Tips from Used Car Advisor

Car Advisor Tamotsu Todoroki

Hi, this is Tamotsu Todoroki. I am a car advisor of
I write an online column every week to take care of your vehicle. My column is all about something useful and practical for your vehicle. Please have a look once to keep your car in good condition.


Locked Out: How Do You Retrieve Your Car Keys? - Vol.104

All of us have days on which we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. You wake up to find out that you are late for an important appointment, your toothbrush falls into the toilet, your favorite cereal box is empty and you are left with no choice but to leave your house without proper food or oral hygiene.

This is when you reach your car and insert the keys in the ignition but only to hear a trembling coughing sound and the engine refuses to start. What could that be? Better go and check it out yourself. Nothing wrong under the hood, let's try one more time. You reach back to get inside the car only to find out that you have left the keys inside and the door is now locked.

Being locked out in the noisy, crowded yet estranged world outside your car is the worst kind of 'stranded' scenario you can find yourself in. Fortunately, it is not like you are going to stay like that forever. Most cars can be unlocked faster and easier than you can imagine. Today, we share a few smart tips on avoiding such a situation and also a guide to sneak out of it without much ado.

Keep an Extra Pair
The very first useful tip on this subject matter is to keep an extra pair of keys. If you are near your home, you can simply go and grab the extra pair, but what if you are somewhere else? So the best idea is to use the magnetic key holders. The best places are in your kitchen or anywhere safe in the house.

The Hanger Hook
If you drive an older car, from the 70s or 80s, you are one lucky driver to have locked the keys inside. Yep, the good old 'grand theft' days. Older door locks with buttons on the window ledge are very easy to open. All you need is a straightened wire coat hanger. You can bend the end of the wire like a hook and insert it in the gap between the rubber molding and window side. Use the hook to grab the door button and simply pull it up to open the door.

The Tennis Trick
A very popular yet difficult trick hailed by lock-picking enthusiasts is the tennis ball trick. All you need is a tennis ball cut into a perfect half and a hole drilled in its center. You need to place the ball above the lock and hit it real hard real fast. The suction created inside the dome will pull the lock out. Now, this is something that requires practice. Yet, it is hardly practical unless you are a tennis fan locked near your own home or near a sporting goods shop.

For Newer Cars
If you have a newer car, lock-picking may not be that easy. However, most modern cars come with other benefits such as a smart system and keys that won't allow you to lock the door while the key is inside. Other modern day saviors include on-the-go navigation services such as 'OnStar' in most GM vehicles. 'OnStar' sends remote signals to your car and unlocks it within seconds.
Finally, if you can wait for a little while, it is always advisable to go for professional help. Cops and locksmiths are both good at this job depending on who can get to you the earliest. In any case, we never recommend breaking the window and other violent ways as they can result in injury and will cost you more than a locksmith.