How to Unlock Car When Keys are Inside: 10 DIY Methods

Imagine that you are in a parking lot, and you have left your keys inside the vehicle. In this case, methods on how to unlock the car door without it become the only way to enter the vehicle.

The good news is that you can do it by yourself using common items. Here are the top 10 methods on how to unlock car when keys are inside.

Dial 911

First thing first, if there is a child or a pet inside your car, the best thing that you can do is to dial 911 while tapping on all of the windows and calling for help. 

If possible try not to stand in front of the vehicle so a driver passing by will see you. It’s better if you are a little bit away from it when contacting the police or other emergency services.

Call for roadside assistance

Alternatively, you can call roadside assistance. If you have one, they will send someone to your location. 

You don’t need to be afraid should you left t keys are inside because even if how to do it seems complicated – it’s much simpler than how you may think.

Top 10 Methods to Unlock Car When Keys are Inside

Below are some popular ways to get back into your car without a key. Most of these methods will work on mechanical locks, but many won’t work with electronic locks found in more recent models.

To unlock a car with an electronic lock mechanism without a key, you need to contact a locksmith or request the manufacturer to unlock it remotely.

Having said that, the methods below can still come in handy if you happen to find yourself locked outside your vehicle for whatever reason – be it a mechanical lock or an electronic one.

1. Unlock the Door Remotely

Many manufacturers have remote door unlocking systems that allow customers who locked themselves out to gain entry inside when their key fob is disabled or if they’ve left it behind altogether. 

These advanced features are built-in in most new cars today. But if yours doesn’t offer this great feature, you can purchase a universal remote holder. It will allow you to activate your car door from the outside.

These special holders are shaped like a ring and work with any car or truck, that has wireless entry options (such as key fobs). If you ever lose this tool or someone steals it out of your car – there is no problem because many companies offer these rings with several remotes included. Just buy another one for few dollars, and don’t forget to take the original with you!

2. The Screwdriver Method

Most doors can be easily opened with the help of a screwdriver. Take a flat head screwdriver and place the tip at about an inch from the bottom corner on the passenger side of your vehicle’s door. 

Now, slightly pry up for 10 seconds until you hear it click. The door should be unlocked. This method works most of the time, so try it first before using any other unlocking methods.

3. The Hook Tool Method

If the door is too heavy to lift and if you don’t have a screwdriver at hand, it is still possible to unlock it. You will need a hook tool that has a curve on one end. And make sure that it goes under the front edge of your car’s rear window.

Take it and use it to pull up the lock inside your car’s door and then press the unlock button.

4. Steck Manufacturing – Big Easy Delux KIT

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This kit is great for automotive locksmiths and provides a quick access solution to vehicle doors. The kit features the Big Easy Delux which is a chrome-plated brass lock pick gun with special tension tooling that works on all vehicles in seconds.

Equipped with an auto-retractable tensioner, the penetration depth of this tool is up to three times that of conventional tools. It has a retractable steel cable which allows the lock pick gun to be used at a distance from the vehicle door and comes with specially designed pick tools for different makes of vehicles, including Ford/Chrysler/Dodge, Honda/Acura, Toyota, Nissan, and more.

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5. The Pump Wedge Method

This is the easiest and simplest method how to unlock a car when keys are inside. With this method, you can easily open your driver’s side door of a car without damaging it.

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You will need a pump wedge, which can be easily bought online. Simply place the wedge between the window and door of your vehicle, inflate it slightly by squeezing its sides and after a second or two you should hear a click sound which means that your car door is now unlocked.

The Original Rhino Strong Commercial Grade Air Wedge Bag Pump is a professional leveling kit & alignment tool inflatable shim bag with 3 sizes for all of your individual needs. Always be ready. Check price on Amazon!

Here’s a video on how to use an inflatable wedge to unlock a car when keys are inside:

Ares Moto Garage

6. The Use of a Slim Jim

This tool more technically known as a lockout tool has been named so because of its size – it usually measures about 16 inches long. 

