I Locked My Keys in My Car, What Can I Do?

 Locking your keys in the car can happen to anyone. There are lots of ways to do it. I once put my dog in the car to take her to the veterinarian and had to run back in the house. When I got back outside she had jumped and hit the master lock locking all doors in the vehicle. Regardless of how your vehicle got locked with the keys inside, you need to be calm and think fast on how to get it unlocked.

Stay Calm and Try to Think About Your Options

Businessman looking through window at keys locked in car
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Are All the Doors Locked? 

Panicking in a tough situation is common. I know it is obvious but checking all the doors is important. The last thing you want to do is call for help just to find out you had an unlocked door. Do yourself a favor and do a double check really quick.

Know Where the Spare Key Is Located

Do you know where the spare key is at? Maybe there is someone who could bring it to you. Often using the spare is not an option but it can save you both time and money if you can get it.

Is It an Emergency?

Emergencies should be handled a little differently for a standard lockout. For instance, if a baby is locked in the vehicle even on a semi-warm day it can certainly be important to get the vehicle unlocked as soon as possible. Waiting around for a tow truck or someone to deliver your spare key could be deadly. Hot cars pose huge threats against children and animals. Breaking a window may be your only option.

How to Break a Car Window

Breaking a Car Window
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Breaking a car window is not as easy as it sounds. It is extremely difficult as a matter of fact especially if you have never considered it before. The windshield will be nearly impossible to break because it is laminated glass. Of course, that is what we want when driving down the road. Side window glass is tempered meaning it is strong but not nearly as strong as the windshield.

Tips for Breaking a Side Window on a Car

  • You need something sharp. A hammer would surely be convenient but you will want to use the claw end. A screwdriver would also be handy. Maybe a golf club or a sturdy ice window scraper would do.
  • The center of a car glass window is the strongest. Try breaking the glass closer to the edge where it is weakest.
  • Tinted glass is the best because it will not shatter. The tint will hold it together yet still allow the glass to be broken and removed. Always choose the window furthest from a child to protect him or her from shattered glass spray.
  • It can be frustrating trying to get the glass to break when you do not have something sharp to get the job done. Keep calm and ask someone nearby if they can help. Beating relentlessly on a glass window without the proper tool will only cause you more stress.

If you are still unable to break the glass, find someone to help you. Look for someone nearby or call someone for help. Calling the tow company if there is one located nearby may still be the best option. When you make the call, explain why it is an emergency to hopefully speed up their service. Worse case scenario would be to call the police for help.

Try to Unlock the Door Yourself

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Don't feel like shelling out $50 to get your car unlocked? How does the tow service guy unlock your vehicle anyways? Is there a possibility you can do it yourself? Tow companies are professionals and they have the proper tools to get the job done. You are going to need a few things to get the door unlocked on your own.

Most tow service companies use an inflatable device to wedge the door open. A handy hack would be to use a blood pressure cuff. It is strong enough to withstand the pressure without ripping. It is possible you have one at home or you could ask a friend or family member to pick one up.

How to Unlock a Locked Car Door 

  • Slide a deflated blood pressure cuff in between the top corner of the driver's side door
  • Blow the cuff up until there is a small gap creating an opening in the vehicle
  • Do not over expand the cuff because it could damage the door
  • Use a wire coat hanger or other long skinny object that will fit
  • Squeeze the coat hanger into the opening and hit the unlock button

It will probably take a little finagling to get the cuff into the door. You really want to be careful about bending the door by over inflating the cuff. A damaged door can cost a whole lot more to repair than hiring a tow service.

Most people do not have a blood pressure cuff lying around. It is certainly even less likely that you will have access to it at the exact moment you are locked out of the car. The best and simplest way to get your vehicle unlocked is to call a tow service and then determine if you have a roadside assistance plan that will reimburse you.

Figure Out If You Have Roadside Assistance

Towing Service
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Car Insurance: The fastest way to find out if you have policy is to call your insurance agent or customer service representative and ask. Most car insurance policies do not automatically include roadside assistance. Most do not even allow you to carry the coverage unless you have comprehensive coverage listed on your policy.

Coverage limits vary but if you have roadside assistance it will probably cover a lockout of a vehicle. A lockout tends to be one of the cheapest roadside assistance features. The cost of getting your vehicle unlocked by a tow service can vary in cost but will likely fall somewhere between $25 and $50.

Nothing is more frustrating than paying for something twice. It is important to know what coverage you have and where. Make sure to double check all of these possibilities you might have before tossing your tow receipt in the trash.

Warranty Service: New cars come with warranties. Many of those warranties provide roadside assistance. And if you are lucky, it will cover the costs of a lockout. It is important to know exactly what your warranty covers otherwise you could lose out on some important benefits. It is a wise decision to use your warranty roadside assistance without purchasing a second coverage.

Even some pre-owned vehicles come with a warranty. To find out more about your warranty call the dealership you bought the vehicle from. Give the VIN to your vehicle and they should be able to look it up.

Cell Phone Company: Cell phones do not automatically give you roadside assistance plan. It is something you add to your plan and pay extra for. You do have the option to call and add it and use it immediately however you might want to check the price tag first. If you are just looking to get this lockout covered, it is probably not the cheapest way to go.

Credit Card: It is possible your credit card comes with roadside assistance. The chances of having coverage increases if you pay an annual fee or have one of those buzz words attached to the card's name like platinum or diamond. Most cards no longer offer roadside assistance as a card perk but it is often still available to purchase. Call your credit card company to find out what your card offers.

Call a Tow Truck Service

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Usually, the fastest and most convenient way to get your vehicle unlocked is to call a tow truck service. Calling the one that is closest to your location can also help speed up the process.

No Out of Pocket Cost

In order to get your tow covered by your car insurance carrier up front without any out of pocket cost to you, it is important to report the claim directly to your car insurance carrier or alternate roadside assistance plan. Call the claim in directly to your roadside assistance plan, for example, your car insurance company.

  • Provide the vehicle's location
  • Leave a good contact phone number
  • Know your policy number

Then it would be probable that your insurance carrier would call one of their preferred tow truck service providers. The tow service would in return contact you to verify and would be dispatched to come unlock your vehicle. The bill would then go directly to your car insurance carrier and you would pay zero out of pocket.

Get Reimbursed

Sometimes it might be easier to pay for the lockout service on your own rather than try to call in a claim right when you need the car unlocked. Most roadside assistance plans allow you to turn in a receipt of your fee and get reimbursed so long as you had coverage at the time of the service.

  • You will need access to a phone
  • Call a tow truck service
  • Provide your location
  • Make payment once your vehicle is unlocked
  • Save your receipt
  • Deliver the receipt to your car insurance agency by hand or send it in a fax or email

Tow claims are pretty much the easiest type of claim to file. Most are expedited and payment is issued the same day. Nobody plans on using roadside assistance but it sure is convenient.