Locking your keys in the car can easily make any day a bad day. A perfectly great afternoon loses its luster the moment you realize your keys are in your car, locked inside a cage of glass and steel. You have places to be, things to do—and you need your car to do them all. With the keys locked inside, what is one to do? First things first – try not to panic.
What not to do
1. Don’t panic
It happens to all of us at least once in a lifetime, so don’t sweat your bad luck in the heat of the moment. Take a few deep breaths and know it’s going to be okay. You have options—options that we will walk you through below—for getting those pesky locked keys in the car out and back into your hands.
2. Should I call the police?
Your first reaction might be to call the police for help. While asking for help is a good instinct, they cannot unlock your car for you unless it’s an emergency. What qualifies as an emergency? If you or someone is in immediate danger, then it’s time to contact police officers. For example, if your child is locked in the car along with your keys, you should not wait for roadside assistance or the locksmith, as that could take hours. Thus, unless it’s an emergency, do not call the police. Instead, you can take action yourself to fix the problem at hand.
What to do when you’re locked out
1. Use a spare key
Do you have a spare key? If your car is in a safe place, your quickest option is to retrieve the spare and come back. This is a good option if your car is:
- Parked and, ideally, not running
- Off the road and out of traffic
- Not obstructing any road signs
2. Use a ride-share service
You can take a ride share service home and retrieve the key or call whoever has it for help. Make sure to return the spare after you’ve unlocked your car so that the next time you need it, it’s accessible.
3. Emergency roadside assistance
Do you have roadside assistance included in your car insurance? If so, you can probably contact them for help. Typically, this service includes:
- Changing flat tires
- Running out of fuel
- Jump starting your car
- Locking keys in your vehicle
Talk to your insurance company before you need to use it and ask what’s covered. If locking your keys in your vehicle is on the list, you can contact roadside assistance and let them know that your keys are locked in the car. From there, they will ask for your location and give you an estimate for when help will arrive.
4. Contact a locksmith
Not everyone’s insurance plan covers roadside assistance – that’s okay! You still have options. Your local locksmith can help you get back into your vehicle. We suggest vetting someone to ensure they are trained professionally and understand the type of locking mechanism your car uses. Another thing to investigate is their reviews. This way, you’ll feel confident that the locksmith you choose can provide the assistance you need when you need it most. This service will typically cost anywhere from $30-$100, depending on the type of lock.
While we hope you never experience the stress of being locked out of your car, if it does happen, you’ll know what to do and what not to do. Being prepared for an unexpected situation, from locking your keys in the car to running out of gas, will make traveling safer for everyone on the road.