Last updated: August 2023

What to Do If You Get Locked Out of Your Car

Whether you can’t find your keychain or shut your car door before realizing the keys are sitting on the seat, at some point, just about every driver will lock themselves out of their car. While this is a potentially frustrating situation, we’ve got guidance on how to get back into your vehicle and back on your way. Here are the dos and don’ts if you’re ever asking what do I do if I get locked out of my car?

Assess the Situation

While our first instinct might be to get frustrated, the best thing you can do when you think you’re locked out of your vehicle is to take a deep breath and calmly assess the situation. First, check all the doors to make sure you’re actually locked out. Perhaps you have a pesky back door that doesn’t lock when you hit the button. This could save you time and stress. If you’re truly locked out, do you have a spare key for times like this? If so, getting back in the car could be easy. If your spare key is stored somewhere on the outside of the car, like in a magnetic holder, simply locate it and unlock the door. If your spare key is at home or sitting on a friend or family member’s keychain, use your cell phone (or a kind stranger’s cell phone should yours be in the locked vehicle) to call and ask them to bring you the key.

Pro Tip: Make sure you have a spare key, and find a safe place to store it for times like these.

What If You Don’t Have a Way to Get In?

If you don’t have a spare key easily accessible and don’t have a way to get in the vehicle, should you break in yourself? Who do you call when you lock your keys in the car? Well, it depends on if you have roadside assistance or not.

If You Have Roadside Assistance:

Been paying for a roadside assistance* plan? Now is the time to put it to use! Roadside assistance plans typically provide lost key and lockout service (as well as emergency towing, jump-starts, and other useful services), meaning just one phone call can usually get you back in your vehicle. If you’re unsure whether you added roadside assistance to your auto policy, give your insurer a call to check. If you know you have a roadside assistance plan through your insurer, you should be able to find the correct number to call on their website, their app, or your policy documents. Similarly, if you purchased roadside assistance as a separate product (like a AAA membership), you should be able to locate the number to call on official documents. When you make the phone call, give the dispatcher all the necessary information, and help should be on the way.

If You Don’t Have Roadside Assistance:

Don’t have roadside assistance? Don’t worry! You still have options to get back in your vehicle. While there are guides instructing you on how to get back into your own vehicle, we do not advise breaking into your own car. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can damage the door or lock. We recommend calling an expert, like a local tow company or locksmith. They should be able to send someone with experience and the proper tools to your location.

What’s Cheaper? Roadside Assistance or Calling a Locksmith:

Is roadside assistance worth it? Is a one-off call to a locksmith a better deal? Well, the average cost to unlock a car is between $75-$150, according to HomeAdvisor. At Direct Auto, a roadside assistance plan, meaning that the plan typically pays for itself after just one use. Even if you just have one lockout over the life of your roadside plan, you should save some money. If you end up on the side of the road another time or two with a dead battery or flat tire, a roadside assistance plan will save you serious time, money, and stress.

What If It’s an Emergency Situation?

Most lockout situations are a little frustrating and time-consuming, but sometimes they are a matter of life and death, like if your young child is stuck inside the car on a hot day. Dial 911 if it’s an emergency and let an officer aid you in this rescue situation. If you’re worried help can’t get to you quickly enough, you may have to break a window yourself. If so, search for something to break the window with (like a hammer, screwdriver, or golf club) and break the window that is farthest away from the child or pet in the vehicle to keep them as safe as possible.

Become a Member of Direct Auto’s Roadside Assistance Program

The best way to deal with a lockout situation is to make sure you’re ready ahead of time. Give Direct Auto a call about car insurance, and ask about adding a roadside assistance plan to your policy. Or stop by one of our many Direct Auto locations to talk to an agent in person.

*Roadside Assistance is not insurance and is administered through NationSafeDriver, Boca Raton, FL, which is not affiliated with the Direct General Group. Terms and conditions apply. 

For additional details and disclaimers, please see our Terms of Use.

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