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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

Escaping The Car Lockout: 5 Car Lockout Scenarios You Might Find Yourself In

by Hugo Reed February 22, 2016

If you have ever been stuck in a lockout, you know just how frustrating and time-consuming it can be. There are many unforeseen circumstances that can throw you in the midst of such precarious situations and none of them are exactly pleasant. Let’s take a look at some of the common car lockouts that occur and we’ll show you how to bypass each and every one. After all, we are here to help you out, even if it’s to help you escape from a car lockout.

1. Losing Your Keys At Home

Today is Monday, and your body is gradually recovering from having an awesome weekend hanging out with your friends. You guys don’t get to see each other as much as you used to, so you cherish every moment of it and have fun. Well, the fun’s over now and you have to get back to work. You’re having a slow morning so if everything works out ideally you should arrive at work just on time. Going through your regular routine helps shake off sleep: shower, get dressed, eat breakfast and grab everything you need for work before you walk out the door.

After all this, you finally start to feel like you’re awake, maybe Monday won’t be so bad after all. Silently, you’re wishing that the traffic on the road won’t be so bad either because you’re on the verge of being late, but if you get there right on time then you’re not late (gray areas). Let’s do this! You’re standing outside now, hands rummaging through your pockets/purse/backpack/ trying to find your keys. “I know I grabbed them after I had breakfast”, you say to yourself, but did you?

You look at the time and see that you’re running late. In addition to this, you can’t find your car keys. Like any sane person would, you run back into your house/apartment frantically looking for where you put them last. Where did you put them? Where could they be? After searching and scouring through every plausible location, you resign yourself to the fact that maybe, just maybe, you have lost your car keys. The frustration begins to set in, gradually, and then all at once. By now, you’re late for work so you have to call in and say you’re going to be late and that’s not a good look. Breathe In, breathe out. Try and stay calm because there is a solution to your problem.

2. Losing Your Keys at Work

You have been waiting for this day all week, practically salivating at the thought of it, and you deserve the fact that it is finally here. No one can take that away from you. You worked all week to make it to Friday and it’s finally here. Today wasn’t a bad day at all either. Work was great and you got the chance to grab coffee with that attractive person on your break. The wave you’re on right now isn’t crashing anytime soon. It’s time to go home and get the weekend started right. Goodbye work, see you on Monday.

You feel triumphant walking out of those doors, you feel unstoppable and seeing your car in the parking lot ready to whisk you away to freedom lifts your mood higher than it already is. Time to go! Your hands reach into your pocket/purse/briefcase and pull up nothing but air. Everything abruptly slows down, that high of excitement you were on ebbs away faster than it came, and you’re left with the stark realization that your weekend has come to a halt.

The next logical step is to retrace your steps and try and figure out where you left your keys. They’re not in your office or the break room or even the bathroom. The plans you had of starting your weekend off right slowly fade into oblivion as it dawns on you that you might be in the parking lot for a while because you’ve lost your car keys.

3. Locking Your Keys In The Car

Your job is of the utmost importance to the foundations of love, without you, people couldn’t be married. You’re the officiating minister and you have been ordained by God and state to bind people together for life (as depressing as that sounds). Today is another day on the job where you get to enjoy the blossoming of young love and you want to be there on time to make sure the wedding goes off without a hitch. While driving, you realize you need to stop to get some more gas and also probably grab a quick gift to give to the happy couple and use the bathroom while you’re at it. Nothing worse than needing to go in the middle of someone’s vows.

You pull up to the closest gas station you can find and park next to the first available pump. Stepping out of your car, you make sure you press the manual lock button because you pride yourself on safety, and you’d rather not make it easy on anyone who is trying to break into your car. You take about three steps before you realize something is wrong. The sound of the familiar jingle of car keys doesn’t happen with each of those steps. Walk forward one more step…no sound. Ok, walk back one step…still no sound. You slowly turn around and walk up to your car window, not wanting to look inside for fear of what you might find there.

