While there are many things that can go wrong while driving around in your car, locking yourself out ranks near the top of the list for the worst things that can happen. Unless you have a spare key handy, there is little you can do in the moment once you shut your car door and realize your car keys are still hanging in the ignition. The following tips are great to keep in mind when you are out driving, and they could potentially save you the trouble and embarrassment of locking yourself out of your car.
1. Keep your keys on you
The first rule when driving your vehicle is to never leave your keys in the car when you exit. Always put them in your pocket or purse, or at least have them in hand when you get out. One common scenario is to set them down in the seat and then forget about them. To avoid this, when you remove them from the ignition, either hold onto them or place them somewhere safe, such as in your pocket.
- Tip: Using a brightly colored key chain can also help you keep track of your keys. Some other colorful items to use to help you keep track of your keys include brightly colored lanyards, charms, and other decorative items.
2. Always use the fob to lock the doors
Another way to avoid locking your keys in your car is to only use the fob on the key to lock the door. This is easy for keys that have the locking mechanism built in. Just make sure that when you go to lock and unlock the car door to only use the buttons on the key. Using this method, you should always have your keys on you, and if you don't, then you won't be able to lock your vehicle doors.
- Tip: When you get out of your car, before closing the door, do a quick check to make sure you have your car keys in your hand, in your pocket, or in your purse.
3. Replace batteries in the fob
Sometimes the key fob might not work when unlocking your vehicle. In cases such as this, check the key fob battery to make sure it is not dead. If it is, it is a simple matter of replacing the battery, which you can purchase at many auto part stores.
- Tip: In addition to the batteries in the key fob not working and needing replacement, you might also have a dead battery in your vehicle. If this is the case, you might have to unlock the door lock by inserting the key. After replacing the vehicle battery, check to make sure that your key fob works.
4. Have spare keys made
A good option to prevent locking yourself out of your vehicle is to have spare keys made. Depending on the type of keys you have determines how expensive this is. For regular keys without a fob, or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip, you can simply have a key made at a hardware store. For keys with fobs and RFIDs, you need to go to your local dealership to have a spare made.
In addition to having spare keys made, you need to have easy access to them when you lock yourself out of your vehicle. Places to put spare keys include:
- At home in an easily accessible place, including the kitchen or in your bedroom.
- While it might seem redundant, you can keep a spare key in your pocket or purse.
- Another place that you can place your key is hidden somewhere on your vehicle, usually in a magnetic box stuck in an inconspicuous area.
5. Subscribe to OnStar
Another great way to avoid locking yourself out of your vehicle is to subscribe to OnStar. The subscription service OnStar offers a variety of systems that help you with your vehicle, including emergency services, security, and navigation. Another service it offers is the ability to unlock your vehicle remotely via the OnStar operator or through the use of an app on your smartphone.
6. Join an auto club
You can also take advantage of a variety of services offered by your local automotive club by joining for a small annual fee. Many auto clubs offer a free unlock service with the annual membership. All it takes is a call, and a locksmith is sent to your location. The service plan level determines how much the club covers, so choose the plan that best works for you when applying.
7. Have a locksmith's number handy for when you do lock your keys in the car
A final option is to have the number for a locksmith on hand either in your contact book or programmed into your phone. That way, if you do lock yourself out of your car, help is only a phone call away. While you have to pay the locksmith out of your own pocket as opposed to an auto club covering most or all of the expense, you also do not have the worry of a yearly auto club membership.
There are many ways to avoid locking yourself out of your own car, ranging from having spare keys made to subscribing to OnStar and installing their equipment in your vehicle. If you have any questions about your car door locks, you can always Ask a Mechanic for more information and guidance.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as 7 Tips to Prevent Being Locked Out of Your Car and was authored by Cheryl Knight.