Never Get Locked Out Your Car: Drill Hole Through Key, Screw To License Plate

On Meghann’s post about a reader who fell for a locksmith scam, the aptly named commenter “yetiwisdom” left a great tip for never getting locked out your car again:

TIP: get a cheap key dupe made at the hardware store and drill a hole through it (or get your fave local handyman to do it). Then place said key behind your license-plate with screw through hole. This will keep it secure and it’s rare that you’ll be stranded without something that can be used (dime, piece o’metal by road, helpful person’s screwdriver) to remove the screw and access the key. This $2 fix has saved my bacon many times. Those magnetic boxes are OK but they can dislodge when you hit a pothole.

Brilliant.However, as other commenters noted, if you live in an area known for license plate thefts or your key has a theft-deterrent device in it, you’ll want to explore other options.

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. se7a7n7 says:

    Here’s a tip that’s worked well for me… Drive a piece a shit car, you don’t even have to lock it! I Drive a ’85 Chevy Blazer, the windows, radio, horn and locks don’t work. It’s hasn’t been stolen yet, I can only hope it will be some day.

    • Kishi says:

      @se7a7n7: I had similar luck when I drove a fifteen year old minivan. Man, I kept hoping someone would steal it, but no luck.

      Someone once asked me why I didn’t lock the door, and I explained that if someone was desperate enough to steal it, they must really have needed a car…

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @se7a7n7: once upon a time i owned a 1984 beat to hell celica with a smashed front end. and i left it unlocked all the time. and someone broke one of my windows out to try to steal a box of granola bars [that was actually empty] off the driver’s seat. there is no surefire deterrent

      • shorty63136 says:

        @catastrophegirl: Daaaaaaaamn! That’s mess up, man!

        The GRANOLA bars??? *smh*

        I’da been mad they went for the granola bars and not, y’know, the entire car.

      • fjordtjie says:

        @catastrophegirl: so you mean they broke a window when the car was unlocked? to get granola bars? haha! that theif deserves an award!

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          @fjordtjie: he got one. free housing and meals for 90 days. he did it in front of an undercover cop

        • Hyman Decent says:

          @fjordtjie: Yeah, a Darwin Award.

          • pb5000 says:

            @Hyman Decent: my family had an old geo metro that didn’t lock, required no key and got us teens from point A to point B with no problems. We had it for a few years and my parents say they sure got their $800 out of that car.

          • eXo says:

            @Hyman Decent: um, no. those are reserved for those who manage to thin out society by removing themselves from it. Simply breaking an unlocked window for granola bars just makes you stupid. Now.. had he actually maimed or killed himself in the process, then he can be nominated ;)

            • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

              @exo: he busted up his hand pretty good, spraying my stuff with DNA evidence… but no, didn’t manage to remove himself from the gene pool.

            • Hyman Decent says:

              @exo: Yeah, I know. I meant, he deserves to get a Darwin Award eventually.

      • silkyjumbo says:

        @catastrophegirl: a few years ago, someone broke a window in my 1985 nissan maxima and stole ONLY THE SILVER CHANGE out of the middle console. i had owned the car for about 3 weeks at the time, so i hope they enjoyed that 85 cents.

        • Con Seannery says:

          @silkyjumbo: We left a car unlocked one time in the driveway, came out Christmas morning, someone took the change holder out of it and my grandmother’s car, too. They might have made of with, ohh, $1.50.

    • katylostherart says:

      @se7a7n7: this chick i knew had her 89 honda something or other stolen. it does not always work.

      • jeebussez says:


        Hondas are actually worth something. Their parts are worth quite a bit on the black market as they reuse many of the same parts for many very popular models.

    • Heresy Of Truth says:

      @se7a7n7: Hey! That’s my strategy. I have more rust than paint on my truck. It’s older than some of my coworkers. It’s got a great engine in it, but I can leave the key in it, and it will still be there when I get out of a store.

    • Kay Bee says:

      @se7a7n7: The problem with the unlocked junker is that you can’t allow yourself to accidentally leave something valuable in it. I went to a high school where everybody needed laptops – I’d guesstimate 3% lost their laptops in unlocked vehicles by leaving them visible in their unlocked trucks, or a window a-jar, or forgot it somewhere!
      I don’t get how you could ever not think about that $$$ laptop you got… my pc’s data are more valuable to me than retail/street value!

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @se7a7n7: isn’t having a non-functional horn illegal in most places?
      how do you even pass inspection?

    • bishophicks says:


      That’s my strategy. I drive a 9 year old Corolla. My wife thinks I’m crazy for leaving it unlocked with the windows down on hot days. Nobody wants it. Except me, of course. It gets 40 mpg, costs $50/month to insure, runs great and I don’t have a car payment.

    • -emory- says:

      @se7a7n7: Yup works miracles for me! 89′ toyota pickup, I routinely leave the doors unlocked, sometimes the windows down. I figure people will be more likely to feel sorry for me and throw money in than steal the car!

      • cellardoor (quickly swingin' shut on Bush's term) says:

        @-emory-: Really? I have an 89 toyota pickup that is now beat to hell from living on the streets of SF, and people have broken in to it, tried to steal it, offered money for it, etc. This has been going on for years. *touching wood that car will be there when I use it next*

  2. BeeBoo says:

    It’s dumb enough leaving something that costs $15 to $75 thousand on the street but even dumber to leave a key to it anywhere somebody might look. This is a really stinky idea. If you frequently lock your keys in the car, keep a spare in your wallet or on a chain around your neck.

