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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

Locked Out Of Your Semi Truck? Here’s How To Get Back In

by Taylor March 30, 2022

Being on the road for a long time can make you forgetful. Maybe you accidentally locked your keys inside your semi. Or maybe you just misplaced them. It happens all the time.

So how do you get back in without losing time for your delivery? As it turns out, there are a few ways to get back into your semi truck without keys.

Something worth noting, however, is that some of these are pretty risky. This is mainly for two reasons: first, you risk damaging your truck, and second, they tend to require the use of your hands while standing near the door, which is difficult and dangerous unless you happen to have a good ladder on you.

The fact of the matter is that you should probably save time and call a semi truck locksmith near you. If you want to try to open the truck yourself, though, here are a few options.

Try these strategies to become your own semi truck locksmith

  1. Check Surroundings
  2. Shoelaces
  3. Coat Hanger
  4. Probe
  5. Pick The Lock
  6. Use Force
  7. Semi Truck Locksmith

1. Check Your Surroundings

Let’s get the obvious step out of the way: try looking around your semi, either for your misplaced keys or alternate points of entry. If you just locked your keys in the truck, there’s not much to look for, but if you’ve lost your keys, you should double- or triple-check the perimeter of your vehicle.

Once you know for sure that your keys are nowhere to be found, look at other ways you might be able to enter the tractor. Mainly, look at the sleeper cabin.

If your truck doesn’t have a sleeper cabin, you’re probably out of options with this step and should move on to the next one, but if it does, figure out ways you can enter. Some sleeper cabins have their own doors that someone might have left unlocked.

Your cabin might also have windows that you can potentially access. These tend to be pretty high off the ground, so you should get a ladder or something else sturdy to stand on before trying to open one of these windows from the outside. A fall from that height could result in some pretty nasty injuries.

2. Shoelaces/String

This only works if your semi has an upright lock, which most newer models do not. That said, if you have an upright lock (that is, a lock that can be unlocked when a little cylinder in the door is lifted), all you need is one of your shoelaces or some other type of string and a wedge.

First, make a slipknot in the middle of the shoelace. Tying one is easy: begin a regular knot, and once you have a second loop shape inside the main loop of the knot, instead of pulling the rest of the lace through, close the knot and keep the loop shape.

Wedge the door open just far enough to fit the shoelace through. Be careful, though, because wedging the door open can break the window or cause other damage.

Now stick the slipknot in the door and hold both sides of the shoelace. Steadily bring it down until you have the slipknot over the upright lock. Tie the knot around it and then close the loop so that it’s tied around the lock. Use the shoelace to yank the lock up and unlock the door.

3. Coat Hanger

You don’t necessarily need a coat hanger. All you need is something sturdy and slim.

There are two things you can do with a coat hanger that you’ve slipped into your semi: you can grab any locked keys or hit the unlock button.

If your semi has a remote unlock feature and you locked the key fob inside, you can use your coat hanger to grab the end of the fob. Pull it towards the driver’s seat until the semi automatically unlocks.

Otherwise, you can use the coat hanger to either lift an upright lock or, in more modern trucks, press the unlock button on the inside of the semi. You can also use it to roll down an unlocked window and then unlock your semi manually.

To get the coat hanger (or whatever else) inside the truck, you should use a wedge device to open the door slightly. Be careful because you can accidentally break a window doing this improperly.

4. Wedge and Probe

Now we’re starting to get into very risky territory. You seriously risk damaging your semi if you try this without knowing what you’re doing. This technique is best if you really can’t contact a semi truck locksmith.

Also, keep in mind that this only works on trucks with upright locks – that is, if your semi has a little cylinder sticking out near the bottom of the door’s window as a lock.

You can use a slim jim for this, but if you don’t have one on hand, you can use any bent, probe-like object. Coat hangers work for this, too.

First, stick the wedge between the weather stripping and the bottom of the window. Next, carefully slide your probe in there. Try not to damage any of the delicate electronics inside the door.

Eventually, the probe should hook on a locking mechanism. You’ll know because the upright cylinder should start jiggling around when you touch it. Hook the probe around the mechanism, and pull it upwards. This should unlock the door.

5. Lock Picking

Lock picking is difficult and takes a lot of skill and experience. If you don’t have a professional auto lock pick set on you, you probably won’t be able to pick your lock. You could also damage the inner mechanisms or the picks that you use. The truth is, semi truck locksmiths are best for this job.

Semi doors are high up, and you should be careful, as you can’t use your hands while picking. Find something to steady yourself on before attempting this, as it could be dangerous.

Before picking, you need to determine what type of locks you have. Does the key have teeth on both sides? If so, you’re probably looking at a double-sided wafer lock. If the teeth are only on one side, it’s only single-sided. And if you can’t remember, you’re going to have to feel around inside.

