Locked Out of Your Car? Here’s How to Retrieve Your Keys Safely and Easily

Getting locked out of your car is never a pleasant experience, especially if your keys are still inside. It can be frustrating and time-consuming to figure out a solution, especially if you’re in a hurry or far from home.

However, there are ways to retrieve your keys safely and easily without damaging your car or causing harm to yourself. In this guide, we’ll provide you with helpful tips and tricks on how to get keys out of a locked car, whether you have access to spare keys or not. By following our instructions, you’ll be back on the road in no time.

But before we go through, if you’re dealing with tree sap on your car’s paint, check out our guide for helpful tips and tricks to restore your car’s shine.

Understand Your Situation

When you find yourself locked out of your car, you’ll want to start by assessing your situation. Look around and note if you are in a safe and secure place, as well as any potential obstacles that may exist near your car.

Check for an extra key

Locked Out of Your Car - Check for an extra key

If you routinely keep an extra car key with you, look for it in your bag or pocket first. If you don’t have access to the spare key or if you don’t have one at all, try to see if the door is unlocked or if a window is open. You may be able to unlock the door from the inside using a tool like a wire hanger and carefully pushing against the unlock mechanism.

If all else fails and no spare key is available, contact an auto locksmith or your roadside assistance service as soon as possible. A professional locksmith will be able to come and make you a new car key on site within an hour or two, depending on your location and the availability of parts.

If spare keys are not available then they will also be able to help with other options such as re-keying the existing lock set in your vehicle, replacing the existing lock set completely, or even retrieving keys that are stuck in the ignition system of your vehicle.

Determine if the car is locked or the key is stuck

Determine if the car is locked or the key is stuck

Before you take any of the steps to get your keys out of your locked car, you need to determine if the issue is that the car is actually locked or that your key is stuck in the ignition.

If it’s just a matter of a stuck or broken key, it can be much simpler to address than if the car has actually been locked with all doors and windows shut. To check if this is the case, try turning off and on the key several times. If it still won’t turn but you can open up any of the doors without an issue then it’s likely not that the car is actually locked but instead, there’s an issue with the ignition lock.

If trying a few times to start up your engine and open up any of your car’s doors fails, then it’s more likely that there are no unlocked doors and/or windows in your vehicle. If this happens, you’ll need to look into methods for unlocking a locked car door so as to be able to get back into your vehicle and retrieve your keys.

Tools and Supplies

Getting the keys out of a locked car can be tricky, but it is possible with the right tools and supplies. Some of the common supplies and tools used for this task include a slim jim, a coat hanger, a wedge, a lubricant, and a flashlight.

In this section, we’ll discuss how to use these tools and supplies to get your keys out safely.

Gather the necessary tools

Gather the necessary tools - Locked Out of Your Car

Before beginning this project, you’ll need to collect the necessary tools and supplies. You will need a wire coat hanger, needle-nose pliers, a flathead screwdriver, and a small mirror with an extendable handle. Additionally, it may be helpful to have a flashlight so that you can see into the locked car.

To begin the process of getting keys out of a locked car, first use your needle-nose pliers or wire cutter to unravel the coat hanger into one long piece of wire. Once it has been straightened out, bend one end into a half-circle loop which will serve as the lever which will get your keys out of your car.

Create two smaller loops on either side of the half-circle so you can have more control when maneuvering from within the car. Make sure that all loops are solid and sturdy before attempting to insert them into your vehicle.

Next take your flathead screwdriver and insert it into each loop in order to make them narrow enough to fit inside of keyholes found on many cars today. Take care when doing this and make sure not to damage any wires or create scrapes or dents around the edges of each loop – imperfections can throw off how well they fit in keyholes when trying to remove keys from a locked car later on in this process.

Finally, attach the small mirror with an extendable handle onto its base and securely connect this setup to one end of your prepared wire coat hanger tool – use an adjustable wrench if needed for additional tightening power!

Buy a slim jim

A “slim jim” is a special long metal tool used to unlock cars. It is inserted between the weatherstripping and, when manipulated correctly, unlocks the vehicle. This type of tool is produced by companies specializing in car repair tools and can be found in any auto parts store.

When buying a slim jim, ask for instructions that show how to use it properly, since manipulating the device incorrectly can cause damage to your vehicle or lock mechanism. Additionally, some models are specially designed to fit certain cars; check that you are buying the correct Slim Jim for your vehicle type before making your purchase.

Retrieve the Keys

Locked Out of Your Car - Retrieve the Keys

If you’ve locked your keys in your car, the first step is to not panic. Instead, you should take a deep breath and think of a way to retrieve the keys. There are several ways to do so, from using a coat hanger or an inflatable wedge to contacting a locksmith.

Use a coat hanger

Using a coat hanger is one of the most popular methods for retrieving a set of keys that have been locked in a car. All you need is something long and thin, such as an aluminum coat hanger, to reach in through the gap between the window frame and the door frame.

Unbend the hanger and make sure it is shaped somewhat like a hook so it can latch on to the keychain. Carefully maneuver this hook around so it can latch onto the keyring then gently pull them to you.

This method works best if your car has manual locks as there are fewer parts that could potentially get caught on the hook and create difficulties. Ensure safety by wearing protective gloves just in case fibers from coats damage the paintwork after coming off with repeated attempts at retrieval.

Professional Assistance

Professional Assistance - locksmith - Locked Out of Your Car

If you are having difficulty getting keys out of a locked car, professional assistance may be the best solution.

Professional locksmiths or technicians can be called to assist in this situation. They have the tools and knowledge to get keys out of a locked car efficiently and safely.

