At some point in your car ownership life you may find yourself having locked the vehicle with your keys in it. This is okay if you have a spare key nearby e.g. if you're close to home or the office where the spare is. However, you may find it happens when you're too far to get the spare key, and you're left at a loss for what to do. Below are some tips that will help you in such situations.
1. The coat hanger trick
If one of your windows was open and the key is somewhere you can see, use a straightened coat hanger (or any wire really with one edge folded into a hook) to reach through the open space and hook into the keyring. Be careful when pulling out so that it doesn't fall down elsewhere. However, don't try to use the coat hanger to pry open the window, as you may ruin the mechanism that powers the window opening and closing. Repairing this would be much more expensive.
2. A locksmith
The best option when locked out of your vehicle is to contact an emergency auto locksmith to see whether they can get to you. The locksmith will come with the proper tools required to open your lock, getting your car unlocked without causing any damage to it. It's important to have a locksmith's number saved in your phone, just in case you need one on short notice. If not, however, you can enter your location online and look for the closest auto-locksmith's contacts to call them. In the interim, or before calling the locksmith, DO NOT try to tamper with the actual car lock as you may damage it.
If you absolutely don't have a locksmith within reach (e.g. travelling on the open road far from civilization), there are two other tricks that may work for you.
3. The wooden wedge trick
As a warning, attempting this manoeuvre could damage your vehicle, so be sure to do it very carefully. Get a wedged piece of wood and insert at the top of the driver's door. Pull out until you hear a 'pop' sound. The wedge allows enough space through which you can insert a metal rod to push the unlock button on the door. If you're lucky, you can get this done without damaging the door.
4. The putty knife trick
You frequently don't walk around with a putty knife in your pocket, but if you have a penknife with multiple blades or you can get a blunt, flat metal rod, they would work as well. In the same way as the wedge above, insert the putty knife in the edge and pull down slowly until you have sufficient room to insert another metal rod and flip the lock button.
5. Other helpful tips
If you find yourself locked out in a potentially dangerous place, get yourself to safety and then call the police. Wait for the patrol team to be sent out before heading back to the vehicle. You can also contact a locksmith and ask him/her to come where you are, not where the car is. Do not try to smash in your window in order to open the lock – windows are a lot more expensive to fix than paying the locksmith.
Consider cutting a spare key and attaching it somewhere on the body of your car. For instance, you can get a magnetic key case which you can attach under the car – somewhere hidden where it won't easily fall off.