Finding yourself locked out of your car is a horrible experience. It can make you late for important events or leave you stranded far from home. In some cases, it can even put your personal safety at risk. If no one has an extra set of keys, you need an alternative plan for getting back into your car.
In the past, a simple coat hanger trick could get many cars unlocked, but modern cars have more sophisticated security. In most cases, you will need to contact a locksmith. Professional locksmith tools gain entry to locked cars quickly and without causing damage. There is no single tool that works for every make and model, so the locksmith caries a variety of instruments that can be used separately or together to release virtually any type of automotive lock system.
Bump keys and bump hammers can open cylinder-type automotive locks. Bump keys are specially made keys that are cut to maximum depth. After the locksmith inserts the bump key, a bump hammer is lightly tapped against the lock. This releases the lock’s pins and unlocks the car. Locksmiths carry sets of bump keys designed for specific vehicle makes or lock types.
Another way to pick a car lock is by using automotive lock picks. These are also designed for specific makes and are used with an automotive torsion wrench. Auto jiggler keys or try-out keys work in a similar way. Each of these generic keys has a cut that resembles that of a specific car manufacturer’s keys. Try-out keys are often successful in opening various foreign and domestic cars.
When a pick or bump tool is not an option, the locksmith must reach the car’s interior to release the lock. Wedge tools are often the first step in gaining access. There are several types of wedges – some are plastic and others are metal. The locksmith gently forces a wedge between the door or window and the car’s interior to make a space large enough for other tools to enter. The air pump wedge, an inflatable alternative, is a safer option for cars with frameless windows. They are easy to control and prevent damage to the delicate glass.
Accessing a car’s interior is easier with the help of thin metal rods called long reach tools. After passing through a thin sleeve that protects the car’s body from the metal surface, reach tools are inserted through the gap created by a wedge tool. They come in various shapes and styles – some have a hooked or looped end to grab onto lock release mechanisms inside the car. Others are L-shaped to help the locksmith maneuver them into an awkward position to press buttons or activate controls.
A Slim Jim is a thin metal device that the locksmith slips through the space between the weather stripping and the window. This tool reaches the lock mechanism inside the door to manipulate rod locks in older cars. A Euro-Strip is a similar device that uses a rubber band to release the lock. It is effective for high-end makes such as BMW, Mercedes and Volvo.
If you become locked out of your car in the local area, a qualified locksmith can arrive quickly to save the day. Always keep valuable phone numbers and contact information with you in case of emergencies. Keeping locksmith contact details inside the glove compartment is useful if you lose your house keys, but it won’t help you if you lock yourself out of your car, so be sure to program numbers into your mobile phone or keep a printed copy in your wallet, pocket or purse.