Common Car Lockout Situations and What to Do When It Happens

car lockout situations

Have you ever experienced losing your car keys or accidentally leaving them inside your car and you can’t open the doors? These car lockout scenarios can ruin your day. 

Of course, you can always call a car lockout service to bail you out. But knowing how to solve these lockouts yourself will save you the trouble — and money. 

Lockouts can be frustrating, but there’s no need to be overly stressed. Car lockouts are pretty common and can happen to anyone at any time. Fortunately, there are ways to effectively deal with a car lockout. 

Continue reading and we’ll show you everything you need to know. 

4 Common Car Lockout Scenarios

Car lockouts can happen for a variety of reasons and dealing with them depends on how you got yourself in that situation. Here are the 4 common car lockout scenarios most drivers experience: 

1. Leaving the keys inside the vehicle

When you’re in a hurry, you’re likely to forget things. Here you are running late for something, turned off your engine, got out of your car, and locked the doors only to realize you left the keys on the ignition. 

Some people may leave their keys inside while the vehicle is still on. Suppose you’re just going to grab something quick and be on your way, but you accidentally lock the doors as you leave. You may feel stupid but these things happen. .

2. Losing the keys

Keys are one of the top five things people lose often. It can be annoying when you can’t remember where you may have put your keys and spend the whole day looking for them. The last thing you should do is panic when this happens.  

3. Breaking the keys

There are two possibilities — either you’re pretty strong or your keys are too old. People who don’t have spare keys end up dealing with lockouts. 

Also, modern car keys like key fobs are easier to break compared to traditional ones. The doors of newer car models won’t be opened if the key fob or transponder won’t work. When your keys don’t work, your batteries could be dead or the computer chip inside has been damaged. 

4. A broken car door

This is common with old cars. Door locks may be damaged over time and when they break, they may be due for a replacement. 

For technologically advanced cars, broken door locks may be caused by their security alarm system. When it detects a break-in attempt, the locks on the door may be disabled or be on lockdown. 

DIY Car Unlock Methods

If you ever got yourself in any of those lockouts, consider these DIY methods to open your car:

Using a string to unlock the car door

You can unlock your car doors with a long and solid string like a shoelace, for example. While this is an effective method for lockouts, it doesn’t work on all cars. But if you have the traditional, post-type door lock with a small knob at the top, using a string can unlock your door. 

Follow these steps:

  1. Tie a slip knot in the middle of the string.
  2. Gently pry open a space between the top of your front door and the car’s body by using a screwdriver or a thin piece of wood.
  3. Insert the string into the opening created and lower the slip knot into the car’s cabin. Make sure each end of the string goes out near the car’s doorknob and the side mirror respectively. 
  4. Adjust the slip knot by pulling each end of the string until it is positioned around the door lock’s knob. 
  5. Pull each end of the string to tighten the slip knot around the door lock’s knob. 
  6. Once the knot is secure, unlock your car by pulling the knob upward. 

Using a rod or wire clothes hanger to unlock the car door

The methods to unlock car doors will depend on your car’s make and model. Sometimes using a rod or wire clothes hanger works especially on power lock doors that have their lock buttons located on the armrest.

  1. Gently pry open a space between the top of your front door and the car’s body by using a screwdriver or a thin piece of wood. Exercise caution to avoid damaging your vehicle. 
  2. Using the opening you created, slide the rod inside the car’s cabin.
  3. To open the door, use the rod to slide or push down the car’s door-lock flipper or button. 

When to Call a Professional Locksmith

When every option is exhausted and you still can’t get your doors open, call for help. If you want a hassle-free service at any day and time, contact Neighborhood Roadside Assistance. We’re a 24/7 service based in New Jersey specializing in car lockouts. 

How to Prevent a Car Lockout

To prevent unnecessary lockouts in the future, follow these simple reminders:

  • Always bring a spare key – Having a spare key with you all the time can prevent future car lockout scenarios mentioned above.
  • Check your car keys when leaving the vehicle – If you make it a habit of checking for your keys before leaving, you’ll lessen your chances of dealing with car lockouts anytime soon. 
  • Give someone you trust a spare key – Giving someone you trust a spare key can save you from car lockouts for times when you accidentally lose or break your keys. 


By carefully following the steps above, you’ll open your doors eventually. The DIY methods we just shared are proven and tested for most lockouts. Furthermore, remain calm and patient while waiting for a professional service to solve your problem. 

If you badly need help (for example, your child is stuck inside the car), by all means ask for assistance from the police. They will unlock your car for free.