People use them for some time to try how to unlock the car door without a key. It looks like a credit card and most often people carry them in their cars with other ’emergency items’ as well. 

You can insert this tool into the crack between your door and the frame. Push it a little bit upward so that it is up against the lock mechanism inside your car’s door. Then pull on this nice tool with all of your might.

There are instances when you will have to give it more than one try but eventually, you should feel the click sound which means that your car door is now unlocked.

7. A Pair of Pliers or Vice Grips

If you don’t have any other unlocking tools at hand but still need to unlock your car without keys, there is yet another way for all of you! You can also use standard pliers or vice grips.

Get one end of them closer to where the locking mechanism is located; squeeze them towards each other with the locking mechanism in between and pull away from the door. 

If done right you should now hear a click sound which means that your car door is unlocked.

8. Coat Hanger Method

This method is probably the simplest one as well because all you need to use – is a coat hanger. It doesn’t matter if you do not have tools or even screwdrivers with you. If you are locked outside your car with an empty trunk; use this simple tool that everyone should have in their homes.

The thing about using this method is that it only works for cars made after 1996. If you don’t know when was your vehicle produced, try the reason for production mentioned above – it may help you determine the right year for your specific car model.

9. Doors Located In The Back Of The Car

It may sound crazy, but some manufacturers place rear doors on their cars that can be opened even when someone turns the lock cylinder up!

To open them you need to push down on that area where the locking mechanism is located. And pull the handle at the same time.

That should do it – your car’s back door will now open easily. Not every vehicle has a feature like this so if yours doesn’t – don’t worry; simply use one of the previous methods listed above and you may get inside with no problem.

10 .Forcible Entry

If all fails, you still have the last chance to unlock your car without your keys using this method. To do so, you will need some power tools though. 

You should be able to find tools like crowbars or hammers in the trunk of your car. Using these tools, carefully remove all pieces of metal obstructing the lock on the driver’s door. Then use a hammer or pliers to force it up even more.

From that point onwards, you should be ready to open the car by pulling on it with both hands. However, keep in mind that there is no guarantee that this method will work as different cars have very different designs.

If nothing else works, you could always call a locksmith to come over but we doubt they can help you without breaking a few things. That’s why we advise you to try the previous methods first.

4 Types of Car Locking Mechanisms

In this section, we will identify the different types of car locking mechanisms. It is very important to know them in advance, so you will not be too surprised when an emergency happens. Here are the most common ones:

1. Dead Bolt Locks

This type of lock uses a key to rotate the cylinder inside. And then push it back into place which is why they are called deadbolts (because they don’t move after they are locked).

2. Pin Locks

These types of locks aren’t too common, but you can still find them on a few cars. They have pins going down over the cylinder and will not retract unless there is an inserted key that can push them back up and allow you to turn the cylinder inside.

3. Tumbler Locks

The cylinder of this type of lock is a series of pins that have to be raised inside their housing for the door to be unlocked.

4. Electronic Locks

Nowadays, most cars are using electronic locking mechanism which often includes both an electric motor and some type of computer technology to operate it. Even though they are quite common, it is more difficult to repair them than the others.

Proactive Measures To Avoid the Situation

You can avoid being locked out of your car if you prevent it in advance. Breaking in on your car is not necessary if you take every precaution needed before locking the doors. 

Make sure that all passengers are out and lock all doors using the button inside the car or by pulling on a lever outside of it. You can also use a remote locking system which is more popular now due to its ease and simplicity.

Another tip is to keep your car keys in a secure place where they will be harder to get, such as a deep pocket. You can also carry an extra key on your person at all times. So that you won’t have any problems if you lock your keys inside the car.


Car keys are one of the most important things to keep on you at all times. If you’ve lost it and can’t find it, don’t panic! There may be a DIY solution for how to unlock car when keys are inside, that doesn’t involve breaking down the door with a hammer (unless there is an emergency). Moreover, we’ve covered some different types of car locks. We also shared some quick tips so that you never have to worry about being locked out of your vehicle again.

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