open locked truck door

How to Open a Locked Vehicle Door (or how NOT to open!)

Locked out of car or truck? Frustrating! Your first impulse may be to break a window or get a crowbar (or pickaxe)! Or you could try the old wire coat hanger method (if you can still find one!) The problem is that doing it yourself, either out of frustration or by trying to save a few bucks, rather than calling a professional can end up damaging your vehicle and costing a lot more money in the long run. You can do something as simple as destroying the rubber sealing around your door or window or scratching the paint which may lead to peeling and rust. You could also do more damage by breaking your locks or window motor which will lead to costly repairs.

So how do the professionals do it?

The most common method to opening locked car doors is called the wedge and reach. These tools, consisting of small airbags and a bendable pole, are the quickest and easiest way to open a locked vehicle door. Airbags are placed in the car door frame, slowly inflated just enough to create a small gap in which the “reacher” tool can be inserted and unlock the door (similar to the old wire coat hanger method.) This method is quick n’ easy and provides the least chance of damaging the vehicle. Care does need to be taken especially on vehicles with frame-less windows as inflating the airbags too much and break the window.

The next method, although not used as often anymore, is the old slim jim. This is the method you see in all the movies and cop TV shows. The slim jim is a long flat piece of metal with a notch at the end that is slid down into the door frame by the window, jiggled around and “pop” the lock opens. There are a few issues with this method and why it’s not used as often… it just doesn’t work on a lot of new car models, you can damage the door lock and window electronics and motors, and also you can damage airbags that are in many doors of newer cars.

The last method is another one that you’ve see in the movies and that is a “jiggler.” You’ve see it in a TV show where a car thief goes up to a car and he has a ring with lot’s of keys on it and he just starts trying each one and jiggling it until he find one that opens the door. Well these jigglers are just generic “keys” for specific makes and models of vehicles. The same types of cars will usually have similar locks and if you try enough standard options and jiggle them around, especially on worn out locks you just may be able to get it open. Way back in the day when I locked myself out of my Chevy Camaro I was able to open my locked door with the keys from my friends Pontiac Firebird because the locks were similar and had been worn down just enough. But, jigglers won’t work in most newer models of vehicles do to better locks, precision laser cut keys and keys with transponder computer chips.

So what are you going to do the next time you’re locked out of your car? Hint: Don’t use a pickaxe! I recommend call a professional! The cost to open a locked car door can vary depending on time of day, availability, and the specific make and model of your vehicle. But give us a call 24 hours a day for a quote and ask if we have any special offers!

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