How to Unlock a Car Door

car keysUnlocking a car door can be a frustrating experience for an owner without the keys. Most car owners do not want to break a $300 window, peel damage weather-stripping, or risk scratching their car door with a lockout tool. Individuals enrolled in roadside service programs such as AAA should consider contacting those organizations, as they often cover being locked out of a vehicle.
Whenever an individual loses a key, he or she should change the locks on the car. Allowing a spare key to float around in public exposes the owner to the risk of having his or her car stolen. Getting the door locks rekeyed and the ignition replaced is a sensible precautionary measure, although it will often require the services of a locksmith.

However, if the keys are left in the car, there are a few things that an owner can do.

How to unlock a car door with a lockout tool or slim jim?

First, create a small, long strip of metal with a notched end. One can bend a coat hanger or cut the tool out of sheet metal. Next, pull back on the weather-stripping near the windows. Insert the tool down into the door and feel for a control arm right next to the lock. Attempt to actuate that arm with the tool to unlock the door.

This is the classical approach, and it borders on being outdated. Many modern cars have a shroud covering this control arm, rendering this approach ineffective. Additionally, unskilled use of a lockout tool can damage the weather-stripping near the window, scratch the window itself, and damage the lock rods. If an individual is inexperienced with lockout tools, he or she should just contact a professional.

How to unlock a car door with a coat hanger?

Most car doors have weather-stripping that runs along the windows as well as weather-stripping between the door and the car body. Straighten out a hanger and push the end of the hanger past the weather-stripping. Aim the hanger downwards towards the controls on the door. Try to get the bottom of the hanger around the interior lock mechanism and actuate it. Alternatively, actuate the power door locks or manipulate the interior door handle.

How to unlock a car door when the lock is broken?

If the locking mechanism itself fails or if a key breaks off in the lock, professional assistance will probably be required. Ironically, poor use of the lockout tool can cause this. It may be possible to repair the cylinder without having to replace both cylinders or key a new cylinder for a specific key. Contact a locksmith to have the cylinder repaired or replaced.

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