    • tmed says:


      I’ll accept the chain around the neck idea, but the wallet idea just doesn’t win for me.

      Steal a wallet + bonus car. If you lock you keys in your car / lose your keys often enough to have this save your bacon several times, then you have probably misplaced your wallet once or twice.

      • BeeBoo says:

        @tmed: Yeah, you have a point, but I think 90% of the time the keys are just locked in the car, not actually lost. I drove a car for about 20 years and locked my keys in at least 5 times but I have never lost my wallet.

        • zekedms says:

          @BeeBoo: I’m not too worried about that if my wallet is stolen, really. I’m worried about what’s in my wallet. Besides, are they really likely to pick out my car from the parking lot by the key in my wallet with no logos or identifying marks on it?

          Worst case is they’re very, very dumb thieves and come to my house to take my car, but I can easily change the locks before that possibility.

          Having the wallet-key has saved my bacon FAR more times than I’d like to admit, and it also saved me the time my normal key broke in the lock!

      • proskills says:

        @tmed: It would be fine for my car, it won’t even start without having remote to disable the anti-theft.

      • PinkBox says:

        @tmed: Most women put their keys in their purse when they get out of their cars, soit wouldn’t really make a difference if I kept a spare key in my wallet if someone stole my purse.

        Having the spare would be handy.

      • RunawayJim says:

        @tmed: What are the chances that someone can find your car? Chances are, if your wallet is stolen, you’re nowhere near your car to begin with (usually happens in a city where your car is in some garage or on the street nowhere near you). Having a key in my wallet has saved me a few times with my first car, which allowed me to lock the car with the key in the ignition (no warning that it was there when I opened the door). I had a VW that didn’t allow you to lock the driver’s door without the key, and every other car I had emitted an annoying tone when the key was in the ignition and the door open.

        The chances of having your wallet stole are far less likely than locking your keys in your car or losing them somewhere.

        @proskills: So if you don’t regularly carry around a purse or man-bag to keep the spare, what would you do? You can’t exactly fit a fob in a wallet.

    • Kay Bee says:

      @BeeBoo: those numbered keypads were neat back in the 90s, I got one for my house – no fumbling thru the keychain and it’s been 8 months and no battery replacement req. yet.
      In middle school kids would wear a house key necklace or wrist bungee cord. Looked dorky.

    • blackmage439 says:

      @BeeBoo: What my Saturn has for a backup key has saved my ass more than once, and it’s the smartest idea I have ever seen.

      My backup key is a plastic facsimile attached to a credit card sized plastic card. The key will let you unlock the doors, and although I have yet to try it, I doubt it would start the car. I keep that card in my wallet at all times. I’ve unlocked my car at least a half dozen times with that thing.

      If I get my wallet stolen, the last thing I’m worried about is that card.

    • arl84 says:

      @BeeBoo: Agreed. Sorry, but it’s never a good idea to “hide” keys anywhere. Especially now that this is on the internet, how many car thieves read the consumerist? I know now that if I’m ever tryin to break into a car, I’m gonna check that plate.

      • stuny says:

        As cool as Consumerist is, we represent a very small fraction of the car-owning population. If all of us manage to remember this tip and go outside and start checking all the license places for keys, we are all going to be tired and bored very soon. Here is a tip that can be spread far and wide across the Interwebs, if you want to steal a car, throw a rock through the window. There. The secret is out.@arl84: @TheWillow:

  3. TheWillow says:

    Isn’t this one of those tips that stops being useful as soon as it gets publicized?

  4. RAREBREED says:

    My first car was an 87 Dodge Omni. I installed a deck in the glove compartment and locked that, but not the car. Using a key to open the doors was just too much of a pain.

  5. infmom says:

    I used to hope someone would notice the Blaupunkt stereo in my 78 Accord and steal it. It had a built in 8-track player. I left the car unlocked on the street all the time, but no dice.

    As for the locksmith scam, ye gods, just pay for an annual membership to the AAA. They’ll take care of that kind of thing. And if you don’t have one of those fancy chip key sets, you can get a plastic credit card key from the AAA that will let you in the door (not supposed to be used as an ignition key but I’ve managed it a time or two).

    • ToadKillerDog says:

      I have a membership with AAA (great investment but enrolls you in the “I am an old Fart” category). Since I routinely toss all the weird correspondence from AAA, could you enlighten me about the plastic credit card key?

      • amuro98 says:


        AAA (and I guess others as well) can carve your key into a piece of plastic about the same size and thickness of a credit cards.

        The idea is that you then keep this in your wallet as an emergency key to unlock your door. However with so many cars using electronic keys (computer chips in the key itself) I don’t know if they still offer this service or not. Certainly couldn’t hurt to ask at your local AAA office.

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @infmom: we bought a Lexus in 2005… one of the things they provided us was a “flat key” that fit in a thick credit card shaped holder (probably 2-3mm thick)
      you could pop out the key to unlock the doors and use in the ignition, and the “card” even had the computer chip in it (you just have to wave it near the ignition when you try to turn over the car)

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @Gstein: The wave in front of the chip reader thing is something I wish I had known before keying the woodgrain out of frustration! Thanks for the tip!

      • Michelina says:

        @Gstein: My Mom bought a Pontiac Grand AM new in 1991 that came with one of those punch out flat keys in a credit card shape. I think it’s funny that until you mentioned you had one for a 2005 car I hadn’t seen one since. She gave me the car when I went to college and unfortunately the one time I locked my keys in the car I also locked in my purse where the flat key was located.