There your keys are, resting serenely on the driver seat waiting for you to grab them. The only problem is, you locked the car door. Now your keys are locked in your car. Don’t freak out, I mean, of course, the wedding is drawing closer and you are a vital part of it, but don’t freak out. Breathe in, breathe out and calm down. A thought hits you like a brick, and your spirits rise for just a brief second, you have a spare key! Oh, nevermind, it’s in the glove box. Now you can freak out just a little.

4. Locking Your Keys In The Car While The Engine is Running

Supporting local businesses is a part of who you are. You firmly believe in the foundations of entrepreneurship and hard work, and so you strive to support establishments with these ideals as much as you can. This is the reason why you are currently in your car en route to this rather outstanding taco shop at midnight. See what I mean by hard work? How many establishments are still open at midnight? Before you know it you’re there and the only thing on your mind are those carne asada tacos you could smell a mile away. Staying warm is also on your mind because it’s really cold outside. You park and decide to leave the car running so that the heat can continue circulating while you order and wait on your tacos.

Muscle memory kicks in as you put the car in park, grab your wallet and lock the car manually so no one can make off with it. As you step out and the door closes behind you, a thought occurs. It was probably sparked by the quiet yet deafening sound of the door closing. Your car is on, it’s still running, which implies that your keys are in the car. That’s not really a problem, except you remember you locked the car as a force of habit. It’s after midnight, the air is filled with the smell of carne asada tacos. It’s cold outside and you are locked out of your car while the engine purrs happily in the background. These things happen.

5. Breaking Your Key In The Lock

Bob is a rather infuriating person. He may not realize it but he is, and you gave him a piece of your mind. Good for you! He deserves to know how you feel, maybe that will teach him to trivialize your feelings. Regardless of what you said, he is an infuriating person, and as such you are quite frustrated and on the verge of being angry. You “woosah” to yourself a few times to calm down even though it has very little effect. Well, it’s time to go, the sooner you get in your car and drive away, the faster you’ll calm down.

You can see your car from the other side of the parking lot and that helps relax you a little bit, but you’re still mad at Bob. As you continue to walk to your car, you pull out your keys and press the unlock button on your keys to open the car before you get to it. It normally gives off a little *chirp*chirp* when you hit the button. This time around, it greets you with silence. That’s perfect, Bob is annoying, and now so is your car. It decides today is the ideal day for the battery in your key fob to die. Fine, you’ll do this the old school way and use they key to open the door.

Inserting the key into the locking mechanism feels completely foreign to you since it’s not something you do very often.  You turn the key and you’re greeted with a lot of resistance that shouldn’t be there, but then again how would you know? You hardly use the key to open the door. In that moment all your issues pile on top of each other and you would really like to catch a break: from Bob, from your dead car remote and from the traditional key not turning in the lock. Is your car key not working?You turn the key harder as your emotions rise and ultimately hear a resounding click. Eureka! You managed to do it. Wait, actually, you didn’t. You just broke your key off in the lock. Oops.

Escaping The Car Lockout


Car lockouts are extremely common occurrences, and they happen a lot more often than people would think. There is no common denominator for car lockouts apart from the fact that you cannot get into your car. The reasons for this can arise from any number of varying situations, you might have been distracted and forgotten your keys somewhere or you could have broken key in the lock of the car door. The first step you should take with any car lockout is to calm down and then analyze the situation. It is KEY (get it? pun intended) that you are calm and collected, or else you may rush or overreact and cause lasting damage to your car. Now, let’s get you back in that car.

Spare Keys & Double Checks

After you have entered a zen state of relaxation, ask yourself “Do I have a spare key?” If you happen to have one, then your day just got a whole lot better. Spare keys are an essential part of any key-lock mechanism. They come in handy in situations where the original key is missing or compromised. In the instance that you do not have one, it would be best to make a mental note to get one after you have jumped this current hurdle, but I digress.

If you have a spare key and it is accessible, then you can grab it and be on your way. However, in some instances, car owners leave their spare keys within the car. Most drivers that do this are known to place them in the glove box along with other important things. (I’m guilty of this as well.) The fact that the spare key is in the car doesn’t worsen your plight because there is still a chance you can get them out of the car without having to do too much work.

