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We have all been there at one point or another. You are running late, jump out of the car, and just as you slam the door, realize you left the keys inside the vehicle. A car lockout is a stressful driving event that can be eliminated by making a few simple adjustments to your daily routine.

Here are a few helpful car safety pointers to prevent a car lockout, saving you time and money, with tips for what to do if the inevitable happens.

Getting locked out of your car can be frustrating

A car key repair and lockout reporting segment by Albert Pierce in Boston, Massachusetts
A car key repair and lockout reporting segment | Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Getting locked out of your car can ruin your day in a hurry. You can spend hours waiting for assistance from a roadside service like AAA to come to your rescue without a spare key handy.

A car lockout always seems to happen at the worst time. Maybe you are running late to work or need to pick up the kids from school, and you have no access to your vehicle. Not only is it an inconvenience, but the stress can be unbearable. Erie Insurance recommends having a backup plan so that when a car lockout happens, you have a way to get back into the vehicle quickly and easily, without frustration.

The first tip is to keep a spare key in your wallet, give one to a friend or family member for safe keeping, or use a magnetic “hide-a-key” box. Another easy solution is to subscribe in advance to a remote assistance service, such as OnStar or Blue Link, which can unlock the car remotely, getting you back on the road without the hassle.

If your car has a keypad entry, which is common on most Ford and Lincoln vehicles, you have to enter the code, and you can get back into your car in no time. You can also utilize your smartphone. Many automakers offer remote assistance, essentially turning your phone into a spare key. Check with your local dealer to see if this high-tech option is available.

How to prevent a car lockout

To prevent a car lockout, get in the habit of locking the doors from outside the vehicle. 

Learn how the security system in your vehicle works. Some car doors will automatically lock when the engine is running. Before getting out of the car, turn off the ignition and put the key in your pocket or purse. This simple change in habit could make all the difference between being locked out of your vehicle or going about your day without the unnecessary frustration.

Since a single key is easily misplaced, we recommend keeping your car keys on a key chain. You can also attach a lanyard, making it easily identifiable and hard to leave behind. A carabiner fastened to your belt loop or purse can also keep your keys in a handy place for safekeeping.

What to do if you get locked out of your car

If you find yourself on the other side of a locked car door, don’t despair. Plenty of companies are available to offer lockout assistance. Mach 1 warns, “you can always utilize some DIY methods to get back in, but you’re far more likely to damage something that will cost you more to repair.”

Many auto insurance providers offer emergency roadside assistance coverage. It usually costs less than $10 per year and can be an inexpensive fix. Dealerships and locksmiths can issue replacement keys, but there is a cost to this service, which can be pricey. You will need to present proof of ownership and the vehicle identification number. Vehicles equipped with a key fob will require a replacement security transponder chip.

The best thing you can do if you find yourself in this situation is remember not to panic. Think of the fastest and easiest solution before getting stressed out. Having a plan in place will help you prevent a car lockout, avoiding unnecessary headaches and hassle.


What To Do If You’ve Locked Your Keys In Your Car