Most cars can be locked manually and automatically, but regardless of how you do it, doing so is one of the simplest and most important actions you can take to prevent theft and improve security. You should always lock a locked car after getting out of it and while inside.
Method 1 of 3: Know the Standard Ways to Lock a Car
Step 1. Consult the operator's manual
All cars have manual methods of locking and unlocking their doors, but today the vast majority also have automatic locks. Consult your vehicle's instruction manual to determine what locking mechanisms your car has.
- If you don't have the operator's manual, check the interior of the car for automatic locking buttons. Cars that don't have internal auto insurance probably don't have outside auto insurance either.
- You can also check the car key to determine if the car has automatic locks or not. Vehicles equipped with these locks often have keys with locking buttons, but if the key doesn't have any buttons, you probably won't be able to automatically lock and unlock the car from the outside.
Step 2. Lock the car manually from the inside
When you get into the car, you can usually lock all the doors manually.
- The manual locks can be located on the bases of the window frame or on the side of the door near the handle. Changing the lock to the "down" position usually locks the car, while turning it "up" usually unlocks it.
- When using manual locks, you may need to lock all the doors separately.
Step 3. Internally activate automatic locks
Cars equipped with automatic locks have an automatic locking button near the door handle or on the central control panel.
- These buttons are usually labeled with the image of a traditional padlock. If you press the button towards the image of the closed lock, the car will be locked, but if you move the button towards the image of the open lock, the car will be unlocked.
- In most cases, pressing the automatic lock button from anywhere in the car will close all the doors in the vehicle.
Step 4. Lock the car manually with the key
As long as your car door has a manual lock on the handle, you can manually lock it from the outside.
- Most cars only have locks on the two front doors (driver's side and passenger's side). Some may only have a front door lock on the driver's side.
- Insert the key into the keyhole and turn it into the trunk. If you do, the car should be locked. If you turn it towards the hood, you will unlock it.
- Note that on some cars, the vehicle lock may be reversed. If turning into the trunk doesn't lock the door, try turning it toward the front of the car.
Step 5. Use the lock button on the key
To lock the automatic locks from the outside, you will usually need to use the lock button on the key.
- In most cases, you can clearly identify the lock button with an icon of a closed padlock.
- Most keys also have a separate unlock button marked with an open lock icon.
Step 6. Lock the car with a keyless remote control
In some cases, automatic locks can be operated with a wireless key fob instead of a real key.
- Remote controls are built into key fobs. There may be a padlock icon on the keychain that you can use to lock the car, but this is not always the case.
- Sometimes you will have to keep the key fob close by while you are standing directly next to the vehicle. There should be a button without any markings on the handle of the car. Press the button once to unlock the vehicle and twice to lock it. However, this will only work if the key fob is a certain distance from the vehicle, and this distance may vary by manufacturer and model.
Method 2 of 3: Consider Your Reasons for Locking Your Car
Step 1. Avoid theft
Locking the car limits access. As a result, would-be car thieves will have a harder time breaking into it, making it a less attractive target for theft.
- On average, about half of the cars stolen in both urban and suburban and rural areas are not locked at the time of theft.
- In addition to locking the car, you should also take extra precautions to deter potential thieves from attacking the vehicle. Most thieves will go for an easy target rather than a difficult one, so the less accessible it is, the less likely it will be stolen.
Step 2. Protect yourself
Keeping your car locked while in the vehicle can help prevent hijacking and vehicle theft.
- Anyone with a gun can point it at you while you're in the car. If a potential threat approaches your vehicle without you noticing, you have a better chance of noticing it early and walking away unscathed if the offender wastes time with a locked door.
- You can also protect yourself from kidnapping and car theft by traveling on busy and well-lit roads, especially when it's dark outside. Be as aware of your surroundings as possible and keep your car moving at stop signs and traffic lights so you can get away from potential threats faster.
