Leaving forgotten keys in a car with the insurance on is a frustrating experience. Fortunately, you can use a clothes hanger to solve the problem. If your car has a manual safety on, try threading the hanger into the door frame to remove it. If a window is slightly open and the car has automatic locks, try running a hanger through it to press the electronic unlock button. These methods can damage the vehicle and may not work on modern cars and trucks. Your best option in case you forget your keys in the car is to contact a locksmith or the local police; however, following these steps could help you resolve an unpleasant situation.
Method 1 of 3: Unlock the door
Step 1. Straighten the hanger
Stretch the wire until it is the proper length to reach the unlock button or latch. Unroll the hook part and then straighten it completely, leaving only the curved end in its original shape. To unwind the part of the hanger that turns on itself, you can use a pair of pliers. When finished, you will be left in the shape of a relatively straight line and a curved hook at the end.
- You can wear gloves while unrolling the hanger to avoid pinching your hand.
- Use pliers to unwind the hanger more easily.
Step 2. Fold the hanger into a "V" shape
You will need to bend the hanger hook down to achieve a shape that hooks onto the door latch. Forming a small "V" or check mark will be the easiest way to get through a small space, something that could also help you remove the lock. Use a pair of pliers to bend the end of the straightened hanger until the check mark is narrow enough to hook onto the latch.
- Many latches have a groove or lip that will make it easier to hook them with a hanger.
- You may have to bend the hanger to make different sizes of these shapes, until one of them manages to hook onto the latch.
Step 3. If the window is closed, pry it open
If the window is already a little open, don't do anything. However, if the window is closed, you will need to slide a narrow wedge into the gap between the window and the door frame and spread it out a little. Be very careful when doing this, as applying too much pressure could break it.
- A wider gap, such as the one you would achieve by using a paint scraper, is a better option than a narrow one, such as the one you would create using a screwdriver.
- Once you've opened the window, put something like a folded piece of cloth or rubber in the space to keep it open.
Step 4. Slide the hanger into the gap
Grab the end opposite the "V" shape you made with the pliers. Slide it into the gap that formed between the window and the door frame. If the lock is too close to the back of the car door, you'd better approach it from the front.
- It is important to approach the safety in a direction that allows you to apply pressure as you pull.
- Be careful not to put too much pressure on the window when prying it apart, as you could break it.
Step 5. Engage the latch and pull it up and toward the rear of the car
Wiggle the hanger until it hooks onto the latch, then apply pressure as you pull it toward the rear of the car again. If the latch is too close to the rear of the window, try applying forward pressure as you pull up. Keep applying pressure as you pull the latch up to open the door.
- If you lift the latch, the door will open.
- You will have to test several times to see if the hanger slides off the latch.
Step 6. Press the unlock button if you can reach it
Pass the folded hanger through the slit in the window and press the unlock button with the tip of the wire. Be patient. This could take several tries, depending on the space and specific layout of your car.
- If you have trouble pressing the release button with the tip of the hanger, put a little rubber on the end.
- Wrap a small rubber band around the tip to create friction, or stick a rubber eraser on the wire. This may help you better manipulate the surface of the button.
Method 2 of 3: Pushing or Pulling Locks That Slide
Step 1. Straighten the hanger and fold it again as needed
To reach the slide lock and push or pull it, you will need to straighten the hanger and then bend it again to the correct shape. Depending on your car, you may have to fold it several times or just a few times.
- You may have to guess and check the proper folds on the hanger a couple of times to make sure you got it right.
- Try not to bend it too much, as this will reduce your ability to directly press or pull the slide lock.
Step 2. Bend the hanger to make it smaller or make a short lip to push or pull the latch
If you have to pull the slide lock to unlock the vehicle, you will need to bend the end of the hanger into a hook shape that you can hook onto the lip. If you have to push it, you will need to bend the tip in such a way that you can apply the necessary force on it to push it.
- Use a pair of pliers to make a small, sturdy hook or lip.
- The hanger will need to be very thin if you are going to slide it through a gap in the door frame.
Step 3. Slide the hanger between the door and door frame
If you cannot pry the window away from the door frame slightly, you will need to slide the hanger through the narrow space between the door and its frame. The frame and the door are separated by a thin layer of waterproofing that can be damaged in the process. Push the hanger through it and into the car.
- Some vehicles have an angle that will not allow the hanger to pass through. In that case, you will have to find a way to separate the window from the door.
- If you break the waterproofing layer, you will need to replace it or the door seal will be damaged.
Step 4. Have a friend guide you from the passenger side
Once the tip of the hanger is inside the cab of the car, you will not be able to see the slider for the door lock from your location. Ask a friend to stand on the passenger side and guide you by looking through the window.
- You can find insurance on your own, but having some help could make the process a lot easier.
- Be patient and keep trying until you can hook or press the slider.
Step 5. Press or pull the control to open the door
Once you put the hanger on the control, push or pull it to open the door. This may take several tries and you may have to bend the hanger several times, in order to get to the slider from the correct angle.
- Be patient and keep trying until you are able to engage or depress the slide lock.
- Be careful not to damage the waterproofing layer while moving the hanger.
Method 3 of 3: Make a Thin Pick with a Hanger
Step 1. Straighten the hanger but leave a hook at the end
As with other methods, you will have to unroll the hanger and straighten it, except for the bottom part. Use a pair of pliers to form a short hook at the end. Leave only about 1/2-inch (2.5 cm) or less as the flange for the hook, and make the rest straight.
- You may have to bend the hook a couple of times to shape it correctly.
- Make sure the rest of the hanger forms a straight line.
Step 2. Slide it between the window and the weatherstrip
There should be a black rubber weatherstrip along the bottom edge of the car window. Pull it back slightly from the window with your finger, then carefully insert the curved end of the hanger into the gap that has formed. You should be able to lower the hanger into this space a few inches without encountering much resistance.
- You may need to replace the weatherstrip if it becomes damaged in the process.
- It may be easier to insert the hanger with the hook facing towards the front or rear of the vehicle.
Step 3. Rotate the hanger so that the hook is facing inward
With the hanger and hook inserted into the door, turn until the hook is facing into the car so that you can hook the latch onto the door. It can be difficult to determine how the hook looks inside the door, so it may be best to mark one side of the hanger with a marker to make it easier to locate.
- The hook must face inward to grasp the latch.
- You may have to try multiple times for this method to work.
Step 4. Move the hanger from side to side until you see the latch move
As you move the hanger, it will come into contact with a latch or pin that controls the door latch and lock. Try pulling up on the latch or bar to disengage the door latch. This is usually located about 2 inches (5.1 cm) below the bottom of the window, near the inside door handle.
- This method may not work on all vehicles as interior door designs may vary depending on the type of car.
- Don't use too much force when pulling the pin or bar up. Since you won't be able to see the inside of the door, you may be snagging the wrong component.
- On some vehicles, you will need to pull the pin or latch toward the rear of the car and not up.
Step 5. Pull up or back in the area that the latch moves
If you see the latch move slightly when your hook engages a latch or pin inside the door, try pulling up or back to unlock it. If you hook the latch properly, you probably won't have to use too much force to move it.
Pulling up and toward the rear of the car can help you pry the latch or pin, as well as improve your chances of making the correct and precise move for your vehicle
Step 6. Keep trying and re-bend the hook as needed
This method is extremely difficult as you will not be able to see what is going on inside the door and all vehicles have slightly different designs. You will have to keep trying until you can properly engage the latch and pull it hard enough to open the door.
- Be careful not to damage the door weatherstrip.
- You may need to re-bend the hook if you pulled too hard on the wrong part on the inside of the door.