How to unlock a car without the keys

Firstly, all the old fashioned ways simply don’t work. Almost all cars since the start of the millennium, don’t simply lock. They deadlock.

The difference is simple. Once deadlocked, the car handles on the inside are useless, so forget about coathangers and things through a slightly prised door. Even if you can get a grip on the handle, it will not open the car. Nor will any of the window buttons, or central locking buttons work without a key in the ignition, so forget that too. All you will do is sprain the door and damage the door surround, with dents and scratches. The only way in to the car is to pick the lock.

Don’t believe me? Try it. Go to your car right now and get in. Now press the lock button on your remote (twice on a Vauxhall). Your mission is to get out without putting the key in the ignition or pressing the remote. When you are cold / tired / hungry press unlock and get out.

If your car uses a proximity key, leave the key with a trusted friend to lock the car from outside and walk a few metres away – same result.

If your car is old enough to have manually wound windows, that is an entry route, but very hard to do and will still sprain the door.

Forget Nicholas Cage in “Gone in 60 seconds”. A slim metal bar down the side of the window to lift a catch was never easy and is now impossible as the cable is so well protected in the door.

I have heard the old stories involving water into the door springing the lock and tennis balls on the keyhole using pressure to pop the lock. Really? You believe that? Doesn’t work, never did and never will for very simple reasons I can’t even be bothered to explain.

And before you say you have seen it on youtube, what you didn’t see was the guy off camera pressing the car remote.

No, the only, ONLY way to open your car is by picking the lock. Gently. Shoving a screwdriver in and twisting hard leads to a bust car lock (expensive) and making the car impossible for a locksmith to unlock (smashed window time).

Lockpicking is both very easy and very hard. You need the suitable car lockpicks, obviously, but you also need lots of training in their use. In simple terms you need to apply just enough turning force to the car lock to allow you to manipulate the pins or wafers in the car lock, while not too little force otherwise you cannot “wedge” the wafers in place.

Each lock has 8 to 10 wafers and you need to feel the right position for each one and then wedge it in place. Once you have done them all, the lock will turn and there will be no damage at all.

So far, so good, but car manufacturers don’t like you getting work done anywhere except the dealership, who will charge you an awful lot of money to recover your car and then wait up to two weeks while they get a new key made in some distant land. So they are trying to make it harder to pick a car lock and get out the key you locked in the car.

They claim it is a security improvement, and they are right of course. But not much.

Getting into a locked car is the easy bit. After all, If it’s somebody else’s car, and you just fancy the laptop on the passenger seat, you will just put the window through. Stealing a car, getting in and driving off requires the key, or a new key making and programming, which needs expensive equipment and hard earned knowledge, as well as at least 15 minutes of the car alarm screaming. So it’s not really about security is it?

Especially when you realise it still doesn’t stop a half decent auto locksmith.

The Volkswagen Audi Group, for instance, have started using car locks that have side tracks. The key has the usual six or eight cuts on its face, but then also has either one or four cuts along the edges, because the car lock will only open if the wafers are moved normally and also a second set of wafers are moved horizontally.

That is tough car lock picking for the inexperienced car locksmith, but still fairly straightforward for a good car locksmith.

I mentioned proximity car keys earlier and plenty of customers have been surprised to lock their proximity car keys in the car. It’s not hard to do and when we discuss proximity car key systems in another post, I will explain why, but they are even more surprised to find that their car has an ordinary door lock I can access and pick.

If you have a proximity car key, learn now where the door lock is. It is almost always hidden under the end cap of the door handle. Not always the drivers’ door though. On my Renault, it is on the passenger door. You need to know this. In the car key there will be an emergency key blade. Just imagine coming back to your car and finding the car key battery, or worse, the car battery is dead. How would you get in without the emergency key blade.

There you go – easy. All you need is the correct pick set for your make, model and year, some lubricant and lots of patience to learn the system.

The cost? The pick (if you get the right one) is about £40 for a very cheap one that no professional would use (they tend to snap and get stuck in the lock) or £80 for a decent one. Some lubricant for about £7 and a lot of patience and determination.

Oh, and some other way to get around for a few days until you succeed.

Or give me a ring and be on your way, fast.

If you want to see exactly how I pick the lock on a car, have a look at this short video.

Yes, that ugly brute is me and the old car is my daughters’. No camera tricks, no off camera remote pressing. What you see is what I do.


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