Car unlock service

Ever been locked out of your car? It’s no doubt a frustrating experience, and one you’d probably much rather avoid. Imagine this: you’re about to head off to work or to spend an afternoon with some friends, when you reach for your keys and find that they’re gone. What do you do?

Your first instinct might be to dig a little deeper in your pockets or your purse, hoping to find where those keys might be hiding, but to no avail. Once it’s dawned on you that your keys are gone and you’re locked out of your car, it’s time to act.

In most situations such as this, or if you’ve accidentally locked your keys inside of your car, your best bet is to contact a local auto locksmith. We work with over 400 qualified locksmiths from coast to coast that can help if you’re ever locked out of your car.

How car lockouts happen

There are many ways that people can end up locked out of their cars which auto locksmiths deal with every day. Here are some of the most common:

  • The keys have been locked inside the car – most commonly they have been shut inside the trunk or on a seat
  • The car keys have been lost or stolen
  • The car keys are broken or damaged
  • The car door latch is stuck and won’t open
  • The transponder chip inside the key has been damaged and needs to be replaced
  • The lock on the car door has broken.

Locked out of car

Table of contents:

What to do if you’re locked out of your car

If you’re ever locked out of your car, the most important thing to do in the moment is to not panic. Whatever you do, don’t smash your window to get back into the car unless it is an emergency, e.g. child or pet is locked inside the vehicle and emergency assistance cannot arrive soon enough.

Furthermore, try to avoid using old fashioned methods of breaking into your own car such as sticking an untangled coat hanger down the window. This may have worked on older vehicles, but it most often won’t work on any vehicle made in the past 20 years or so.

The first thing you should do is call 911 if it’s an emergency, such as if a child is locked inside of the car. If the situation is not an emergency, you should contact a car locksmith to help you regain entry to the vehicle.

What is an automotive locksmith?

Auto locksmiths are specialists in everything to do with car, van, SUV and truck keys and locks. They have had specialist training in how to unlock doors, and if necessary, repair and replace keys or fix broken locks.

In addition, auto locksmiths are mobile and can come out to you wherever you may be; in under an hour in an emergency, whatever the time of day or night, 365 days a year. Their vans are fully equipped with every tool they need to be able to unlock the vehicle without damaging it.

Auto locksmiths can often get into your vehicle and retrieve your keys within minutes thanks to their expertise and specialist equipment, although this can depend on how complex the locking system is – in general, the newer the vehicle, the higher tech the locking system tends to be.

Then, if needs be, the auto locksmith can cut and program a new key for you while you wait – they have the equipment to be able to create replacement car keys for most vehicles on US roads today – which means you will be able to get on with your day in next to no time.

The most common types of car keys

You will find that there are a wide variety of car key types in use, ranging from the straightforward type of key that has been around for years, to high-tech electronic gadgets for the newer, more technologically complex locks. In fact, there are five main key types:

  • Standard keys – a traditional, physical key that operates the locking mechanism. These are generally only found in pre-1995 cars.
  • Sidewinder keys – have a complex pattern cut into both sides, and are inserted into the door lock and the ignition. These began to overtake standard physical keys in the early 1990s.
  • Transponder keys – contain an RFID chip in the key’s head that matches the ignition of your individual car. These were introduced with the GM Corvette in 1986 as the VATS system and became widespread until being discontinued in 2003, although almost all modern cars use modern variations of VATS today.
  • Switchblade keys – a button is pressed to unlock the doors and then a key is inserted into the ignition.
  • Smart proximity – this key unlocks the car doors automatically when you are near to it. The engine is started with a push button.

Hiring a professional automotive locksmith vs other methods

One of the first things that a lot of drivers do when they discover that they’re locked out of their car is to call their dealership. Most of the time, dealerships do not offer roadside assistance so you’ll have to have the vehicle towed to the dealership. Moreover, many dealerships do not carry a large stock of spare keys for your specific vehicle model, so it may need to be ordered in. All in all, this tends to be an extremely expensive way of regaining access to your vehicle.

