Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Locked out of car — open door yourself

Locked out of car — open door yourself

Ways to open car door when you’re locked out of car

If you’re locked out of your car you have two options; call an automotive locksmith or try to unlock the door yourself. I’ll give you some tips on hiring an automotive locksmith at the bottom of this post. But first I’ll cover some of the tips you’ll see online and explain why they don’t work.

The string trick to unlock a car door doesn’t work

The trick involves working a string under the door weather stripping by “sawing” it back and forth. That part really is doable. But then what? The trick tells you to next work the string around the door lock button and pull it up. Carmakers stopped using pop up buttons decades ago. If you think you can use a string to unlock the newer lever lock, you’re mistaken. In other words, you can get the string in, but there’s really nothing you can do with it after that point. Don’t waste your time with string.

The Slim Jim trick to open locked car door only works on TV

Carmakers long ago redesigned their door latch and linkage mechanisms to prevent car thieves from breaking is using a slim jim. They don’t work. If you try it, you’ll just break the linkage inside the door. Then you’ll be in even bigger trouble.

slim jim tool

The coat hanger rarely works

In this trick you slide a coat hanger under the door weatherstripping and maneuver it over to the door handle to pull the interior handle. Unfortunately, on most modern vehicles, if the doors are locked, the interior handle won’t unlock the latch. You have to operate the power door locks first before you can use the interior handle.

Buy an auto lockout kit

You can buy an auto lockout kit at most auto parts stores from under $100. That’s less than the cost of an automotive locksmith. STECK Manufacturing is the leader in auto lockout kits. The Steck 32900 and are the two most popular kits. The kits contain a long rigid rod a wedge and a paiSteck 32955nt protector. Some kits also contain and inflatable wedge.

auto lockout kit

How to use an auto lockout kit to open a car door after you’ve been locked out of car

1) Use the nylon wedge at the top corner of the door to pry it open enough to insert the pull rod.
2) If you own the Steck 32955 kit, slide the inflatable wedge along the top edge of the door to gain a wider gap to maneuver the pull tool.
3) Slide the paint protector onto the pull rod.
4) Insert the pull rod and paint protector into the gap between the door and pillar and maneuver it to operate the power door lock switch. With the door unlocked, simply operate the exterior door handle.
5) If the vehicle doesn’t have power door locks or they don’t work, use the pull rod to pull the interior handle to open the door.

How to find and hire an automotive locksmith

WARNING: There are a LOT of scammer locksmith posting on the internet. The vast majority of the top search results are from locksmith BROKERS, not actual locksmiths. These companies pay to come up at the top of your searches. When you call, they’ll give you a low-ball price and if you agree, they’ll sell your name and information to a freelance automotive locksmith.

When that locksmith arrives, they’ll give a new much higher price. It’s a scam you can easily avoid. Don’t use an automotive locksmith broker.

Perform an online search for “automotive locksmiths near me.”

Do NOT call any locksmith with a 1-800 number. They’re just brokers.

Once you find a local automotive locksmith, type their name into the search bar to get their reviews, like “A-1 locksmith reviews.”

You want a licensed locksmith with good reviews that will give you a firm price before you hire them. An experienced locksmith knows how to unlock every vehicle so be suspicious of any locksmith that can’t give you a firm price on the phone. No locksmith needs to see your vehicle in order to give you a price.

When the automotive locksmith arrives

Ask to see their licensed identification.

They’ll either pick the lock or use a lock out kit

When they’re done, the door lock should work normally and if they use a lock out kit, there should be no paint scratches on the door frame or pillar.

©, 2022 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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