  6. Anonymous says:

    If your car uses a key fob to unlock the doors, and you have a spare one, you can have someone at home use the extra key fob over a phone to unlock your car. Just have your cell phone near the door of the car and have the person on the other end hit the unlock button on the key fob near the mic on their phone. Opens the doors right up. Of course this assumes you didn’t lock your cell phone in your car too.

  7. dcarrington01 says:

    I purchased a Hitch Safe and it works great, i can keep a spare transmitter for the alarm and a key in there (wrapped up in sealed plastic bag)

  8. rtipping says:

    I have one of those punch key jobs plus i split the door opener and the ignition on to two separate key rings.
    I figure if I lock myself out again I should do the world a favor and inhale mace.

  9. homerjay- Smiling politely says:

    Great, now I have to carry around a screwdriver just in case I lock my keys in my car.

  10. RageTowers says:

    Great, now everyone that reads this will know where we hide our keys!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Locking your car is just bad news anyway. The best thing to do is to get in the habit of never, ever leaving anything of value inside. If someone is going to steal it, they can easily get in. If someone wants to take what’s inside, they can rummage around to their heart’s content and not find anything.

    Or, you can never, ever leave anything of value in the car except $4 in change and have your window get busted out for that $4 in change, costing you $165 to repair. Your choice.

  12. TechnoDestructo says:

    Get a car which makes it difficult to lock yourself out. Many (all?) Hondas and Toyotas unlock the driver’s door when it closes, so you have to lock it from the outside. As long as you don’t have small children to lock themselves in the car, this will prevent most lock-outs.

    You can also keep a spare car key in your wallet. I made a wallet once which had a key pocket in it. The fact that I no longer have this wallet highlights the weakness of this approach…lose your wallet, lose your key. But I never locked myself out of my car or my room (“do not duplicate” my ass) when I had this.

    • William C Bonner says:

      @TechnoDestructo: I grew up with Hondas. You just hold the handle while closing the door and the door lock easily. The problem is that it become second nature, in that’s the only way you close the door.

      I’ve now got a BMW that won’t let me inside-lock the drivers door and close it without unlocking at all, but I managed to lock my keys in the back while I was loading groceries a couple of years ago.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @William C Bonner: Yep, Bimmers are great for preventing you from locking the key in the car…my new one uses a proximity sensor to keep you from locking the doors if the key is in the car…which poses a problem if the GF decides to leave her purse w/her copy of the key in the car.

        I still managed to lock the keys in by placing them down in the trunk as I loaded groceries…so when I broke a florescent bulb and slammed the trunk, the key was entombed! Nothing beats the look on the face of a middle of a cornfield Iowa locksmith when he tries to tackle the situation! (ended up having the g/f fed/ex me her key)

        On the plus side…by forcing her to take her purse everywhere, I can have empty pockets!

      • sealclubster says:

        @William C Bonner: @William C Bonner: @RedwoodFlyer:

        I totally did the same thing with my mini (made by BMW). I’m thinking BMW should unlock the doors when you unlock the trunk so this won’t be a problem anymore…

      • synergy says:

        @William C Bonner: My Honda doesn’t let me lock the driver’s side door while holding the handle. The took out that trick, again, to save us from our own stupidity.

    • ajlei says:

      @TechnoDestructo: My Toyota most definitely does not give any measures to prevent me locking my keys in my car, which has happened on more than a few occasions. Thankfully, I’ve had AAA since I got my license so it’s never been a big issue. Plus, now I keep a spare key in my purse at all times. But yeah, my Toyota is either too old (’97) or not a nice enough model to have a “can’t-lock-yourself-out” feature.

    • harrellj says:

      @TechnoDestructo: My Scion (made by Toyota) only lets me lock the doors if they’re all closed. Other than that and the fact that the key and fob are all one piece, there’s no other protection for locking myself out of my car.

    • Spiny Norman says:

      @TechnoDestructo: The Toyota Prius goes one step further. It will not let you keylessly lock the door if a “smartkey” keyfob is inside the car. You have to lock the car with the remote in your hand to lock a key in the car. My wife hides her key in the car when we go out at times and we had to figure this one out on our own. (I mean who really studies the manual???). Toyota Prius FTW!

  13. DjDynasty says:

    I personally have a broken remote hidden for my cars. Since when I buy cars, I make it a point to get 4 sets of keys, and 5 remotes (Fords are super easy to have spares for) Although the extra remotes come from eBay. Anyway, I have the remote hidden on the outside of the vehicle, sealed in laminated plastic bag, So I just have to reach and hit the unlock button.

    Also, If you drive a Ford vehicle that uses those Sentry Key systems that the keys must be programmed, the key that you would get from wal-mart would be a generic metal key blank, with no chip in the head. Theft of that key wouldn’t matter, as all they could do is steal your stereo or contents of the car, but couldn’t steal the car itself.

  14. kidnextdoor says:

    Roadside assistance from State Farm: $2.10/6months.

    • laserjobs says:

      @kidnextdoor: Yeah but paying 50% more for car insurance is no deal.

      • Sidecutter says:

        @laserjobs: What kind of terrible driving record does it take to pay more for State Farm? I have a 100k/300k policy with collision and injury, and a $250 deductible for about $580/6 months. It covers both my primary and secondary vehicle, and even covers me at the same level in any car I drive that belongs to someone else, or if someone else is driving my car with me in it. Less than a hundred a month…hell, window replacements are gratis, and I get rebates on my premiums now and then because someone decided I overpaid.

    • HogwartsAlum says:


      I have State Farm but I don’t have a cell phone.

      • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

        @HogwartsAlum: switch to a different insurer and buy a cell phone with the savings?

