If you’re locked out of your car, you can break into manual or automatic doors using DIY tools or gain entry through the trunk.
While breaking into your own car may sound like trouble,
finding a reliable locksmithcould be difficult. On top of that, even if you’re fortunate enough to locate a locksmith, they may not have immediate availability or you may decide it’s not worth the cost.
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DIY door unlocking—manual vs. automatic
If you find yourself locked out of your car, it’s important to use the appropriate technique for the type of lock the vehicle has—either manual or automatic. Failure to use the right method can result in damaging the doors or locks and leave you in a worse position than where you started.
A manual lock will have fewer overall wires and parts that prevent someone from trying to unlock the door from outside the vehicle. Manual lock cars also have less sophisticated anti-theft systems, which means you won’t have to worry about any blaring alarms. Another plus is that the lock is usually easier to reach when wedging open the door.
Anyone who has lost or locked their remote-controlled key in the car knows how frustrating automatic locks can be. Automatic locks can make cars more secure with accompanying alarm systems—an already stressful situation can become even more tense if your attempt to disengage the lock causes the car alarm to go off.
Unlock a door with manual locks
If you have a door with manual locks, you’ll have to wedge the door open to manually unlock the vehicle. While it’s not necessarily easy, you can open a manual lock door as long as you are able to pull up on the locking pin once your tool gains entry.
Lasso/hook method for disengaging a manual lock
Step 1: Find a tool that is thin enough to get between the top of the door and the body of the vehicle, but is strong enough that it won’t snap—try a ruler, putty knife, or a doorstop.
Step 2: Work on the opening opposite of the door hinge. Firmly wedge the tool into the gap between the door and the car, pressing it with the heel of your hand. Once you get some leverage, pull open the door with your fingers to make more space for your unlocking tool to slide in.
Step 3: Work the tool down into the car until you can see it through the window. Be careful not to tear the weather stripping.
Step 4: Once the door is propped open, you can use a hook or loop to grab onto the locking pin.
Step 5: Insert the hook or loop through the gap, hook the locking pin, and pull up to disengage the lock.
You may need to reshape and reorient your tool a few times to get the best angle for unlocking. It may take a few tries depending on the type of vehicle and its locking system, but persistence will usually pay off as long as you have the time to work at it.
Slim jim method for disengaging a manual lock
You can use a lockout tool, commonly called a slim jim, to open a door with manual locks. Note that this method is not recommended for doors with automatic locks or windows because of the added risk of damaging the wiring. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Find a slim jim—if you don’t have one you can fashion one out of a coat hanger or other long and thin piece of metal. Straighten out the metal and bend the end into a hook. If the metal seems weak, you can double the hook to reinforce the shape.
Step 2: Peel back the weatherstripping from the window to access the space between the window and the car door. Carefully and gently insert the tool, hook end first, between the window and the weatherstripping.
Step 3: Lower the tool further into the gap and start feeling for the locking pin. Generally, you can find the mechanism two inches below the bottom edge of the window.
Step 4: Open the lock by sliding the hook back towards the rear of the car and pulling up once you feel the hook grip. Now you can open your door!
Like the lasso/hook method, the slim jim method may also take you a few tries. Keep trying different positioning and adjust your motions until you feel and hear the lock disengage.
Key Takeaway You can use a lasso, hook, or slim jim method to open your car door if it has a manual lock. It may take some time and patience to find the right angle.
Unlock a door with automatic locks
Unlocking an automatic lock door isn’t much different from opening a manual lock door. The technique for opening the door is the same, but you may have to be a little more nimble to avoid setting off the alarm.
Step 1: First and foremost, identify how the locks are activated. Check to see if the unlock button is located on the central console or the driver’s side.
Step 2: Find a lasso or hook tool. The locking mechanism may have a switch you can easily press down on or it may require a hook to engage the switch.
As with any type of car door lock, trial-and-error is the only way to find what works best. In a pinch, you can try using your car’s antenna to unlock a push-button automatic lock.
Gain entry through the trunk
If your attempts at gaining entry through the door have proven unfruitful, there’s a chance you can get into your car through the trunk—so long as it’s unlocked. Here’s how:
Step 1: Open the trunk and find the emergency cord. It’s usually located on the inside of the trunk’s door or the roof of the trunk.
Step 2: Pull the cord, which will disengage the passenger seats.
Step 3: Push the seats down and crawl forward into the cabin. You can then unlock the doors manually from the inside.
Get professional help
If you can’t get into your car using these methods, you may have to resort to professional help. There are a few circumstances that require a professional locksmith to help you get into your car.
If you have a broken key, do not try to shimmy it into the keyhole. Doing so could result in getting your key jammed into the lock. It’s better to wait for a locksmith’s help.
If you lost your key or have a faulty transponder key, you’ll also need a professional’s help to rekey your car.
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How much does it cost to hire a locksmith to unlock a car?
The average cost to hire a locksmith to unlock your car ranges from $75 to $150.
Can I call the police to unlock my car?
Generally in a legitimate emergency (such as a child trapped inside your vehicle) the police will respond to the scene and unlock your car. In a non-emergency situation, you should call a locksmith or towing service.