The cost of hiring a locksmith near you can vary quite a bit, but generally it is the fastest and most convenient way of unlocking your door and getting the service you need. Since the locksmith will come to you with their vehicle and equipment, they should be able to provide you with a replacement set of car keys in less than an hour as well if you’ve lost your keys.

The main things you should be looking for in an automotive locksmith are:

  • Price: although prices can vary, you should always get a no-obligation quote over the phone from your locksmith.
  • Dependability: do you need same-day services? Make sure your locksmith is able to give you a good estimate on their arrival time.
  • Trust: small and independent locksmiths tend to offer better prices and service than franchises, but there is always the risk that you’re dealing with a scammer. Choose trustworthy, vetted and approved locksmiths by using Auto Locksmiths.
  • Service: always make sure that your preferred locksmith offers the service(s) you need. Some work 24/7, others do not. Almost all automotive locksmiths provide vehicle lockout services by default as it is the single most common service requested.

How to avoid getting locked out of your car

While we’ve covered quite a bit on what to do if you are locked out of your car, it’s certainly something you don’t want to happen to you (or if it did, you don’t want it to happen again)!

Below are a few tips on what you can do to avoid locking yourself out of your car in the future:

  • Request duplicate keys from a locksmith and put them someplace safe, such as in a safe in your home or leave them with a family member.
  • Try to get in the habit of keeping your car keys someplace secure when on your body, e.g. in a zipped pocket, on a keychain with your other keys.
  • Avoid puffing and instead get into the habit of turning off the ignition, locking your doors, and taking your keys with you every time, even if it’s “just for a minute.”
  • Buy a carabiner or a good keychain. Keeping your keys attached to a carabiner or keychain can make it purposely harder to forget your keys.

Frequently asked questions about car lockouts

What should I do if I accidentally lock my keys in my car?

If you lock yourself in your car, you should first try to remain calm and seek a solution. If you have spare keys or if the trunk or a side door is unlocked, try to get inside. If you cannot enter your vehicle or you’ve lost your keys, call a locksmith near you by using Auto Locksmiths.

Can I unlock my car by using DIY methods?

You may be able to break into your own car using DIY methods, but this generally only works on older vehicles and even if it works, it can damage your vehicle. Instead, consider calling an automotive locksmith to unlock your car doors for you.

How long does it take for a locksmith to arrive?

It depends on the time of day and where you are located, but generally a 24/7 locksmith can be at your location within around 30 minutes to an hour. If you are in an emergency situation, such as if you have a child locked inside of the car, you should always call 911 first.

Will a locksmith be able to unlock my car without damaging it?

Generally, yes. A qualified and experienced car locksmith near you should almost always be able to provide entry without damaging the lock mechanism or the door itself. In some circumstances, however, the lock will need to be physically removed.

What kind of information should I provide to a car locksmith?

In order to receive quality service from your automotive locksmith, it is essential that you provide them with some key information. This includes the make and model of your vehicle, your location, and a way for them to contact you (such as a phone number). Moreover, you should provide them with as much detail as possible about the problem you’re facing.

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

To avoid getting locked out of your vehicle in the future, you should consider duplicating your car keys so that you always have access to a spare set of keys. You should also get in the habit of taking your keys with you at all times, using a keychain or carabiner, and keeping your keys in a zipped pocket rather than kept loosely in a bag or purse.

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Auto locksmith near you

Finding a professional local auto locksmith

It doesn’t matter what make, model or age of vehicle you drive, automotive locksmiths can help with any lock or key problem you may have. However, finding a reputable technician local to you can be difficult, especially if the situation is an emergency and time is of the essence.

Rest assured - the Auto Locksmiths network of 400+ technicians across the USA is here to help take the uncertainty out of searching for an automotive locksmith. All the businesses featured on this site have been approved and verified by our team.