If you've locked yourself out of your car, you're not alone. AAA said it gets calls from about four million motorists per year, with keys locked in their car and that's half a million more than just a few years ago.
Consumer Reports has some tips on how to quickly and safely get back on the road.
Being in a hurry is one of the most common reasons car keys end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. "In a panic, in a rush, not wanting to be late, locked my keys in the car," one man said.
Don't panic because many gas stations can help as owner Alex Fernandez does by inflating a balloon, then slipping a long hook into the door to unlock it. He has a good record of rescuing keys.
What if you're stuck with no gas station nearby. Well, first think safety. "If you think you are in danger, call 911. The police may be able to unlock your car door themselves or they will find someone else who will," Consumer Reports spokesperson Sarah Goralski said.
If you're in a safe spot, take advantage of AAA or any free roadside assistance program you may have. "You can call a towing service, but make sure that they have the right equipment to unlock your car and keep in mind that you'll probably have to pay for it yourself," Goralski said.
Consider higher-tech solutions like a keypad with a code that comes on some models of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury. Then, there are lockout services like General Motors' Onstar that costs around $200 per year. You call an 800 number and a technician opens the door.
There are also apps that let you open the car with your phone. Of course, that won't work if the phone is in the car with the keys.
An extra key may seem old school, but it works. You can get a discreet metal box attached to the exterior of your car or have a friend keep a key for you.
Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.
(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
Consumer Reports, 7 On Your Side reveals tips on getting keys out of locked car
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