It’s a situation likely to happen to all of us at some point. You walk towards your car, dig a hand into your bag or jacket to pull out your car key and discover they’re not there. Panic sets in as you realise you’re locked out of your car and will now be late for that important meeting.

Luckily, car manufacturers have safeguards in place in new cars to prevent your car being locked with your keys on the inside. But for most of us, accidently locking our car keys in the boot or back seat is still a real possibility. And even if you can’t lock your keys in the car, you could still lose or misplace them, leaving you stranded.

The next time you find yourself locked out of your car, here are a few things to consider.


Who else has a key to your car?

In our panic we often forget that most cars come with one or two sets of spares. Take a deep breath and think about who might have a spare key your car – perhaps your partner, parents or friend? If they’re nearby, the simplest thing would be to give them a call and get them to drop off the spares to let you back into your car.

How urgently do you need to get into your car?

While being late for a meeting is a hassle, it’s not really an emergency situation and you might have some time to wait it out for help to arrive.

But if you’ve locked a child or a pet in your car along with your keys, it’s essential you act quickly. Even on cloudy days, the temperature in a locked car can rise quickly and cause distress to small animals and children.

In this case, you should call emergency roadside assistance and let them know of the urgency of the situation. Your operator may also call emergency services (such as the fire brigade or ambulance) – check with them when you call. If you’re at all concerned about the situation, you can also call emergency services yourself.

Don’t try and break in yourself

The criminals in cop shows make breaking into a car appear easy – MacGyver-ing a latch pick out of a wire hanger and a bit of packing strip. But you can actually do real damage to your car while attempting this.

While saving the call out free for an emergency car locksmith might be appealing, you’ll be less impressed having to shell out thousands to repair a broken door lock.

Roadside assistance versus an automotive locksmith

If you have a membership to roadside assistance, emergency lockout will be included. If you are certain your keys are locked in the car, this may be your best option.

However if your car keys are lost or damaged (for example, they’ve broken off in a lock) then you’ll need to call a mobile locksmith to replace your key.

A mobile locksmith can also help you to repair or replace your fob keys. All modern keys have a remote fob that allows you to lock and unlock your car without putting the key into the lock. Most people think you have to go back to the manufacturer to have these repaired, but a mobile locksmith can duplicate most types of microchipped keys.