We’ve all done it before—accidentally locking our keys in our car. For some of us, it happens more frequently than we admit. Depending on where you are, and what time it is, you might end up waiting a while for a locksmith to get to you. Not to mention the fee for a simple, 5-second job comes with a big price tag.
Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to break back in yourself within a few minutes. This saves you both time and money! Follow these simple instructions on how to unlock your car door. If unsuccessful, you can always count on Artie’s Locksmith NYC to get the job done for you!
Method #1: Using a Slim Jim to under the window
This method works best if your vehicle has a vertical manual lock. A lock on the top right side of the door just inside the window, that manually goes up and down to lock/unlock the door. This method will require you to have a slim, yet rigid tool that you can slide down between the weather stripping and the glass.
A wire coat hanger will work for this method. Straighten the hanger out as best you can.
Once you have your hanger straight, you’ll need to bend a two or three-inch hook on one end of the hanger. Use the hook to catch the lever arm of the locking mechanism, which allows you to unlock the door.
With your hanger with one hook end, pull back the weather stripping on the bottom of the window, and carefully feed your hanger in, hook first.
You will need to push the hanger down several inches to go under the glass and reach the locking mechanism. Once below the glass, you’ll need to turn your hanger 90 degrees to be perpendicular to the lever in order to be able to catch it.
Now is where it starts to get tricky because each type of car is different. There is no one answer for where to locate the lever. Generally speaking, the lever is slightly behind the actual lock. So start by using your hook a few inches away from the lever and fishing to find the lever. Once you have the lever, you’ll start to see the lock on the door jiggle.
With the lever location, you’ll need to jiggle and lift up on the lever to unlock the door. Because the lever arm is strong than your hanger, you might have to repeat this step a few times. Be aware that the lever may cause your hanger to lose its hook shape, simply pull the hanger out, reshape your hook, and reinsert.
If this method proves to be unsuccessful, try one of our other methods, or simply call Artie’s Locksmith in New York 212-243-0381! With our years of experience and an assortment of professional tools, we’ll be able to get you back in your car and on your way in a matter of minutes.
*Note: If you frequently find yourself looking your keys in the car, you might want to consider purchasing a “slim jim”. The “slim jim” works the same way that the wire hanger does.
Method #2: Using a Cord with a Slipknot
This method is also for vertical manual locks. For this method, you will need a long piece of paracord or a long shoelace (i.e., from a boot).
Start by getting your paracord or shoelace (roughly 3 feet, depending on your door) and tie a large slipknot (approximately 2-3 inches) in the middle of the cord. Having a larger not will make your life easier! You’ll slip the string inside the car, over the knot to be able to pull up and unlock the door.
Once you have your cord with the slipknot, pull on your door up at the door jamb to create a space between the door and the frame of the car. Use this space to shove your slip knot through (you may need to use a small wedge to help keep the gap in order to get your knot through).
Carefully work the knot down towards the lock. It might be easier to lower your knot by using a sort of sawing motion, where you have both ends of the cord apart from each other (i.e., one at the mirror and the other at the jamb) and alternate pulling on each one. Be careful that you only pull one end of the string at a time. Pulling both will result in the knot tightening before reaching the lock and having to start the process over.
Strategically place the slipknot over the vertical lock, and gently pull on both ends of the cord at the same time to tighten the knot around the lock. With the slipknot securely in place, pull up with both ends of the cord to unlock the door. If your lock is smooth, pull up on the cord at an angle to prevent the knot from slipping off prematurely.
Method #3: Going Around the Doorjamb
This method works best on vehicles with power locks or locks that automatically unlock when you pull on the interior door handle. You will need a wire coat hanger or another long stiff tool that won’t bend easily.
Straighten out your hanger as best as possible, you’ll probably need to cut off the ends that held the hanger together. As it will be difficult to get these ends as straight as you will need them. Be careful that you don’t cut off too much of the hanger, you’ll want to try to keep it as long as possible.
With the ends off, shape the hanger (have a slight hook if you will be opening the handle itself, or a small circle if you will be opening a vertical lock or pressing the unlock button) on one end. Make sure that your hook/circle is just the right size. You don’t want it to be too big that it slips off or too small that it doesn’t fit around the lock or handle.
Once you have your hanger in the shape you need, you’ll need to slightly pry your door open, enough to create some leverage. For this, you can use an inflatable pump wedge, which will safely create an opening in your car door or window. If you do not have an inflatable bag at your disposal, you can use any sort of rubber material that is tapered. This can be a couple of door stops that are inserted slowly. We recommend that you use a rubber so as not to scratch or damage your cars paint job. Make sure that you are only prying your door far enough to get your wire hanger through. You’ll need to leave the wedges in the doorjamb as you complete the final steps.
Once you have a wide enough gap, slip your wire hanger through. Depending on whether you are trying to open the handle or the pull up the lock will determine where you should insert your wire. If you are trying to pull the handle open, you’ll want to insert the wire horizontally through the side of the door. If you are trying to pull on the lock itself, insert the wire down from the top of the door.
Carefully place the hook from your wire onto the door handle. For best results have the hook gping downward and slightly towards the inside of the car. When trying to pull up on a lock, make sure the circle in your wire is just barely wide enough to slip over the lock. Pull up on the wire until you door unlocks. You can also use the circle on the end of your wire. Do this to push the button located on the control panel, inside the door to automatically unlock the door. A lot of newer cars come with a control panel on both the drivers and passenger doors. If one door proves unsuccessful, try the other door.
If this method does not help answer how to unlock your car door, call Artie’s Locksmith in New York 212-243-0381! We’ll be able to get you back in your car and on your way in a matter of minutes!
*Note: If locking your keys in your car, is a common occurrence, you might consider purchasing online a specific toolset that includes an inflatable bag, a wedge, and a rigid tool.