How to Open a Locked Car Door When Your Keys are Stuck Inside

Getting locked out of your car is extremely frustrating. Especially when you are in a hurry and if you don’t have any idea how to open a locked car door, it worsens the feeling. There’s no point attempting to open the door if you don’t understand the technical know-how.

To save yourself from that situation, you need to understand your locking mechanism by reading this article to know about the various methods you should adopt to open your locked car door easily and still get to that meeting on time.

How to open a Locked car door

First, you need to know that the lock mechanism on cars varies widely. There are some vehicles whose locking knob is on the inside top of the doors just below the window, and there are some others that have power locks designed with a remote, which is very common in modern vehicles. So an approach for one might not work for the other.

Anyways don’t worry your head about all that. We will vividly explain various ways you can open your locked car door. But before you begin using any of these methods, make sure you are familiar with your vehicle’s unlock mechanism; it helps in knowing which of the methods is best for your car.

Note: For vehicles with security systems, the car alarm will go off if you plan to unlock your car door without the key. So having your ID in your pocket is smart in case the cops come at you.

Method 1: A-Rod and a Screwdriver

how to unlock a car door with a screwdriver

This method is tricky and dangerous, especially for beginners, but again since most people know how to unlock a car door with a screwdriver, It’s quite common. For you to successfully use this method, you only need a steel rod and a screwdriver.

Please note that the rod has to be long and thin. You can also use any firm instrument you have; it doesn’t matter, as long as it is long and thin.

Gently use the screwdriver to pry your door open to an extent you can put the rod in. When you have gotten that space, put your rod inside your vehicle, still holding one edge. But before you place the rod in, you need to first bend the other tip of the rod to form a hook, making the process easier.

Be aware that using metal objects to pry your car doors open can cause several damages, so you need to be extremely careful. If you are close to a hardware store, you can find a more appropriate tool if you are uncomfortable using the steel rod.

Please do not take off the screwdriver; it will be acting as a wedge to enable you to move your rod. Then use your rod to pull the handle or push the unlock button; this should open your door.

You may dent your door a little, which can easily be fixed. However, if you find this method convenient, go for it but exercise all the necessary precautions.

Method 2: Use your spare key

unlock car door service

This is the easiest way to open your locked car door. Mounting a magnetic key box on your car’s frame saves you a lot of stress and money.

Ensure your key box is firmly mounted to not fall off while driving under harsh conditions. Also, place the box in a secured location to prevent anyone from getting easy access.

The option of keeping your spare in your wallet or your home is also a wise option. With this, even if you have locked keys in a car how to unlock the door wouldn’t be an issue, you can easily call someone to help you get it, and you use it to open your door without breaking a sweat.

Method 3: A Slim Jim

how to use a slim jim to open a locked car door

A Slim Jim is a tool crafted to maneuver through horizontal and vertical manual locks. This tool was designed typically to be used on old vehicles for opening locked car doors.

Insert your flat metal piece in between your weather-stripping and glass of your window, using the tool’s hook in hand. Twist your tool till the hook faces you. Use it to carefully search for the lock pin inside your vehicle and pull it upwards.

Several wires run inside a car door, you have to be careful, so you don’t damage one of them, or even worse, damage your vehicle’s entire door locking mechanism, and getting that fixed will certainly cost you a lot. So it’s always best you ensure that you’d got your locking pin before pulling up.

Cars designed with a power lock system come with a lot more wires inside the door, so trying to use the slim Jim to open those kinds of doors isn’t an option. If you must use the slim Jim method of opening car doors, you should use it on the passenger’s door.

Why? It’s because it has much fewer obstacles than the driver’s door, reducing the risk of causing damage. However, you must be aware of the risks involved if you want to try this method. Even when you do it correctly, the slim Jim can still damage your window; that’s why most locksmiths advise against using this method.

If you must use this method, please ensure you use it on old vehicles not designed with power locks. Try as much as possible to be very gentle to limit the extent of any incurred damage.

Method 4: Coat Hanger

how to open a car with a wire hanger

The coat hanger method is a lot like that of the slim Jim. You need to get a wire hanger for this method, untwist it, and shape one edge to a hook. Place it into your weather-stripping and jiggle till you locate your locking mechanism. This might take some time, but you will get it right.

You can search your vehicle’s locking mechanism on the manual so you can locate it on time and know where to aim your wire hanger, making the process a lot faster. This method can be used on horizontal locks since you are dealing with lock mechanisms and not trying to push the lock button in your car.

Method 5: Shoestring

how to open a locked door with a shoelace

Of course, a shoestring can be used to open your locked car door. You might seem surprised, but it’s true. Although you can only use this on vehicles made with vertical-post door locks, it’s actually a very simple process.

You need to first shimmy the string’s edges till you reach the post. When you’ve gotten the slipknot’s loop over the post, then, you have to pull the ends of the string to grab the post, pulling it up to an unlocking position. If you asking for an easy way on how to open a car door from inside yourself, this is it.

Like we stated earlier, this method only works on older vehicles. Do not forget that. You also have to take off your knot’s position, and a wrong position can damage your lock or bend your lock post. The type of vertical post your car possesses has a role in determining the difficulty level of this method.

Method 6: Call a locksmith

unlock car door service

Calling a locksmith is the safest way to unlock your car door, but it will cost you. Instead of trying various ways on how to open your locked car door, you can save yourself the stress and call your local locksmith, who will help open your door easily.