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @HogwartsAlum: Get a Tracfone or something for emergencies….

        Even if you don’t have service, at least you can get to 911 and to TracFone customer care in order to buy some airtime!

        • Hyman Decent says:

          @RedwoodFlyer: I prefer T-Mobile for infrequently used prepaid wireless phone service. They require just $10 (plus sales tax, here in NY, at least) every 90 days to keep your service active. Plus, I got the phone for free after rebate and it came with a $25 airtime card. (We probably won’t see a deal like that again, though.)

    • tmed says:


      the roadside assistance from State Farm (at least for me) was a reimbursement service. Useless if you are broke and locked out or broken down.

      I prefere the plan through my cell phone.

  15. FCL says:

    Most cars with transponder keys will open with a boring old mechanical key. You don’t need to worry about getting an expensive-ass key with the chip in the head for your license plate spare.

    There are places which sell the strong boxes that real estate agents use to store keys outside of houses. I have one on the outside of my house, just in case I get locked out by one of my kids or my own forgetfulness. The box I have can also be mounted to the inside of a vehicle’s wheel well. You need a combo to get into it, and it would take a hell of a lot of noise and destruction of the car to loosen the box and access the key if you don’t know the combo.

    • BlondeGrlz says:

      @Fried Chicken Little: They sell those boxes at Staples, so they aren’t even hard to find. That’s a great idea, too, I’m going to do it!

    • dwasifar says:

      @Fried Chicken Little: I guess it would be okay for the car, but I wouldn’t put one of those key lockboxes on my house. Why advertise where you hid your spare key? They’re not as secure as you think. I had to break into one once – a realtor vanished and left it on a friend’s house, and she wanted it off her doorknob. Took me probably five minutes with a Dremel to cut it off, and once it was cut, it opened and I had the key. Doubtless a thief could do it quicker.

      • dragonvpm says:

        @dwasifar: I do that for my house, but I have it in the backyard (where my dogs are) and it’s in a discrete spot that isn’t visible from outside the property. Another options is to put it somewhere that would be awkward/difficult for someone to position themselves with a cutting tool to access.

        Ultimately, if someone is determined enough to go up to a key safe with a Dremel (or other random tools) they could probably open your doors about as easily. You’re never going to stop the very determined thief, the best you can do is slow them down and stop the random thief looking for an easy score.

        • FCL says:

          @dragonvpm: I agree that people will get in if they’re determined. But, if someone is going to break into my house, they will probably just bust out a section of the window in the front door, then reach inside and unlock the deadbolt and the lever. They won’t piss around with a key box. The key is really more for me, because I have small children and I’m often harried to the point of forgetting my keys when I run out of the house.

          We live on a fairly quiet street with lots of retired Mrs. Huber-types, so I don’t have too many worries about anyone Dremeling their way into it.

          • Con Seannery says:

            @Fried Chicken Little: That’s where they drive into, everyone feels safe, easy targets.

            Also, most thefts are crimes of opportunity. All you need to do is make your house a less appealing target than your neighbors’. Same applies for a car and the one in the next space. You don’t have to outrun the bear, just the guy next to you.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @Fried Chicken Little:

      I think I’d rather just somewhat borrow a Seinfeld idea and have one of my Koi swallow an RFID chip – so all I’d have to do is fetch the fish and wave it in front of the door!

  16. ravensfire says:

    When I had cars without remote entry I was known for locking my keys in the car. After one two many instances, I learned to always carry two sets of keys, one set for driving the car and the other to stay on me at all times when I was out and about. This worked for me because I am not the sort of person that leaves her purse in the car when I’m running errands and I don’t leave my key in the ignition when getting gas (where I grew up, that was asking for trouble).

    This hasn’t been a problem for me since I’ve had remote entry because I always use the key fob to lock the doors once I am out of the car. This might be a good method for people with remote entry, program yourself to only lock your car with your key fob. Then you are more likely to notice if you’re missing your fob because you can’t follow your car locking procedure.

    • HogwartsAlum says:


      THat’s a good idea, because I tend to lock the car with the button on the door and not the key fob. I will train myself to ONLY use my fob. It sucks to pay $25 to Pop-A-Lock to open my car, and it’s embarrassing to have them arrive in that loud, ad-covered Beetle of theirs.

      • Con Seannery says:

        @HogwartsAlum: My habit is worse. I leave my phone in the car because I never call anyone, and lock with the button on the door as I get out. If I forget to grab the keys one day, 90% of the time I’d be screwed. I also carry very little cash.

  17. samurailynn says:

    I have only locked my keys in my car once. It happened when I was in high school, and I had to call my dad to come down there and help me break into my car with a coat hanger. It was embarrassing and frustrating enough that I have not done it again the 10 years since.

  18. loueloui says:

    Even better yet, just get a copy of a key and stick it in your wallet. I used to lock myself out repeatedly, and until I did this I spent many hours waiting on AAA, or helpful friends with keys.

    If you really want to go high dollar, they sell a ‘Credit Card Key’ for about $5 that is the size, and thickness of a credit card. Just fold out, turn, and voila.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve carried a copy of my truck key in my wallet for years and it has been quite helpful on many occasions. Now that I’m married, I keep a copy of both vehicle keys…and have had to use both. Yeah, I have roadside assistance…just don’t want to have to wait for ’em.

  19. 310Drew says:

    Onstar is great for unlocking your doors.

