how to unlock your car with key inside

How to Unlock Your Car with Your Keys Locked Inside

How to Unlock Your Car with Your Keys Locked Inside

Locking your keys in the car happens to the best of us, so knowing how to unlock your car with the keys locked inside is a handy bit of knowledge to have in your back pocket. Now when you get that frantic feeling to search through an overfull purse or the frenzied digging in every single pocket, you don’t have to worry.

In general, to unlock a car without a key:

A locksmith or roadside assistance like Mach 1, which works with lots of tow truck companies, is a better choice.  

If you lock yourself out of your car, you will want to know what options are available to you to get your car unlocked and the costs of some of those options. Keep reading so you never again have to ask “what do I do if I lock my keys in my car?”

How Much is it to Replace Locks on a Car?

While replacing a car door lock is a project most often completed by a car locksmith or a mechanic, reports that it will cost anywhere from $75 to $220 to replace the lock in a car.

It is something a do-it-yourself person could attempt if you’re particularly handy. We don’t recommend trying this unless you have a little experience with replacing locks or with cars. There’s the potential to cause permanent damage to your car locks.

The locks on a car must be replaced from inside the car, so this is not something that you would do while you were staring at your car keys that were in the ignition from outside of your locked car and not something that you would do alongside the road or in a parking lot after you left your keys in your car.

You have to have replacement parts, and certain tools such a ratchet extenders or screw-driver type socket drives to get to the bolts that hold the door handle and lock assembly in place.

The tools do not need to be extra-large; the bolts, screws, and clips are small and relatively easy to access.

Mechanic Pete from explains in great detail the process of replacing a car door lock cylinder:

  • Purchase a new lock cylinder specific for your vehicle
  • Remove the screws holding the inside door panel on
  • Unclip the electrical wires for the windows and door locks
  • Remove the door handle assembly
  • Replace the lock cylinder
  • Put the door handle assembly back into place
  • Clip the electrical wires back on
  • Put the door panel back on

Whether you are a do-it-yourself person or just want to make sure the locksmith does a great job, knowing how to replace a car lock is valuable knowledge.

Can Locksmiths Make Keys for Cars?

An option for getting into your car if your keys are locked in it is to have a locksmith make a new key for the car. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to provide the VIN or Vehicle Identification Number to the locksmith. Using the VIN, the locksmith will be able to make a new key that will fit the lock.

The online automotive specialist,, in an article titled “The High Cost of Car Key Replacement” provides an in-depth explanation about different types of keys for modern vehicles and how they are replaced. The article also tells the cost of key replacement in California, and so, with that information, you can approximate the cost wherever you are.

To get a new key, you may have to prove that you own the car. Here is a list of some of the information you may need to provide to a locksmith to get a new key made:

  • VIN
  • Keycode from owner’s manual or inside front door panel
  • Title
  • Vehicle registration with the VIN and your name on it
  • Insurance ID card with your name and the VIN

This may seem like a great deal of hassle to get a new key made, but it is all in the interest of protecting owners of cars from thieves. You wouldn’t want a thief to be able to call a locksmith and ask them to make a key for your car, would you?


How to Unlock Your Car with Keys Locked Inside: Roadside Assistance

Other than mechanical means or a locksmith, the other most common way to get rescued from being stranded when you lock your keys in your car is to contact a roadside assistance service.

In the table below, reviews the most common roadside assistance service providers and gives a comparison and details about the automotive first aid provider:

Provider Price
AAA $38 – $164
Better World Club $58 – $98
Carchex $60 – $110
AARP $64 – $84
OnStar $300 – $756


Some vehicle insurance companies also offer roadside assistance. A few that do include Allstate and Progressive. Please check with your insurance agent to see if your insurance company does offer roadside assistance and how much it costs. Depending on the benefits the service provides, and how much it costs, this may be the best option for roadside assistance in case of an automotive emergency.

USAA is a roadside assistance provider that is only available to members of the United States military or veterans.

