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What to Do When You Lock Your Keys in Your Car

Updated on May 23, 2013

Locking your keys in the car is an easy enough mistake to make. It happens to thousands of people daily, but when it happens to you it can be difficult not to panic. The first thing that you need to remember when you've locked your keys in the car is to remain calm. Panicking will not help the situation.

My First-Hand Experience

I decided to take my dog to the beach. I parked in a small beach access parking lot just off of the highway. I took my remote key entry off of my key chain and put it into my pocket so that I wouldn't have to carry around all of my keys. Long story short, the remote key entry fell out of my pocket and landed somewhere on the beach. There was no way that I was going to find it, even after retracing my steps three times. It had been swallowed up by the ocean. Yes, I panicked. I had recently moved to the area and knew absolutely no one. Not to mention my husband was working out of state and he had the only spare key to my car. My dog and I were locked out of the car an hour away from our house...and it was nearly 90 degrees out! Well, after this fun little experience I must say that I learned quite a bit so I figured I'd share it with others who happen to find themselves in a similar situation.

OnStar and AAA Memberships

If you have OnStar or AAA you are in luck! OnStar has a program that allows them to remotely unlock your car with just a phone call. You'll need to answer a few questions to verify your identity, but it should only take a few minutes to get into your car.

AAA offers an unlocking service for it's members. They will send someone from a local agency to come unlock your car, which could take a little while depending on how quick someone can get to you.

Program the phone numbers for OnStar and/or AAA into your phone just in case. You don't want to be locked out and not know what number to call to get assistance!

**AAA members are also covered if they are passengers in another persons vehicle, just make sure you carry your AAA card with you.

Local Police Department

Surprisingly, when I called the local police department stating that I had locked myself out of my car I was told that there was nothing that they could do to help me. They did give me a few numbers to lock smiths in the area, but that was it. However, if there is a child (or even a pet) locked inside of the car they have to respond immediately.

Roadside Assistance

Newer cars with warranties are often covered with free roadside assistance. This is not always clearly stated in the auto warranty, so clarify it with the dealership when purchasing the car so that you know it is available in the event that you lock your keys in the car.

*When I locked my keys in the car OnStar referred me to roadside assistance. They used my vin number and I was told that they could send a lock smith to me free of charge because it was covered under my warranty. I didn't even know that my auto warranty covered this!

Local Towing Companies or Lock Smiths

If you don't have AAA or OnStar and you have no other options, you can contact a local towing company or lock smith to come unlock your car. There may be a long wait, sometimes ranging from an hour to several hours. They will get you into your car using special tools that they have on hand. The fee can vary depending on where you live and how far they have to travel to get to you, but be prepared to spend upwards of $50.00.

Insurance Policies that Cover Lockouts

If you have full coverage on your vehicle chances are you might also have coverage for lockouts. While the insurance company won't exactly come out and unlock your car, it is good to know that you have lockout coverage so that you don't have to pay for it out of pocket. If you have this coverage be sure to tell the lock smith or towing company that is providing the service, they should know how to handle the next steps.

Preventive Measures

Preventive measures to avoid lockouts may seem silly, but if you ever happen to lock yourself out of your car you will be extremely happy that you took preventive measures. Here's a few things that you can do to prevent lockouts...

  • Always double check that you have your keys before locking the vehicle.
  • Give a spare key to a close friend or family member who lives in your vicinity so that if you happen to lock yourself out they can bring you the spare key.
  • Purchase a magnetic key case that you can hide somewhere on the underbody of your car in the event of a lockout.
  • Invest in a AAA or OnStar membership (they are also hand for breakdowns, flat tires, etc.)
  • Buy a car lockout kit (which you will probably end up keeping in your trunk, but you can help others who have locked their keys in their car!)
  • When you move to a new area, program numbers to local towing companies and lock smiths into your phone so that you can find them easily in the event of a lockout.


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    • wetnosedogs profile image


      6 years ago from Alabama

      It's been a while, and I worry I will do this. Now I know what to do, thanks to you.

    • profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago

      This happened to me twice. The first time I paid $45 but the second time a guy sitting in the doctors office hearing of my predicument offered to unlock it for $20....

      Great advice and info, I will pass it on. ^

    • alisharenee profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New York

      Hawaiianodysseus- I'm glad that you liked the article! I wish that I had known these things before locking my keys in the car, but I'm glad that my little life lesson can be used to help others who might find themselves in the same situation! Mahalo! :-)

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      This is a great object lesson for all of us, and I want to thank you, Alisha, for sharing these tips. I learned a few new things I can do should this ever happen to me, and it is definitely something I want to pass on to my wife and daughter. Aloha and mahalo!


    • alisharenee profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New York

      collegedad- Glad you enjoyed the article! I've heard quite a few stories about keys being locked in cars...luckily I only have one story myself. Hopefully that will be the one and only story that I have!

    • collegedad profile image


      6 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

      Oh the stories I could tell about keys locked in cars. Thanks for the useful hub.


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