A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.
Posted On by Ralph
The first time I locked my keys in my trunk, I had not yet learned about the intricacies of car locks. So you rest assured, you do not need to be an auto locksmith to understand these tips. I locked my keys in my trunk and got it open, and there is a good chance you can do the same.
Of course, certain cars have security features that make it near impossible for non-professionals to open a locked trunk with the key locked inside. However, I will still share how to get keyed out of a locked trunk in the more extreme cases so you can understand these processes.
How to get keyed out of a locked trunk include:
As of September 1, 2001, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began requiring all vehicles to be made with a trunk release latch. This decision is a safety measure intended to keep people from inadvertently locking themselves in the trunk.
Most modern cars unlock the trunk by clicking the unlock button twice. Older vehicles will have a lever on the left-hand side of the driver’s seat. Other trunk release locations include the center console, the driver side of the dashboard, and inside the glove compartment.
For some cars, the trunk release requires the vehicle to be on. This may be a basic feature or the result of the car deadlocking. Without these security features, the common reason the most common trunk won’t open from the interior release is the assembly is damaged.
How to get keys out of a locked trunk could require as few tools as a shoelace or wire hanger. These tools are to reach through the door and manipulate interior locks. Once inside, you can hit your trunk release. Expert car lockout tools include wedges, slim jims, and lock picks.
When you are looking for how to get keys out of a locked trunk, understand this is rarely possible for amateurs. Specialty tools such as jiggle keys and tryout keys, which are like bump keys for cars, are often required. If those do not work, the trunk will need to be picked or drilled.
Certain vehicles have high-security features to prevent any unlocking via keyway manipulation or direct interaction with lock switches. This is often referred to as deadlock and requires a small hole to be made in the trunk so a locksmith can access the trunk lock actuator.
When I locked my keys in my trunk the first time, I made sure to go around and check all the doors to be sure I was locked out. But with modern cars, this is an even better idea because of new features to prevent the trunk from locking while keys are detected in the trunk.
The type of sensor detection that can determine whether keys are in the trunk will only be present in cars with keyless entry/ignition. If you have these features and the car is still locked, don’t worry about your key fob not working because they do not all have these sensors.
The first thing I do when I move into a new place or get a new car is to assign a spare key to a trusted individual. If I don’t have a spare, I make a duplicate key. When I locked my keys in my trunk, I was still young enough to be living at home, and my parents had access to my extra car key.
If you have a roommate, wife, domestic partner, or someone with keys to your home, they do not even need to carry the spare car key. Simply tell them where the key is when you call them for help. The problem with this method is if they are unavailable or you cannot wait for them.
As soon as I locked my keys in my trunk, I got tunnel vision. I could not immediately see that if I could just get inside the car, I could pull the trunk release. Then once I had this epiphany, I was still left wondering, how am I going to open a car with the keys locked inside?
The solution that I used when I locked my keys in my trunk was the string method, where a shoelace is tied into a slip knot and slipped between the door and door frame. The knot is then looped around an upright post lock, tightened, and pulled up to open the door.
You can use the links in this section to find a way of opening your car that works. What I did when I locked my keys in my trunk may not work for you. But once you have found something that works and your door is open, all you have to do is use your trunk release.
The time I had to figure out how to get keys out of a locked trunk via the pass-through, it was a mid-2000s VW bug. Everything on this car broke at some point. The windows, doors, convertible top, transmission, and trunk release all broke. Not my car, but it was a pain.
Anyway, to spare the ego of others, we’ll say I locked my keys in my trunk. I get the door open, and the trunk still won’t open. Luckily there is a pass-through to the trunk in the back seat. A pass-through is a hatch that opens to give you access to the trunk from inside the car.
With the pass-through open, I can see the trunk release latch mandatory for all modern vehicles. In this case, it was made of plastic that glowed in the dark, so it was hard to miss. I was able to grab the latch with the same long reach tool I used to open the car door.
If every other method for how to get keys out of a locked trunk has been unsuccessful, you should find a car unlock service near you. The last time I locked my keys in my trunk, there were not all of these modern anti-theft features, but now cars are harder to get inside without a key.
In terms of who to call when your keys are locked in the car, my advice would be to see if United Locksmith services your neighborhood. But no matter who you call, be aware that some technicians do not provide locked keys in trunk services for every vehicle.
The hesitancy of certain locksmiths to work with certain makes and models is because drilling may be required. Drilling causes minor damage to the vehicle, so many customers reject the service until they can receive a second opinion. Refused service is something many mobile locksmiths try to preemptively avoid.
When I locked my keys in my trunk, I did not have to resort to lock picking. This is a skill I developed for my profession. But there are many lock picking hobbyists these days, so it might be something you have experience with. If not, this may be a method your locksmith uses.
A brief overview of how to pick locks is you are moving the internal components to the heights a key would while applying rotational tension to the cylinder, so said components stay in place. Different cars will use different lock types, which may require unique tools. For example, Jaguar uses disk detainer locks.
Even if you do have the correct automotive lock picks, you may encounter the issue of the trunk not having a keyed cylinder. If gaining entry into the trunk is not possible by entering through another door, then forget about how to get keys out of a locked trunk with lock picking.
Out of all the times I locked my keys in my trunk, I never had to personally use the drilling method. This is something I learned later as a part of my career. I do not recommend that anyone without training attempt to open their trunk via drilling.
With that said, it is important to understand what this process entails and why it is necessary. How to get keys out of a locked trunk with the drilling method can be similar to drilling a door lock. However, there are cases where it shares more in common with opening a locked safe.
If the lock needs to be drilled, car door lock cylinder replacement is an option. But for cars that have deadlocked, the hole will need to be drilled into the trunk itself to access the lock actuator. This leaves a small hole in the car, which can be covered by the license plate.
If I locked my keys in my trunk today, I would confirm I was locked in an attempt to get a hold of a spare key. I would probably try a few methods of unlocking the car so I could access the trunk release or the pass-through. But with the security of modern cars, I would likely end up calling a car lockout service.
To find the best lockout service near you, make sure you confirm that the technician can work with your make, model, and year. If their proposed method for how to get your keys out of your locked trunk seems to align with what we have described, you know you are in good hands.
To take away some of the guesswork of getting the best car locksmith, see if United Locksmith services your city. And if you have a general question or story of how you got your keys out of your locked trunk, I’d love to read it in the comments section below!