Even if your car has a power lock system, they know how to unlock a car door with power looks quickly. Locksmiths are trained to access the locks of all vehicles (old and new) in a professional manner causing little or no damage done to the vehicle using several specialized tools.

Method 7: Smashing your window

Smashing your window

This method is meant for emergencies only. If you have to break your window, make sure you use a glass breaker or a hammer and do not aim at the center of the window, instead aim at the outer edge, which is the weak part of the window, then the center, the strongest part.

Destroying your vehicle window is the last option, except during emergencies, like when a baby is being strapped in, and you don’t have a spare. You also have to worry about harming yourself in the process since you are dealing with glass.

But if it all goes well, you only have to deal with getting a new window. Until you get your window fixed, don’t forget to park your vehicle in a garage to keep it away from the rain.

FAQs

Q: How do I open my locked car with a flathead screwdriver?

Step 1: Locate the unlock key

This is the first and most important step. If you are familiar with your vehicle, locating your unlock key would be very easy. If you are not, you can check your car’s manual; it should tell you where you’re to unlock key is located.

Step 2: Pry the door with a screwdriver.

Carefully pry into your door using your screwdriver and use it as a wedge in between your door and its frame. When you use a screwdriver to wedge a door, you apply high pressure on your door and lock mechanism, making you run at risk of bending your door or damaging your lock mechanism. So you have to do this as delicate as you can.

Now you have to be able to get your screwdriver in the middle of the door and frame, push it in until its tip gets inside your vehicle. Ensure you stay far away from the hinges so you can have enough space.

Step 3: Insert the tool to push your unlock button.

The best tool you can use for this is a long, thin, and firm coat wire coat hanger. You will have to place your wedge in the angle you need to insert your tool.

If you can get to the electronic unlock key, all you have to do is push the button down, and your car door will open, but if you can’t reach your electronic key, you can still open your door by using the hook to pull its handle.

Step 4: Take out your tool and wedge.

Please ensure that before you open your door, you have removed your tool and wedge. This is very crucial. Opening your door with the wedge and tool still in place can damage your vehicle’s lock mechanism, and it is very costly to repair.

Gently take out your tool first, remove the screwdriver, and then you can now open your car door. There’s no need to go through this if your car has features that support remote door unlocking; you can check up how to open a locked car door with a cell phone and get your door open.

Q: What do I do if I lock my keys in the car?

Everyone hates being locked out from their cars, especially if the spares are in there too. However, there are various effective methods you can try to unlock your car door, including;

  • Using your shoestring
  • Coat hanger method
  • Use a Slim Jim
  • Using a ride and screwdriver
  • An inflatable wedge
  • Using a tennis ball (Hail Mary’s method)
  • Call a locksmith or car assistance provider

You can learn how to unlock your car door with any of these methods.

Q: How much is pop a lock for a car?

To get the actual cost of popping a car lock, you have to take into account the cost of contacting the locksmith, the nature of the lockout, and some other factors. That’s why most persons prefer to learn how to pick a car lock themselves.

The cost to unlock your car using the service of a locksmith starts at $15, Then car lockouts usually begin at $35, but still depending on the complexity of the job and your factors. This sums up to give $50.

If you do not have access to your spare keys or your key is broken, the cost of making a new key is usually around $160. You don’t have to make your car key immediately if you can’t accommodate the cost.

Q: Can cops help unlock cars?

Well, the cops might be able to help you out, but they shouldn’t be your first resort when you are locked out of your vehicle. However, if they are cannot do it themselves, they can help you with a tow truck, but you will have to pay for that service.

Of course, the police will not unlock your car for free. I mean, who can I call to unlock my car door for free? No one, of course, unless during emergencies. In those times when the cops get to the scene, they might smash your window to access your vehicle because they do not possess the right tools to unlock car doors.

So it is much better to call a locksmith if you are trapped outside of your vehicle. You can also call an emergency locksmith if needed.

Q: How much does it cost to fix a locked car door?

The cost of fixing a car door has several factors that determine its price including the parts that will need replacement, the different causes of the lockout. So giving a fixed price on how much it will cost to repair a locked car door can be difficult. The type of car also determines the price range, as spare parts of vehicles vary in price. 

On using a locksmith for the job, the cost of repair includes the service cost of the locksmith and the repair cost. How complex the job is to determine the labor cost. Getting a locksmith to do the job will range between $75 – $220, which might be expensive, but you are sure of getting your car door fixed.

Towing your vehicle to your dealership to do the work is the most expensive. First, you have to pay the tow fee and deal with the set price of the dealership.

Well, looking on the bright side, you are sure your locked car door will be fixed. However, you might not get your door fixed as quickly as when you use an auto locksmith. We range the cost of using a dealership to fix your locked car door to be around $200 – $650.

Final Words

Unlocking a car door is a lot more technical than it seems, so you have to know the right methods on how to open a locked car door before attempting one, which is precisely what this guide has offered you. Ensure you read through each of the methods thoroughly, as this is vital if you intend to successfully unlock your car door.

It’s essential to know that none of these methods should be used in breaking into people’s vehicles, as it’s considered a felony in most countries, and that can send you to prison.

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Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a seasoned automotive technician for the past 9 years, and a technical writer. He loves writing about auto professional repair guides, DIY repair guides, and buyer’s guide. After spending six years in the automotive workshop, he decided to impact his knowledge to people aside his domain, and he has achieved this by centering his Automotive writing skills on REPAIRS.

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