There are several choices when it comes to roadside assistance. Most offer similar services at a comparable price. The service areas and the discounts offered by the provider might be what differentiates them, and since the desirability and value of discounts are personal, it is up to the individual which roadside assistance service provider will best fit your needs.

Most traditional roadside assistance such as AAA and AARP providers charge a monthly or annual service fee, and some have requirements such as having membership in a certain club or having reached a certain age.

Mach1 Services Lock Out Service

Mach1 is a new type of roadside assistance provider. Mach1 does not charge a service fee based on a time period or require membership or a subscription.

Instead, Mach1 offers an app and a phone number that connects people who have car trouble, such as being locked out of their car, with vetted and nearby automotive first aid assistance. To stay in business, Mach1 charges a usage fee every time you use the app.

When you lock yourself out of your car, no longer do you have to dig through mounds of contact information or worry about the integrity of the service person who eventually shows up. When you use the Mach1 app, it opens the door to a network of providers who have been vetted, tested, and reviewed for honesty and professionalism.

The communication with your rescuer will be in real-time, and so you can gauge how quickly the rescuer will arrive.

Using a universal lockout kit, Mach1 service providers offer lockout service in a variety of ways:

  • Using specialized tools such as foam wedges, forcing the door open enough to unlock it
  • Picking the lock
  • Rekeying the lock
  • Towing the vehicle to a dealership

If the lock needs to be replaced, they can also do that.

Mach1 Services Overview

In addition to lockout services, Mach1 offers:

  • Flat tire changing and fixing
  • Tow truck
  • Dead Battery
  • Fuel Delivery
  • Mobile Mechanic
  • Lockout
  • Trip Inspection
  • Non-emergency services such as VIN inspections

Designed to be similar to Uber or Lyft for broken-down vehicles, the Mach1 app offers nearly immediate, hassle-free assistance without waiting, dealing with dispatch or a middleman, or service providers who are overwhelmed or unprofessional. When you are broke down along the side of the road, waiting for unknown and untested help such as a random number that you found online adds immensely to your stress and discomfort.

With Mach1, both the requestor and the requestee use GPS to ensure that the closest available provider is requested and the requestor knows exactly how far away the service provider is and how long it will take until help arrives.

In the stress of having a vehicle emergency or a breakdown, the easy-to-use app and knowing that reliable assistance is only minutes away is such a relief.

Paying the automotive emergency rescuer is now stress and hassle-free thanks to the payment system set up within the app. There is no fumbling for cash in the dark or wondering if the tow truck driver will accept a credit card. There is no worrying about exorbitant charges as an unethical locksmith holds the continuation of your trip hostage.

Another benefit of using Mach1 is the in-app communication system. In Mach1, there is no middleman or dispatcher. You will provide information about your emergency, where you are, and payment will be finalized without trying to work through a dispatcher or a secretary.

After numerous horror stories of unscrupulous emergency roadside assistance people, it is a relief to have competent and knowledgeable providers who have been screened and evaluated for desirable qualities in roadside assistance professionals.

There is no billing office or invoicing. All the payments and billing is done completely through the app after the payment is agreed upon by both the service provider and the person needing the service.

Another benefit of Mach1 is that when you call an emergency assistant provider, you will be supporting independent operators who give back to the local community. Being a large or franchised provider is not necessary to be a service provider with Mach1.

Although currently limited to mainly the south and the central United States, Mach 1 is growing exponentially and is spreading rapidly around the country. Mach1 hopes to be across the country soon.

Having a vehicle emergency and being stranded rarely happens on nice, temperate days. It is either scorching hot, raining, or in the middle of the night. You are usually in a desperate hurry, that is why you locked your keys in the car, and help seems very distant and impersonal.


Being locked out of your car is a stressful situation whether you are stranded on the road somewhere, in a parking lot, or at home. Especially if you have somewhere to be! You need quick, professional service from people who are prompt and honest.

With its innovative system to connect vetted and tested lockout service providers with customers who need lockout service, Mach1 can make your lockout as least difficult as possible. It’s also a great service to keep in mind for other roadside assistance situations.