Call a locksmith

If you have tried all the DIY methods mentioned and your keys still cannot be retrieved, it is probably time to call a locksmith. It is one of the most reliable ways to get back in your car. Some of them even offer a 24-hour emergency service, so you can be sure of a quick response at any time of day or night.

A locksmith technician will come to the scene, have a look at the type of lock and help you take out your keys. The process usually begins with examining the lock mechanism with either laser equipment or tiny tools such as pick tools and extraction tools.

Once opened, the locksmith would then assess how exactly you may need help getting your key out because of its position and shape in the keyhole or lock core. They will then decide on which extraction technique—a hook extractor tool, an electric pick gun or an angle grinder—is most suitable to remove the key from its awkward position inside the lock cylinder.

Getting professional assistance from locksmiths is not only reliable but also safer for both you and your car than any DIY methods such as using wire coat hangers as they come with some level of risk due to their brute force method; a situation that can potentially cause more harm than good if done incorrectly.

Call a tow truck

Call a tow truck - Locked Out of Your Car

If you find that you have locked your keys in your car or otherwise, cannot gain entry to it, calling a tow truck is often the best option. Experienced tow-truck personnel will come to wherever you are, many times within 30 minutes of the request, and are well-trained in gaining access to locked vehicles.

This includes using specialized tools and techniques to lessen the risk of damaging the vehicle’s lock or security system. Additionally, some tow truck personnel may even be willing to unlock a door using a spare set of your car keys.

When calling for a tow truck for such assistance, make sure that you are specific in describing your situation and what kind of help you need as this can play an important part in what kind of charge applies when receiving service.

Please also remember that it may still be necessary for the tow truck company to break into your car if they do not have access to spare keys or if specialized tools are still required to resolve the issue.


The best way to prevent being locked out of your car is to always be aware of your keys and take the necessary precautions to avoid losing them. This might include investing in a locator device for your keychain, making extra copies for yourself and for trusted people, or simply being mindful of where your keys are located.

Let’s take a look at some other prevention methods.

Make sure you have a spare key

Make sure you have a spare key - Locked Out of Your Car

To avoid getting your keys locked in the car in the first place, it’s important to make sure you have a spare key. Keeping an extra key with you at all times is one of the best ways to make sure you never end up locked out.

You can make sure your spare is always easily accessible by storing it in your wallet or attaching it to a lanyard on a key ring, or even just keeping them both together so they don’t get separated. If having two copies of the same set isn’t feasible, consider keeping one on a family member’s keychain or leaving one with a neighbor who has access to your car.

It’s also important to use care when entering and exiting the vehicle. Close all doors (or windows) behind you and double-check that all keys have been removed from the vehicle before locking and leaving it unattended. Also, be mindful of who may have access to any physical sets of keys—try not to let young children play with them!

Keep your keys in a secure place

No matter how careful you are, it is easy to forget your keys in the car or accidentally lock them inside. To avoid potential lockouts, it is important to keep your keys organized and in a secure place while you are out and about.

One useful way to do this is to keep your keys on a keychain with an easily distinguishable tag or pattern that can easily be seen when it is dark outside. This will help prevent you losing your keys or leaving them behind in a car. It’s also a good idea to always check for your keys before leaving the car, which can help greatly reduce the chances of being locked out of your vehicle.

You should also be mindful of where you are storing any spare sets of keys, such as on your home keychain or in the glovebox of another car that may not be unlocked at all times.

Consider placing these spares in a secure location only reachable by one or two people so that they remain safe if lost. Setting up emergency contacts who have access to unlocked cars or spare sets of keys can also be helpful if you ever find yourself stranded due to forgetting them inside a locked vehicle.


how to unlock car

1. Can I use a shoestring to unlock my car?

While some people claim to have unlocked their car using a shoestring, it’s not a reliable method and may damage your car.

2. Can I break a car window to retrieve my keys?

Breaking a car window should only be used as a last resort when there is no other way to retrieve the keys. It’s important to use caution and protect yourself from broken glass.

If you happen to be in a situation where you have to break the window, read our guide on the pros and cons of buying used car parts.

3. Is it safe to use a slim jim to unlock my car?

If used improperly, a slim jim can damage your car’s locking mechanism. It’s recommended to have a professional locksmith handle the job.

4. Can I use my phone to unlock my car?

Some newer cars have a remote unlocking feature through a mobile app. If your car have this option, you are in luck.

5. Can I call the police to unlock my car?

The police may be able to assist you with unlocking your car, but it’s not their primary duty and may take a while for them to arrive.

6. How can I prevent getting locked out of my car in the future?

One way is to always keep a spare key with you or hide one in a secure location in your car.

7. Should I try to unlock my car myself or call a professional?

It’s recommended to call a professional locksmith to avoid damaging your car’s locking mechanism.

9. How much does it cost to have a professional unlock my car?

The cost varies depending on your location and the type of car you have. It’s best to contact a local locksmith for a quote.


In conclusion, being locked out of your car and unable to retrieve your keys can be a frustrating and stressful experience. However, with the right tools and techniques, you can safely and easily retrieve your keys and gain access to your vehicle. Whether you choose to use a coat hanger, a slim jim, or a professional locksmith, it’s important to prioritize safety and caution throughout the process.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully retrieve your keys without causing damage to your vehicle or risking injury to yourself. Remember to always have a backup plan in case of emergency, such as keeping a spare key with a trusted friend or family member, or using a keyless entry system.

With these tips and strategies, you can confidently tackle the challenge of being locked out of your car and get back on the road in no time.