  20. Gopher bond says:

    This is why I love my beater jalopies. I don’t care if they get scratched, keyed, or vandalized in any matter, I don’t lock the doors and if you want to steal it, go right ahead, chief. You’ll never beat me in chicken when merging, either. I love when the guy in the new BMW tries to jump my turn when merging into one lane. I just give him a look that says, “You do realize I’m driving a 1985 Plymouth Reliant, right.” They usually always realize they won’t win this game. There’s something to be said to paying $800 for a planned one-year car and then junking it when the engine blows. Sure, sometimes they clunk out after a few months but sometimes they’ll go 3 years or more on you.

    • MightyDwarf56 says:

      @testsicles: I hear you, my 89 LaBaron will not die, and the door locks don’t work any way, so I really can’t lock my keys in the car. The thing that sucks though is a couple of years ago some one stole my cd player beacuse of this. But they didn’t steal the car, go figure.

      • Con Seannery says:

        @MightyDwarf56: I got a friend with a Dodge Spirit we refer to as the Broken Spirit, has a nice cd player but the faceplate broke off, so if he were to carry that, it’s useless to steal it, and he does put it where it’s hard to see, just because that’s the only place to put it, so, no incentive to break in at all.

    • ponycyndi says:

      @testsicles: I think I love you.

  21. Anonymous says:

    The problem with finding a hiding place for anything is that when you think “Ah ha! That would make a great hiding place!”, you should realize that others will have the same thought. That alone makes it a bad hiding place.

  22. boricuachick says:

    “Never Get Locked Out Your Car”??? I think you need the word “of” in between Out and Your, LOL.

    Okay, now to discuss the topic at hand. I have keyless remote entry on my Honda (thank goodness). I also have a spare remote, spare keys and even a valet key. In addition to the many keys, I have AAA. I think I’ve got it covered. I don’t really like the idea of leaving a key anywhere on my car.

    • says:

      @boricuachick: i agree, i always feel like someone will know where my spare is. i mean, if someone wants your car that bad, they’ll figure out a way. locks only keep the honest people out.

  23. NotYou007 says:

    Way to tell the world where you hide your key. I think it is a very dumb and stupid idea. People do steal tags and it happens often. I locked myself out once when I was 19 yrs old. It has never happened again and I will be 39 next year. I always make sure I have my keys before I lock the door or close the trunk, ALWAYS!

    I would never, ever, ever bolt a key behind my lic. plate. Worst advice I’ve ever read from this site and as someone else said. You will need a screw driver as most lic. plates screws are big and thick and require a good amount of torque to undo.

    Again, worst advice. EVER!

  24. Suttin says:

    I love the fact that my car will take any key to unlock it. Ive locked my keys in my car before, and I used someone else house key to unlock my door.

  25. Corporate-Shill says:

    I replaced a wheelwell screw with a longer screw and fastened my extra key.

    I know others that mounted the extra key into the blades on the radiator grill.

    Guess what? The good theives already know our hiding places. All of them.

  26. juri squared says:

    However, locking your keys out of your car will (a) make your friends laugh at you and (b) let you meet cute mall security guys.

    My friend did this once, at mall closing, two days before Christmas. We laughed at her extra-hard because if she hadn’t stubbornly refused to bring her jacket in, she wouldn’t have locked her keys in the car, since the keys were in her jacket pocket.

    I’m pretty sure the cold and the fact that we will never let her live that down taught her a mighty good lesson.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Better yet. the switch for door lock is positive and ground. run two wires from lock switch threw firewall. then strap them somewhere under the car. get locked out lay under it and touch the two together , and unlock the doors

  28. farker says:

    If your key has a chip in it, you might still be able to get a cheap metal key made. A plain metal key should open your door lock, enabling you to get into the car and use the regular key to start the car.

    Also, always be sure to check your key works the lock after it is cut by the person at the hardware store!

  29. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I think the key here is to hide a key somewhere wierd…like up underneath the chassis, behind a license plate or whatever, but NOT to write about it in an internet blog :)

    When I used to drive a service van for a living, I had such a key in a place that most people probably wouldn’t ever find it. Even better, the vehicle belonged to my jerkwad of a boss, so I really didn’t care if it got stolen!

  30. HogwartsAlum says:

    The dumbest thing I did was one time I went to the laundromat, parked the car, locked the door, got out and shut it…

    with the keys in the ignition, headlights on and car running.

  31. Jesse in Japan says:

    Japanese people often chastise me for not locking my car, but I’m like, “This is Japan. And just who is going to steal my 12 year old Honda that I paid 50,000 yen for and is going to require 80,000 yen for shaken in a couple of months?”

    If you’re worried about car theft, then don’t drive a car that somebody would want to steal.

  32. WolfDemon says:

    How do you get a cheap dupe done….I thought you had to go through the manufacturer in most cases to get a new key.

  33. 89macrunner says:

    yeah this wont work at all for those of us with a car that has a key with a transponder chip…..

    You can’t drill through those keys.

  34. Boatski says:

    I always keep a spare key in my wallet behind my license.

  35. SecureLocation says:

    I’m stealing Meghann’s car tonight

  36. banmojo says:

    “This $2 fix has saved my bacon many times.”

    smart enough to think up this clever hiding place, but dumb enough to keep getting locked outta yer car? hmmmmmmm. let me ponder the dichotomy for a wee bit.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I honestly don’t see how one can lock their keys in their car more than once. After I left mine in and had to break in with a coat hanger, i always make sure my lanyard was hanging out of my pcket or my caribeaner was clipped to my belt before I even got out of the car. If I’m not holding the key or the alarm pad, im not leaving the car.