To pick locks, you need both a pick and a tension wrench. Both are small, thin objects that are small enough to be inserted into the lock mechanism. The tension wrench is L-shaped, and, when inserted, you must apply a precise amount of turning pressure to simulate the turning of a key.

After applying pressure to the tension wrench, stick the pick inside and lift the wafers. If it’s double-sided, you’ll need to manipulate wafers on both the bottom and top of the lock.

Don’t forget about the less effective but much easier technique of raking. Instead of a pick, you use a squiggly rake and essentially “brush” the wafers inside the lock vigorously until they happen to fall in the right place.

Once all of the wafers are in the right place, you can pull the door open. Ensure that you didn’t damage your truck’s lock, or it might not open even with the correct key.

6. Destructive Entry

Of course, if you’re in a situation where doing damage doesn’t matter, you can always try to force your way into the tractor. The damage to your truck might end up being more expensive than calling a semi truck locksmith, but if you’re desperate, it’s a viable option.

Windshield glass is designed not to break. This way, in an accident, you don’t get skewered with glass. Breaking the windshield can also, obviously, render it difficult to drive.

Your best bet is any window you have around the sleeper. These will be harder to climb into, so try to get a ladder. Back windows tend to be made out of tempered glass, which is easier to break and creates duller shards. That being said, you should still be careful not to cut yourself.

If you don’t have a sleeper, you can probably break a rear window. If you have no rear window or don’t have a window on your sleeper, your only real option is to try to break the side windows. These are also tempered glass. The passenger side window is a better idea. That way, you don’t have to deal with as much glass while driving.

In general, be very careful. Broken glass can become powdered and get into your lungs. You can also get microabrasions without knowing and get an infection. All kinds of injuries can occur if you’re not careful. Generally, don’t mess with broken glass unless you have to.

7. Semi Truck Locksmith

Calling a professional semi truck locksmith to help you with your semi truck lockout is your best bet. Semi truck locksmiths have all the equipment to solve your problem as non-destructively as possible. They also have the skills necessary to accomplish this.

If you own your semi, a locksmith can help you get a new key for it or replace the fob as well if the key or fob’s permanently lost. They can also help you get duplicate keys.

Breaking into your own semi truck can be both costly and dangerous. Vehicles were not meant to be easy to break into, after all. Paying a semi truck locksmith will be cheaper than paying for repairs to your semi windows.

Any attempts to get around the lock must be performed with great care, or you can permanently damage the locking mechanism. If that happens, you won’t be able to get in even if you have the right key. You’ll have to pay for damage repairs, which could take a lot longer to get through than simply calling a semi truck locksmith to unlock the door.

Locksmiths have experience opening car doors with their tools. They know how to do it delicately while causing the least amount of damage possible. Don’t try to do this delicate work yourself.


Is there a locksmith for semi trucks near me?

United Locksmith is a 24-hour mobile emergency locksmith service. We’re always on the move and are present in many major cities around the country. Check if we’re in your area. We can be there in no time to solve your semi truck lockout situation.

Our semi truck locksmiths are trained to handle any lockout you’re facing. Call us, and we can open your semi truck for you.

I locked the keys in my semi truck! What should I do?

If you have a wedge, you can potentially force the door open slightly and use a hook, like a coat hanger or a long strip of plastic, to reel your keys towards you. Know that you need to make a pretty big gap to accomplish this, and you might accidentally damage your semi truck door or break the window trying to widen the gap.

You should probably call a semi truck locksmith to unlock your truck for you. You don’t risk damaging your truck by accident. Professionals know how to unlock your semi without you needing to pay for repairs afterward.

I’m stuck in a semi truck lockout! What’s the best way out?

The best way to get out of a semi truck lockout is to call a professional to unlock your truck for you. Most methods for unlocking without a key risk causing damage. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s pretty easy to leave a permanent mark.


There are a few ways to get out of a semi truck lockout, although none of them are particularly practical.

When you’re on the road, and you need to meet shipping deadlines, the thought of calling a semi truck locksmith and waiting for them to help can seem inefficient. You’ll probably be desperate for a way to get back into your truck without having to waste so much time.

The truth is, you’ll end up wasting far more time if you accidentally damage your truck. When it comes down to it, calling a professional semi truck locksmith to help with your semi truck lockout is a significantly better option.

Don’t risk the damage of dealing with the lockout yourself. Semi trucks are expensive pieces of equipment and, in many cases, the source of your livelihood. And damaging the truck you’re driving for commercial purposes is unprofessional and won’t look good to your employers.
You don’t need to take the risk of trying to open your semi yourself. Call a professional semi truck locksmith, and you’ll be back in your truck in no time. And then take steps to make sure you never get locked out again.

Category: Automotive, Car Keys

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