DeadLock: What to Do After You Lose Your Car Keys

Keys and cars are not locked together. More than 57.8 million cars were sold or leased in the United States in 2019. Each car had a key to go with it. 

Yet it seems like every car owner has lost their keys at some point. But when you lose your car keys, you are not helpless. 

What should you do once you realize you are locked out of your car? Who can help you recover your lost car keys? How can you try unlocking your car by yourself? 

Answer these questions and you can master what to do if you lose your car keys. Here is your quick guide.

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Check Your Surroundings

Many people think they’ve lost their keys, but they’ve just dropped them somewhere. Stop where you are and collect yourself. Then take a moment to check your pockets, including ones in your coat and bag. 

You may have put the keys in your pocket, but they may have fallen through your pocket into your pant leg. Roll up your pants and look inside your shoes and socks to see if your keys fell there. 

Retrace your steps and look at the ground while you return to your previous location. Your keys may have slid across some ice or fallen into some mud. Be diligent as you look around and bend down so you can get a better look. 

If you still cannot find your keys, look inside your car. Your keys may have fallen on the ground, or you may have left them on a seat. 

Use a Lockout App

If you have a modern car, you may have a lockout app you can use. General Motors offers apps for Buicks, Chevrolets, and other vehicles. You just need to open the app on your phone and then unlock your car. 

You may be able to receive services even if you did not download the app previously. Download the app now and see what it can do for you.

Call for Roadside Assistance

Some automakers provide several years of free roadside assistance. If you bought your car recently, you can call a nearby dealership and have them unlock your car. 

Even if you did not buy your car within a few years, you can receive assistance for a fee. Though you will pay a little money, the initial expense is less costly than paying for a locksmith. 

Call a Locksmith 

If roadside assistance is not available to you, you can call a locksmith. You can call for a AAA locksmith and use your membership benefits for their services. Even if you do not have AAA, you should call one as they have experience in unlocking cars. 

You need to let the locksmith know about several pieces of information. You should tell them what kind of key you use. They may not be able to help if you have a fob, or they may need to find a special tool to replace one. 

You should also let them know what kind of car you drive. The keys for a Toyota do not work on a Buick. You should tell them where you are and where they can park.

This information lets the locksmith know that you are the owner of the vehicle. If you cannot provide it, they will not help you. 

Some locksmiths may be able to go out to you. But they can also give you directions on where they are if you are near them. It may take a few hours to make keys, so be patient and have the money to pay them.

Go to Your Dealership

If a locksmith is not an option, you can go to your dealership for help. You should give them a call and explain your situation to them. They may ask you for details about your vehicle so they can verify that you are the owner. 

A dealership may be able to send someone out to meet with you. You should otherwise walk to the dealership. You don’t need to bring your car with you, though you can tow it to the dealership if you think it would be helpful.

Use a String

You can try unlocking your car should all other options fail. Using a string works only if you have a traditional lock on your door with a knob on top. You need to find a long and sturdy piece of string like a shoelace or a curtain cord. 

Tie a slipknot toward the center of your string. Use a thin piece of wood to create a space between the top of a window and your car’s body. Do not pry the window because you may break it or damage the roof of your car.

Once you have enough of an opening to slip the rope in, you should lower it toward your lock. Position the slipknot around the lock and then pull it upward. 

You can try a similar method with a coat hanger. Using a coat hanger works if your car has a power door lock. You want to straighten the coat hanger out and then press it against the lock button. 

Respond Fast When You Lose Your Car Keys

Stay calm when you lose your car keys. Check your pockets, walk backward, and look around. 

Use your lockout app to unlock your car if you have a modern vehicle. You can also call for roadside assistance. 

If neither of those is an option, you can get a new key from a locksmith. You can also request one from a dealership. When push comes to shove, you can slip a string through your window and unlock your door. 

Losing your keys is a rite of passage for car owners. Read more car maintenance guides by following our coverage.


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