How to Break Into a Car

How to Break Into a Car

For that time you accidentally lock your keys in the truck, or there's a zombie outbreak and you're in a rush, we'll be there for you.

Let's get started.

Most cars that are more than ten years old will have vertical, push-button locks. These are locks that come straight out of the top of the car door and have rods that are set vertically inside the door.

These locks can be easily opened with a wire hanger or a SlimJim, or picked, as described below.

Newer cars have horizontal locks, which emerge from the side of the car door are attached to horizontal lock rods.

These are more difficult to manipulate without a special tool but can also be picked.

How to Break Into a Car With a Hanger

How to Break Into a Car With a Hanger

Everyone's favorite 'in-a-pinch' tool.

1. Take a wire hanger and bend it into a long, 'J,' shape.

2. Square off the bottom of the 'J' so the square is 1 1/2" - 2" inches wide.

3. Slide the hanger into the door, between the window and the weather stripping.

Open the door by feel. This will require a 'trial-and-error' approach.

Feel for the end of the button rod and, when you have it, pull it up to open the lock.

Proceed to drive away in bliss.

How to Break Into a Car With a SlimJim

A SlimJim is a thin piece of spring steel with a notch on one side, which makes it easy to pull the lock rod up.

They can be purchased at most automotive supply stores or online.

1. Slide the tool gently between the window and the weather stripping.

Some cars will give you only a quarter of an inch of access to the lock linkage, so go slowly and be patient.

2. Do not jerk the tool by trying to find the lock rod.

This can break the lock linkage, and on cars with auto-locks, it can easily rip the wires in the door.

3. Move the tool back and forth until it grabs the lock rod and then gently move it until the lock flips over.

How to Pick a Car Lock

How to pick a car door lock

1. You will need two tools--one to manipulate the pins or wafers inside the lock core and one to turn the cylinder.

You can use a small Allen wrench to turn the lock and a long bobby pin to move the pins and wafers.

Keep in mind that many car locks are harder to pick than door locks.

They often have a small shutter that covers and protects the lock, and this can make the process more difficult.

2. While the bobby pin is in the lock, exert constant and light turning pressure with the wrench.

This is the only way to discern if the pins or wafers--which line up with the notches and grooves in a key--are lined up correctly.

Most locks have five pins.

3. Move the bobby pin to manipulate the pins or wafers until you feel the lock turn smoothly.

Alternate Method

Use a key from a different car from the same manufacturer.

Using a different car key from the same manufacturer to get into a car

There are surprisingly few lock variations, and the alien key may just work.

We've used this method in the past with great success.

A Few Additional Words

Throughout this article, we are, of course, assume you are seeking to enter your own car.

Pour Conclure

Next time you find yourself locked outside of your car or a friend's car, whip out your smartphone and refer to this article.

Or be extra preppy and save it in your notes.

When push comes to shove, you'll do just fine without it though--our minds are amazing things and we're sure it'll all flood back to your memory if you really do find yourself in this situation. 

The information presented to you here today is from Joshua Piven's book, The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook - an excellent on-the-go addition to any hiking pack or bug-out-bag.

However, something like the SAS Survival Handbook will be more practical for everyday use while outdoors.


-Alexander @ Survival Cat


If you're gearing up for your next adventure, take a peek at our catalog and see if there is anything you'll need to accompany your travels.


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