.
What do I do if my car is towed and the locksmith can’t open it?
In some cases, your automotive locksmith will not be able to open your car because either the locks are too damaged or there is no key to be found. In these cases, you might need to get a new key made or have the car towed to a dealership so that they can help you out.
If you’re getting the car towed, make sure you ask how much it will cost so that you’re not surprised later on.
Did you know that in some states, automotive locksmiths are not allowed to tow cars?
Are you stuck outside of your vehicle because the key is locked inside?
Right On Time Locksmith offers 24/7 emergency services at affordable prices so that you never have to wait until morning or break a window again. We can immediately zero in on your lock and unlock it without damaging your vehicle.
We usually recommend keyless entry for this situation (key-less options and remote start systems) as it is usually reasonably priced, easy to install yourself, or have us do it for you.