  38. BeyondtheTech says:

    The blonde stood near a car, repeatedly pointing a key remote at the car, then slapping the remote against her other hand, then pointing the remote at the car.

    A man walked up and said, “I’m sorry, ma’m, but are you having some kind of problem?”

    The blonde turned toward him, tears brimming in her eyes, her bottom lip quivering. “Yes. My remote won’t work, and I can’t get in the car.”

    The man stuck out his hand and the blonde dropped the remote on its keychain into his hand. The man said, “Is this the remote to this car?”

    She said, “Oh, yes. Honest. It’s my car.”

    He said, “Well, the problem may be that the remote’s battery is dead. Once you replace the battery, the remote will probably be fine. There’s a store on the corner down there that will have the kind of battery you need.”

    The blonde beamed. “Oh, thank you. I’ll just run down there now and get a battery.”

    The man said, “Well, why don’t you drive down and get the battery?” He stepped to her car, took hold of the key that had been dangling from the remote’s chain, pushed the key into the lock and turned it.

  39. sam-i-am says:

    Just remember to always keep a screwdriver in your pocket…

  40. sam-i-am says:

    “TIP: get a cheap key dupe made at the hardware store. Then place said key surgically into the fat in your belly. This will keep it secure and it’s rare that you’ll be stranded without something that can be used (knife, piece o’metal by road, helpful person’s scalpel) to cut open your skin and access the key. This $2 fix has saved my bacon many times. Those magnetic boxes are OK but they can dislodge when you hit a pothole.”

  41. oneliketadow says:

    Most wallets that I’ve seen have a place to insert a key into. That’s a better plan.

  42. cmdrsass says:

    This tip is as old as time itself.

  43. pschroeter says:

    Just carry a spare in you wallet. Isn’t that what most people would do?

  44. physics2010 says:

    Why not just do as the article says? It works perfect for cars that won’t start without a special key. You don’t want to start the car. You want to get into the car to retrieve the cars key you locked inside. If someone wants in your cars its easier for them to break in then search behind your license plate

    • Grive says:

      @physics2010: So then it makes no difference?

      Since, you know, you locked your working car keys inside. It’s exactly the same whether you have a “door only” key in there or a fully functional one.

  45. Vertigo50 says:

    This is a really bad idea.

    Here’s a better idea:
    If you don’t already have a keyless entry or alarm system, get one installed. If you can install it yourself, they’re really cheap.

    Once you have it, NEVER lock your car any other way than with the keyless entry. Once you start that habit you won’t be able to lock your car until you have your keys in your hand.

  46. DeeJayQueue says:

    Here’s the major problem with having a dupe anywhere on or in your car:

    When not if your car gets stolen or broken into, the first thing the insurance adjuster will ask is “are there any spare keys that are unaccounted for or were left on/in the vehicle?”

    If the answer to this question is yes, or is found out later to be yes, the insurance company will cut you off like a tumor.

    Probably the best thing you can do if you’re lucky enough to have a flat key, is to just keep one in your wallet. If you’re a girl with a purse, you can keep whatever kind of key you like in there, but keep it tied down/tethered or something. Having a key attached to your car is a great way of not only losing your insurance coverage, but skirts dangerously close to being accused of fraud should the worst happen. This I know from experience.

  47. Marshfield says:

    A buddy of mine used to put a key inside the taillight. Just needed a phillips screwdriver to get it out.

    I went to try it on my Ford Van and they use Torx screws. yikes, no chance of getting one of THOSE in the middle of the night.

  48. Mozoltov, motherfucker says:

    I keep a spare key behind some molding on the gas flap door. And for those who say this isn’t a good idea you are wrong, it’s an excellent idea. Car thiefs won’t go through the trouble of checking behind a license plate to get a key that may or may not be there UNLESS they know it is there. If they want to get to your car it’s smash and grab.

    I also have a spare key with a fob in my locker at work, a spare at church, and a spare at my gfs house. Also my brother has a copy of my key, and I have a copy of his key.

    But seriously who locks their keys in their car? I have been driving for about 6 years, never happened. I make sure the keys are in my hand before I shut anything.

    • jwissick says:

      @DJ Barrak: It’s a dip shit idea. And the gas flap is even dumber. Kid opens your gas cap looking to syphon a few g’s of go juice… instead he sees your key and decides to take your car for a joy ride. Now you’re a pedestrian.

      Won’t take the trouble of looking behind the plate? With a cordless screw driver, that ‘trouble’ is what? 3 seconds?

    • shockwaver says:

      @DJ Barrak: When you live in Canada, and you get ice and snow covering your car every time you stop, the -only- thing you can do is start the car, jack up the heat, then get out and scrape. My ford tempo had loose locks, and if you shut the door too hard, the doors locked.

      How do I know this? -40 out, start the car at 11pm after work, get out to scrape it, scrape it.. and the door is locked. And, amusingly enough, my cellphone was in the car too, having falling out my pocket.

      Not every situation is due to idiocy.

      • Con Seannery says:

        @shockwaver: I slammed the keys in the trunk once, but that WAS idiocy, you shouldn’t set them in there. Since then I got a caribiener and clipped them to my belt, I don’t go anywhere without the keys on my belt of my lanyard.

  49. Kanidia says:

    If this happens a lot to you, then you would need to buy a car with an electronic passcode entry system. Just don’t forget the passcode.

  50. forgottenpassword says:

    I keep a spare key in my wallet. I am rarely anywhere outide my residence where I dont have my wallet. Saved my bacon a few times.

