If you’ve locked yourself out of your car, you’re not alone. AAA says it gets calls from about 4 million motorists per year. That’s half a million more than just a few years ago. Consumer Reports has some tips on how to quickly and safely get back on the road.
First, don’t panic! Many gas stations have devices that can help. But what if you’re locked out with no gas station nearby? If you think you are in danger, call 911. The police may be able to unlock your car door themselves or they will find someone who will.
If you’re in a safe spot, take advantage of AAA or any free roadside assistance program you may have. You can call a towing service, but make sure that they have the right equipment to unlock your car. And keep in mind that you’ll probably have to pay for it yourself.
There are also higher-tech solutions. Some models of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury come with a keypad; you enter a code to unlock your door. Lockout services, like GM’s OnStar, which cost around $200 per year, can lock your car remotely. You call an 800 number and a technician clicks open the door.
There are also apps that let you open the car with your phone. Of course, that won’t work if the phone is in the car with the keys.
Having an extra key may seem old school, but it’s tried and true. You can get a discreet metal box to attach to the exterior of the car, stash a key in your wallet or purse, or have a friend keep one for you.