What to do if you’ve locked keys in your car

keys left inside a vehicle

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted December 20, 2023

Locking your keys in the car can be very frustrating. From prevention to who to call, tips on how to deal with locking your keys inside your vehicle.

Locking your keys in the car by mistake is more common that you might think. RACV Emergency Roadside Assistance (ERA) received over 14,366 callouts for drivers who accidentally locked their keys inside the car between November 2022 and October 2023.

While this can certainly be a frustrating experience, there are steps you can take to reduce the anguish and disruption caused by locking your keys inside your vehicle.

From keeping your keys safe to ensuring you have adequate roadside assistance coverage, here's your guide on what to do if you're locked out of your car.

Tips on what to do if you’re locked out of your car

Is locking keys in the car common?

When it comes to locking keys in the car, certain situations tend to occur more frequently. RACV Regional Manager Automotive Services Phillip Mack says most lockout incidents happen while people are away from the home, such as the supermarket, work, or shopping centres. Some common scenarios for how keys end up locked inside the car include:

  • Giving car keys to children: Many lockouts occur when parents hand over the car keys to their children, either to hold or play with, who may accidentally lock them inside the vehicle.
  • Placing keys in the boot: Individuals may place their keys in the boot while unloading or loading items into the car. This can lead to unintentional lockouts if the boot closes before retrieving the keys.

What are some ways to prevent locking keys in the car?

To avoid the disruption and stress caused by having the car locked with keys inside, Mack recommends:

  • Using a lanyard: Attach your keys to a lanyard and wear it around your neck or wrist. This way, he says, you'll always have them within reach and reduce the risk of misplacing them.
  • Keep your keys in your possession: Make it a habit to keep your keys in your pocket or bag. Mack advises to avoid placing keys on seats, cup holders, or any other part of the vehicle where they can easily be forgotten.
  • Avoid treating keys as toys: It's essential to educate children about the importance of not playing with car keys. Mack says it is imperative to stress that keys are not toys, and should be handled responsibly.


ERA RACV coming to help

Leaving keys inside the car can be a frustrating experience, but there are ways to both prepare and remedy for the situation. Image: Supplied


What to do if you lock your keys in the car

If you find yourself locked out of your car, Mack advises to follow these steps:

  • Contact your emergency roadside assistance provider, who provide guidance and support during this situation while on their way to assist you.
  • Check for spare keys: Determine if you have a spare key available. This could be with a family member, friend, or stored in a secure location.
  • Verify all doors: Ensure that all doors, including the tailgate (if applicable), are locked. Additionally, check if any windows are open, as this may provide an alternative entry point.

How to get help when you need to most

Trained patrols can use multiple techniques to access vehicles, and may assist if you've locked your keys inside your vehicle, depending on the circumstances.

In some cases, a locksmith may be required depending on the member's entitlements when necessary.