    I also keep one VERY well hidden key inside my jeep’s engine compartment (jeep wrangler’s hoods can be opened from the outside of the vehicle)

  51. jwissick says:

    First, you should have screws on your license plate that need to be drilled to be removed to protect your plate. You are better off with a spare in your wallet or calling AAA.

    NEVER call a lock smith. They will rip you off.

    Never let a tow truck driver slim jim your drivers side door. You don’t want that door broken. Have him do a back door or passenger side door.

    Think you just had a brain storm and thought of a place to hide your key or remote? Hit yourself on the head and open a V8. A criminal thought of that place LONG before you did. They know ALL the hiding places. After all, you don’t think much about being a good guy. Criminals think about bring criminals all day.

  52. shinseiromeo says:

    How about just not lock your keys in the car in the first place? Newer cars with keyless entry like the Lexus IS make it IMPOSSIBLE to lock yourself out. I’ve even tried to do it purposely. =P

  53. kenblakely says:

    Great idea. Screw the key to the friggin’ license plate. Then, after 6 months of road grime and weather, the screw is frozen in, and the piece o’ metal you were hoping would be strong enuf to get it out isn’t.

    Better idea: zip-strip it to a part of the frame. It will always be there, and nylon zip-strips are weatherproof. When you need it, just twist the key to break the strip.

  54. bonzombiekitty says:

    My car has an RFID key. If it’s in the car, the door can be unlocked. I love it. Only thing that sucks about it is the cost of making a new one (between $100 and $200).

  55. mdweaver7485 says:

    AAA Membership and get the Credit Card Key made, it works great, sits in my wallet behind my license. Just beware that it wont shut off your alarm. Also the CC Keys are not made in NY state and possibly others but they are definately available in California.

  56. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    I’m sorry, but this is a very stupid tip. I mean, it is like saying “Always forget your ATM pin? Write it on the envelope you keep the card in! That way you’ll always have it!”

  57. mavkato says:

    i don’t think this will work in northern climates where road salt attacks the screws attaching the plate to the car. i moved from minnesota to south dakota, and my plate would barely come off from having six winters worth of road salt attacking it. i can’t imagine on the side of the road trying to use a dime/other scrap on the ground.

  58. ponycyndi says:

    I don’t understand the need to drill a hole. Isn’t there already a hole for the keyring??

  59. tastybytes says:

    I always use the remote or lock from the outside. i have been stupid enough to lock my door from the inside while i was closing the door, only to realize the engine was still running and my door was now locked.

  60. mobilene says:

    The flaw in this plan: One of the license-plate screws is GOING to be rusted at the moment of need, and no dime is going to let you unscrew it.

  61. yetiwisdom says:

    Hey folks – original suggester here. To respond to some of the comments:

    – The idea that we’re telling everyone where we hide our key, while superficially seems like a horrible idea, really doesn’t matter. Consider that in the US there are well over 200 MILLION registered cars with approx 100M drivers on the road today. Consumerist gets under 300K visits per day, so for the sake of argument (rough math here), that’s .3% (NOT 3, POINT 3 percent) of the drivers who visit this site – ASSUMING each visit is a unique visitor, which is probably not the case. Long story short, don’t overstimate the reach of Consumerist. It will not be time well spent for Mr. (or Ms.) car thief to start running around taking off license plates looking for keys when max 3 cars in 1000 will have a hidden key (again assuming that EVERY Consumerist visitor takes this advice).

    – I don’t know what town you’re from nor do I know what your criminals do. What I do know is that in Philly there is a very small incidence of people getting their registration tags cut off their plates with tin snips and a still smaller rate of plates getting stolen. I back this with no stats. It’s never happened to me nor a friend. I’m not in the habit of parking in shady areas. I exercise good judgment when I park, not because I think someone will steal my plate but because I want to minimize all risk to my automobile. I encourage you to do the same.

    – I don’t own your car so I can’t say how much torque it takes to remove your plate screw. What I can say is that in the rare situation where I’ve locked my keys inside, I’ve ALWAYS been able to borrow a screwdriver or use a dime to unscrew it. This is on my current and last 14 or so cars. It helps if you don’t screw it down so much that you can’t get it off, too.

    – I think the key-in-wallet idea is super. Knock yourselves out. I, personally, do not carry a George Costanza wallet and I keep the crap I carry in there to a bare minimum. No sugar packets. No hard candy. No keys.

    Finally, I’ve been doing this since, oh, about 1987. Had more than 15 cars. Some desirable, some beaters. Never had my plate stolen, never had my registration tag cut off, and never had the key discovered. What I have had is the peace of mind of knowing that in the RARE instance when a key gets lost or locked-in, I can get back on the road easily. This has been borne out in practice as well.

    Opinions are like assholes – everyone has one but that doesn’t mean you want to hear it. This suggestion is my opinion, take it or leave it but no need to be a hater.

    Love, Yetiwisdom

    • Con Seannery says:

      @yetiwisdom: You know, the opinions to assholes analogy is flawed, you only have one asshole, but many opinions.

      Also, while your points are valid about parking in better areas, my sister has had her plate stolen in a fairly good area.

  62. JanetCarol says:

    I think this is a fantastic idea – plus how many car thieves read the consumerist? My guess is 0.

  63. mncannon says:

    My Dad told me this tip when I first started driving over 30 years ago (wow!). It’s a great tip! He told everyone about it and several people thanked him later when they lost their keys!

  64. gqcarrick says:

    How about some common sense and………..don’t lock your keys in your car! Take 5 seconds, take a deep breath and don’t rush around and you won’t forget them and lock them in your car.