Most cars lock all the doors simultaneously when the lock button on the key fob is pressed, however, for some older models only the driver’s door is originally locked. Many people are oblivious to this fact and even though in most situations it may leave your car vulnerable it just might be your saving grace on this fateful day. Ensure that you check that all the doors on your car are locked, because if one of them is open, then you have access to your spare key and you will be free to go from the lockout.

If not, then check to see if the trunk of your car is a viable access point. This is more typical for modern cars that have foldable back seats that give you access to the car’s interior. If this solution works out for you, then you are in luck and you should be able to get to work in no time, or leave work and get your weekend started. Keep in mind that these solutions are not exclusive to the scenarios listed above and that they can be adapted and applied to varying lockout scenarios with appropriate modifications.

The Art of DIY

In the instance that none of the above solutions are successful in helping you escape your car lockout, then we’re going to have to get super creative. When most people are locked out of their car their default action is to call a car locksmith, and this almost always because they are not aware of any other entry methods they can use to get back into the driver’s seat. Car locksmiths can be your best friend in that moment, and they are an invaluable asset to the industry. However, in some instances, you may need a quick and cost effective solution that will have you on your way in no time.

A quick analysis of your immediate surroundings can give you the tools you need for the job. There are several tools you can use to open your car (depending on the lock mechanism of your car) and these range from shoelaces to coat hangars. In the case that you do not have some of these materials available you can make a quick trip to the store to grab a few things that will come in handy. This article goes into extreme detail on how to escape a lockout in spectacular D-I-Y fashion. These tips are priceless because sometimes it can take a car locksmith a good deal of time to reach you and time is a precious commodity so we’d rather not waste it. From fashioning a slim jim, to using your shoelaces or even a wedge to get back into your car, D-I-Y tips are something people love because they are generally speedy and cost effective.

Call for Help

However, in some instances, D-I-Y tips do not do the trick. This could be because your car is modern and retrofitted with amazing security to prevent burglars from gaining access to it, and in this case, it prevents you from getting into it as well. In other cases, which are fewer and far between, the D-I-Y tips don’t work simply because some people are bad at using their hands. (We understand, it’s not for everybody.)

The best option at the time will be to call for help, and you can either call a professional locksmith that provides top notch service or you can call other special providers like AAA. Each of these is an equally good option, and they are all well equipped to unlock your car for you. Their price ranges vary depending on what you may need. In some instances, you may need a spare key in addition to your car being opened for you, whereas in others you merely need the door unlocked so you can gain access to your key or your spare key. Regardless of what you may need from anyone offering these services, make sure you do an adequate amount of research to see which option is better for you, both in the moment and in the long run.

All the options listed above, can work out in your favor and help you escape a car lockout. However, with the last scenario that was listed, having a spare key or attempting to unlock the car by unconventional means, only helps you in a partial manner. If you can unlock your door by one of the more unconventional means, you will still be left with the issue of a broken key (which you can’t drive with) and the component that is still stuck in the lock. For instances like this, and those even remotely similar, your best option is to call a car locksmith. They have trusted professionals like us, who are there to help you get back into your car and to ensure that no further damage is caused to your car.

Things of Key Importance

Whenever you experience a lockout it is imperative that you pay attention to your location and the things around you. You will not always be lucky enough to be locked out right outside your office or your home, where you are most likely surrounded by familiar environment and people that you know and trust. Sometimes, car lockouts can happen in the most random of locations (gas stations, side streets, a parking lot at a concert). You need to be aware of who is around in order to prevent any further damage from happening to your car or worse yet, theft.

When you’re stuck in a car lockout sometimes you can get away with leaving your car unattended. If you lost the key either at home or at work (even then we wouldn’t advise doing that), but you absolutely cannot leave your car unattended if you lock your keys in your car. This encompasses all scenarios that involve your keys being in the car. This can happen when your keys slip out of your pocket onto the driver seat, if you forget them in the car or if you lock the car while the keys are in the ignition and the car is on.

