Behind the Wheel

Locked Out? Here’s How to Unlock Your Car with a Smartphone

October 10, 2019
In your rush to make that hot yoga session in time, you grabbed your smartphone but accidentally locked your keys in the car. Now you can see them on the driver’s seat, mocking you. Yep—you’re in quite the pickle.

Hey, don’t beat yourself up, mon ami. Millions of drivers lock themselves out of their cars every year. Heck, I’ve even made that mistake before. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Still, there’s the task of unlocking the car to see to, and it’s certainly not an easy one. Here are some options to unlock the doors so that you can give your car keys a stern talking-to.

Unlock with a Smartphone App

There’s an urban legend going around that you can magically unlock newer cars by calling someone who has your spare key fob. Sorry to burst your bubble, but this doesn’t work. Like, not at all. Remote keyless entry systems operate at a certain frequency, much lower than that of mobile phones, which makes it impossible for a phone to transmit the key fob’s signal to your car. The talented Mythbusters even proved this, and who would dare argue with them?

However, if you’ve got a new-ish vehicle with a remote keyless entry system, you may be able to use a smartphone app to unlock your car. (Thank you, technology!) Here are the most popular car apps to help you on your way.

If You Drive Hyundai

New Hyundai models with Blue Link technology can be accessed via the myHyundai with Blue Link app. To unlock your vehicle, simply open the application, click the “Unlock” button, and enter your pre-set PIN. Voila! This app can even be used to remotely lock and start the vehicle, among other functions.

Download the myHyundai App on Apple iOS or Android.

If You Drive GM/Chevrolet

The myChevrolet App can also be used to unlock your car keys if you’re in a bind. The mobile command center transforms your mobile device into a makeshift remote key fob, allowing you to remote start, stop, lock, unlock, and even activate the horn on your vehicle.

Download the myChevrolet App on Apple iOS or Android.

If You Drive Nissan

The NissanConnect® Services application keeps you connected with your Nissan from anywhere that has a signal. Not only can you remotely start, lock, and unlock your car with Nissan’s app, but you can also review your activity history, monitor your car’s health, and receive notifications when it’s time for maintenance.

Download the NissanConnect® App on Apple iOS or Android.

If You Drive Toyota

The aptly named Toyota App controls your Toyota remotely, alerts you when service is needed, and even sends you notices when auto service deals are available from your local Toyota dealer. The application also works with most smartwatches.

Download the Toyota App on Apple iOS or Android.

If You Drive Subaru

The mySubaru App provides the full unlocking capabilities of a key fob, but with a bunch of added functionality. On select Subaru models with STARLINK, the app allows users to review monthly Vehicle Health Reports, access diagnostics, and activate the Stolen Vehicle Immobilizer feature.

Download the mySubaru App on Apple iOS or Android.

If You Drive Ford

FordPass™ App enables you to make your monthly lease or finance payments, as well as earn complimentary maintenance and rewards for using it regularly.

Download the FordPass App on Apple iOS or Android.

If You Drive Honda

The HondaLink App performs the same actions—it locks and unlocks—and allows you to have Amazon packages delivered directly inside your vehicle.

Download the HondaLink App on Apple iOS or Android.

Other Ways to Unlock Your Car

If you aren’t able to unlock your car with your smartphone app, try these solutions.

Call the Non-Emergency Police Line

The police may sometimes be able to help you unlock your vehicle, but it’s not a guarantee. (They have more important matters to deal with, usually.)

Don’t dial 911—that should be reserved for emergencies only. Instead, dial the local police department. (If you’re in Kansas City, the non-emergency numbers are: 816-234-5111 (Missouri) and 913-596-3000 (Kansas).

Request Roadside Assistance

If you’re leasing or have just purchased a new car, you may already have access to roadside assistance, which makes this an open-shut case. Check your car windows for any decals or stickers that list the roadside assistance contact numbers. Or Google some local places like AAA, Allstate, etc.

Get a Tow Truck

Some towing companies offer lock-out service, but it will likely cost a good chunk of change. When you call tow companies, ask them what their prices are.

Ask the Dealership

Although it’s not the ideal solution, you can request a new key fob or temporary key from your dealer. You’ll have to jump through some hoops to get it, and it won’t be very fast, but it’s an option.

Ask Someone to Get Your Spare Key

If you trust someone to retrieve your spare key fob and deliver it to you, this is the most cost-effective solution to get inside a locked car without damaging it.

Hide a Spare Key

Alternatively, you can purchase a magnetic box to hold your spare key. Latch it somewhere onto the car, out of sight, and hope damaged curbs and potholes don’t knock it off, leaving you with a set of lost car keys.

Call a Locksmith

I suggest hiring a locksmith only as your last option. In addition to potentially being the most expensive solution, the locksmith trade has earned a shady reputation. If you find one online that offers 24/7 emergency lock-out services, be 100% sure to read reviews and guarantee their legitimacy.

Smash That Sucker

If all else fails, or you don’t have time to wait—that next hot yoga session is across town and starts in just 15 minutes—then grab something sharp and take your anger out on the window. Stay safe, shield your eyes, and aim for the corner of the glass. You’ll do massive damage (aka. obliterate it entirely) to the auto glass and make a royal mess; but replacement car windows aren’t that expensive, and there are supposedly contraptions called “vacuums.”

Once you’ve gotten into your car, don’t forget to create a Plan B for next time. I recommend buying a car that can be unlocked with a smartphone, but to each their own. If you’ve got any questions or tips to get locked keys out of a car without damaging the vehicle, leave me a comment. I’m sure my readers will appreciate them, as will I.


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