Method 3 of 3: Take Extra Precautions
Step 1. Keep the windows closed
Keep the windows completely closed. In many cases, open windows allow thieves to open the door.
You shouldn't even leave the window slightly open on a hot day. Depending on the design of the car, it is possible for a thief to remove the safety with a hook or wire and open the car that way
Step 2. Take your keys with you
Regardless of whether you lock the car or not, you must remove all sets of keys from the vehicle and take them with you.
- Approximately 13% of stolen vehicles have keys at the time of the crime.
- If you leave a second set of keys in the car, you should hide them in an unusual and hard-to-reach place. However, experienced car thieves know almost every possible hiding place, so it is better to remove the keys entirely than to hide them.
Step 3. Activate the alarm
If the car is equipped with an alarm, activate it every time you get out of the vehicle.
Even if the car is equipped with a manufacturer's alarm, it may also be a good idea to install a secondary alarm. More layers of security are better than less. Opt for an alarm that activates sirens, horns, and lights for maximum coverage
Step 4. Remove the numeric codes from the key
If potential thieves know what the car key code is, they can possibly make a copy of that key without actually having it. Eliminate the visible signs of the key code to prevent this from happening.
Some keys have the number stamped directly on the key, in which case, you should cover it with a sticker or something similar. In other cases, the key code will be on a separate tag, sticker, or label that can be completely removed from the key
Step 5. Park the car in safe places
Park your car in a garage when possible, especially when you park at home. If you have to park in an open lot, choose the best possible location.
- It is much more difficult for thieves to break into a garage and steal a car, so it is advisable to use your home garage. Make sure both the garage and the car are locked for maximum security.
- When you park your car in an open parking lot, opt for a well-lit area and a parking lot full of cars. Avoid parking between large vehicles that hide your vehicle. More people and better visibility will deter would-be thieves.
- When possible, you should also park near your destination for your own safety.
Step 6. Make the car difficult to tow
Today, some experienced thieves may try to steal the vehicle by towing it. However, there are a few things you can do to make it harder to tow.
- Turn your tires toward the curb when parallel parking. When you park in a driveway or parking lot, turn your tires as far to the side as possible.
- Park the car with the rear end facing the driveway if the vehicle is equipped with rear-wheel drive. The rear wheels will lock up, making it difficult for you to tow. Cars that only have front-wheel drive should park with the front end forward.
- Also use the emergency brake when parking the car.
Step 7. Never leave the car running
Ideally, you should only make it work when you are inside it. Never leave it with the key in the ignition, even if you only need to get out for a minute.
- Thieves steal many cars at ATMs, gas stations, and other similar places when their owners leave the engine running.
- Similarly, thieves steal cars from driveways, streets, and parking lots when their owners leave the vehicle running to warm it up on a cold day.
Step 8. Have several forms of identification
At a minimum, you should carry the vehicle registration with you in your purse or wallet instead of keeping it in your car.
- Having the registration in the car can make it easier for a thief to sell it, and it will also have your home address, giving the thief knowledge of where you live. For the same reasons, you should also have the car owner's title kept at home.
- You should also know the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the car, which will make it easier for you to be identified in the event of theft. Record the VIN on all the windows and take lots of photos of the car with the license plate number visible to show the police.
- Another way that you can make it easier for the police to identify your car is to place identification markers, such as tint and etching markers, around various locations, including the tailgates, spoilers, and under the hood.
Step 9. Hide all valuables
It is best to remove valuables from the car, but if you must have something of value in the vehicle temporarily, make sure it is hidden out of sight.
- While valuables don't make the car easy to get to, they can make it look more tempting.
- Don't hide valuables under a blanket or jacket, as it may seem obvious to many thieves. Don't keep them in the glove compartment or center console either, as most thieves will think of looking there. If you have to leave a valuable item in your car, the best place to do it is in the trunk.
- While you may not necessarily consider it "valuable," you should also remove the remote from your garage door, as it can provide burglars access to your home.