  65. Anonymous says:

    The best way of not getting locked out of your car is keeping a spare key in your wallet. It’s saved my life so many times.

  66. Mikestan says:

    “He’d be damned if any slopes were gonna put their greasy hands on his boy’s birthright. So he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide something. His ass.”

  67. esp13 has a pony named Steve says:

    One thing everyone should keep in mind is that there are multiple places on a vehicle where you can hide a key or remote. Most thieves are opportunists and a determined thief will take your car/belongings no matter what measures you take. I have a few creative place where i stash a key and I change locations about every month.

  68. Shadowman615 says:

    Horrible idea. Analogous to what we in the tech industry derisively refer to as “Security by Obscurity.”

  69. silentluciditi says:

    Bad, bad, bad idea. Carry one in your wallet or somewhere else on you, never on the car. Even if you live in a “good” neighborhood, your plates could get stolen, and, hey!, now they have keys to your car! Two for one special!

    Get a remote entry system installed or get a car with one. I haven’t locked myself out of my car in over a year since I did that, because you get in the mindset that you get out of the car and need to have the remote in hand to lock it. Believe me, I locked myself out a lot before this (granted, I also had a ’92 Escort, and could break into it with a hanger, but, still…).

  70. Mikestan says:

    Broken hangers always did the trick for me.

  71. DanYHKim says:

    I generally do not lose my keys, but I do keep an entry key hidden on the car. The times when I lock my keys in the car seem to be when my standard routine is perturbed in some way, and generally results in my leaving both my keys and my wallet in the car. For instance, when I go to the beach, I secure my wallet in the glovebox or some other location, and then leave the keys dangling in the glovebox lock when I close the door. I have an older car without remote entry, so the doors can be closed and locked in one motion.

    I have always found it easier to get a penny or a screwdriver from a nearby shop than to get a compatible key :)

    As for making the car more vulnerable to thieves: I think a car thief has many other techniques to enter and steal my car without need for the keys.

  72. Triborough says:

    This really does seem like bad advice.
    It is probably best to get a duplicate key and stick it in your wallet – something that is a good idea for things like a house key. One tip for all your locks at home – get them all keyed alike – that way you’ll only need one key for every door and lock at home.

  73. corinthos says:

    I had an old car that didn’t even need a key to start. It was an 81 Gm something. I bought it used from a friend for 200 bucks and he had a light switch behind the seat hooked up to something in the engine.
    That was the whole reason I purchased the car in the first place, it worked 8 months then I just junked it.

  74. RobertW.TX says:

    I just keep both my original keys in my pocket. If I lock a set in the car odds are I have my other set in my pocket.

  75. el-brazo-onofre says:

    Another idea for beaters is to duct tape a key inside one of the wheel wells. I used to do this in a country in which car thefts were not common. Now that I need a security system, I’ve upgraded my backup key system, which I call “Wife”.

  76. mzs says:

    This is such a bad idea. In the SF area I got my plates stolen. If I had hid the key behind the license plate I would have had a great time dealing with the insurance company with a car found a few miles away with everything inside trashed/stripped but no broken window or jimmied door.

  77. MikeH30 says:

    This is ridiculous, what happens if you don’t have a screwdriver, just use a magnetic box and place it some where it won’t get dislodged, most stick so well anyway that it would never come loose

  78. Cattivella says:

    I’ve locked my keys in my car twice, but never with my new car (VW), though it’s probably more due to paranoia than because of the cars preventative features.

    Both times I locked my keys in was awful. Once I had to walk home barefoot in the rain (started raining suddenly and the sandals were too slippery on the pavement). The other time I couldn’t get ahold of anyone for a long time until my friend finally answered their phone and had to come down with a coat hanger. Definitely learned my lesson after those.

  79. morganlh85 says:

    I just keep a spare key in my purse. While I might leave my keys in the car by accident, I almost never leave my purse in my car.

  80. ceez says:

    get a copy like he says but keep it in your wallet on one of those inside ‘pockets’. That’s what I do and it’s saved me a few times.

    no need to be screwing/unscrewing stuff. And if you’re seen somewhere near your home at a place that you frequent often, well guess what? you just gave someone a free car for some night riding fun!!!

  81. eshotwell says:

    Also, be sure to tape your password to your laptop, hide your house key under the mat, and leave me some milk and cookies for my visit.

    And instead of screwing your key to the license plate, why not just save me some time and keep it in the ignition? Be sure to leave me a full tank of gas while you’re at it.

  82. Anonymous says:

    I’ve used the key-behind-the-plate gambit since I moved to North Carolina thirty years ago. As true for 18 other enlightened states, my adopted state doesn’t require a license plate on the vehicle front. My key isn’t behind the attractive-to-felons state plate in the rear but behind the front “plate,” the unofficial plate that says NCSU Fan! UNC, Duke, Wake Forest & ECU fans/car thieves, statistically the majority of thieves in NC, won’t look there. Scrounge a penny to turn the screw, and the spare key is in my hand.

  83. Danj3ris says:

    Now I know I’m not paranoid! I keep thinking someone will see me as I retrieve my key from behind my plate. Thanks to Consumerist and Digg, they will!

  84. nate_rio says:

    There are also screws that hold trim on in your wheelwells, as well as in other places under the chassis to hold brake lines and such. I would explore your vehicle to find some odd spots other than behind the license plate. You could even go as far as to drill a hole and use a bolt and a locking nut to put it anywhere you want. Just be smart about where you drill – never near a weld or other joint.

    I try to keep a spare key in the glovebox so that if I’m ever locked out and I have the convertible top down I have a way in ;)