Leaving your car unattended in situations like or similar to what was described above is like spray painting a big sign on your car that screams “STEAL ME, PLEASE!” This is one of the easiest scenarios you can leave a burglar (expert or amateur) and best believe, they will take advantage of it. If you have to wander off to buy some tools to help you get into your car or to find a locksmith that can help you rectify the situation, make sure you have someone you know and trust watching your car for you.

If you’re a lone wolf, then the chances of having someone you trust around in the event of a lockout are slim to none, and you should invest in a steering wheel lock. This will ensure that even if you do have to leave your car unattended it will be provided an extra layer of security.

Personal Tips & Tricks


Remember earlier on, when I kept reminding you not to get frustrated? Yeah, well, the reason behind that was simply that I have been in situations like this on many occasions. I’ve been locked out of my car when trying to get to work, trying to leave work and once on a road trip with a very pretty girl. In case, you’re wondering, she didn’t want to go on another road trip with me after that.

In all of those instances, my frustration did nothing but deter me and make it immensely harder to think straight, which is why I stressed in the beginning that it is important to stay calm and keep your wits about you when you experience a car lockout.

Some of the tips described above helped and some didn’t because they were not suited for the car I have. For instance, the tip about checking all the doors does not apply to my car because it’s a coupe. It only has two doors and they both lock simultaneously so that ship sailed before I even made it to the dock. One tip that did help me, though, was the one about the coat hangers, which was explained in this in-depth article. However, on the road trip, I didn’t have any of these items in close proximity to me and I had to resort to calling on a car locksmith to help get me back into my car.

My experience with car lockouts has made me extremely paranoid about the location of my keys at all times, but it also made me more appreciative of the many things I took for granted. Like the use of a spare key. I cannot stress the importance of having one made, it is something any good car locksmith can do for you. Make sure you do your research and check their prices to ensure that you are getting the best service for the amount of money you are spending. In lieu of this, these here are some personal tips and tricks I do to make car lockouts easier, in case I have to go through it again.

  • Even though some people have spare keys, the problem tends to be that when they need it the most, it is inaccessible. I realized this was a trend with a lot of car owners, including myself. I like wearing jewelry, to me it’s more of personal representation than a fashion statement. So I incorporated my spare key into my jewelry because I never forget to wear them. I hooked a spare key onto a chain that dangles from my neck every day. This way even if I do lose my original set of keys when I’m at home or I’m at work, or even if I lock my keys inside the car I always have a way to get to them.
  • Another good way to ensure you never have to worry about experiencing a car lockout is to have multiple copies of your key in the two places you spend the most time. For instance, I have one copy of my car keys located in my home at all times and another copy that is located in my office. This makes it nearly impossible for me to suffer a car lockout when I lose my original set while I’m at work or at home. It also makes it easier if you happen to lose them on the go, and you’re not too far away from either of these locations.
  • In addition to the things listed above, it is smart to give someone that you really trust an additional spare key, if you have one available. This option works best if that person is in close proximity to your home or your office. This could be used in lieu of the options listed above. It simply gives you an additional key that is close by in case you need to use it. It saves you the time of waiting for a locksmith and the money you would have to pay for one to arrive.
  • Even though I have a car key fob, from time to time, I use the traditional method to unlock my car doors so I can gauge if they are working correctly. This probably sounds trivial, but trust me, it works! Most people only use their car keys to start their car, and even that is gradually fading away with the advent of the “push-to-start” technology. Turning the key in the lock of the door every now and then helps you know if the key or the lock need to be upgraded soon. This is something car owners with older models need to pay close attention to.

It is always best to have a backup plan and to make sure that your backup plan has a backup plan. Essentially, you can never be too careful. Car lockouts are never planned (unless you just enjoy being locked out of your car), and they can happen at the most uncanny of times. The unpredictable nature of these occurrences makes having multiple plans a necessity, you don’t have to take my word for it but I hope you don’t regret being locked out of your car one day. For all you know you could ruin someone’s dream wedding or botch your first date beyond compare, but love is easy to find right?

Category: Automotive, Car Keys, Lock Humor

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