How to Break Into a Car

Three Methods:Breaking Electric or Automatic LocksBreaking Manual LocksBreaking in Through the Trunk

If you've locked your keys in the car, it can be a messy and expensive proposition in getting the car unlocked by a professional. $80 bucks for five minutes of work? Come on. It's not super-difficult to break into vehicles with automatic locks, manual locks, or even check to see if you can get in through the trunk, all free methods available to you. Don't resort to breaking a window to get your keys back.

Method 1
Breaking Electric or Automatic Locks

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    Find your tool of choice. The basic method for breaking into a car with automatic locks without damaging anything is to wedge a space in the door and use a long poker to hit the lock button. It may be crude, but it's more or less exactly what a locksmith will do if you call one, except doing this won't waste you $80 bucks for five minutes of work. To do this, you'll need one wedge and one poker.[1] Possibilities include:
    • The best wedges can include putty knives and door stops, the thinner the better. Ideally, you want to open up only as much space as is necessary to insert your poker. Locksmiths use an inflating balloon to pump air and create space.
    • The best pokers include the antenna from the car, unscrewed, and a straightened wire hanger. You might need a pair of pliers to straighten out the hanger, and consider doubling it up to have better control and pushing power when you get to the lock button. Pretty much any tool that is narrow enough to fit through the window crack and long enough to reach the lock button will work.
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    Wedge the door open. Jam a doorstop or equivalent wedge-like tool into the space between the upper part of the door and the car. Firmly tap the wedge into the door/car space using the heel of your hand.
    • If you are concerned about damaging your car's paint, cover the wedge with cloth or some kind of felted surface to protect the paint before beginning.
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    Insert your rod. The jammed wedge will create a gap between the door and the car body. Insert your rod into the space between the door and the car body. Guide the rod towards the lock button.
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    Press button and unlock. Firmly press the button with your rod. It may take a few tries to get at it, but once you do, you'll have successfully broken into your car. Open the door and retrieve your keys.

Method 2
Breaking Manual Locks

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    Lasso the lock with a coat hanger. The biggest difference between breaking into a vehicle with manual locks is that you have to pull up on the locking pin once you get in if you want to do it manually. Follow the same directions, wedging and poking through the space you create, but then you'll have to carefully pull up to unlock the car.
    • Pushing a button is one thing, but lassoing the pin is much more difficult. You'll have to slip the loop over the head of the lock nub like a noose an pull up to unlock the car. It may take a few tries to get it.
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    Consider using a slim jim, or fashioning your own. A slim jim, otherwise called a lockout tool, is a car tool commonly issued to police officers to help open doors with manual locks. It's used by wedding into the door mechanism itself, between the window and the weather stripping, hooking the locking pin, and pulling it from the inside. If you've got access to a slim jim, it can be a quick fix.
    • Create your own by straightening out a coat hanger, leaving only the curved (hook) end in its original shape. You may need to use needle nose pliers to unwind the coat hanger to straighten it out, and double it over to reinforce it.
    • Note that this method is not recommended for cars with automatic windows and locks. Those cars have a lot of wiring in their doors, which might get damaged in this breaking in process.
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    Pick the passenger side door. There is usually less wiring on the passenger side than on the driver's side door, making it somewhat easier to break in.
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    Insert your tool. Identify the black rubber weather stripping along the lower edge of your car window. The locking mechanism is generally lined up with the lock itself, usually toward the back of the door itself.
    • With your fingers, peel back this rubber strip back from the window slightly to expose the gap between the window and the outer part of the car door. Gently insert your straightened coat hanger, curved end first, into the gap between the window and the weather stripping.[2]
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    Lower the coat hanger in. You should be able to lower the coat hanger into this gap a few inches without resistance, then start feeling for the pin.
    • If you can look at the vehicle's shop manual, you'll be able to have a great sense of where the locking pin will be and how to access it. If you blindly dig around in the door, you do risk messing up the wiring and causing damage. Try to find out where the locking pin is before you insert the slim jim.
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    Find the pin. Move the coat hanger around in the gap until you feel a small pin. This pin can be pulled to disengage the door lock. It will usually be located about 2 inches (5 cm) below the bottom of the window, near the interior door handle.
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    Gently pull the pin towards the rear of the car. When you find the pin, hook it and gently pull. If successful, you will feel the pin move and hear the door unlock. After successfully unlocking the door, gently pull the coat hanger out and open the door to get your keys back.

Method 3
Breaking in Through the Trunk

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    Find the emergency cord. If your trunk is unlocked by any chance, but the cab is locked with your keys inside, open it and look around inside for the emergency open trunk cord that opens into the car. It is often in the trunk "door" or the roof of the trunk.
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    Pull the cord. Once you find the cord, pull it. This will unlock the back passenger seats allowing them to fall forward in some models of car. This is a common feature in some sedans.
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    Crawl in. Once the passenger seats are unlocked, push them forward. Now you can climb into the car through this new entry, and unlock a back passenger door yourself manually.


  • Be careful not to damage your cars paint or weather stripping while breaking in.
  • Before breaking into your locked car yourself, considering calling a locksmith or AAA to come and professionally unlock your door with a "slim jim".


  • Stealing cars is a federal crime. This information is intended solely for the purpose of opening locked doors on cars that belong to you.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire coat hanger or rod
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Wedge or doorstop
  • Cloth or felt to protect paint (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Cars