If you’ve ever locked your keys in your car, you know how stressful the situation is. If you don’t have a spare key nearby, you are going to need to call a professional. But, how much does a locksmith cost to unlock a car and is it going to break the bank?
In this guide, I cover the average cost you can expect when a locksmith needs to get into your vehicle. I also look at some other popular services from the locksmith, and tell you what to do if this terrible situation occurs.
How Much Does a Locksmith Cost to Unlock a Car?
If you need to call a locksmith out to get into your car, you can expect to pay $75 to $300, depending on several factors. The price depends on what time of day it is, what kind of key your car uses, and the make/model of your vehicle.
If you have roadside assistance, you might not need to pay anything for these services. On the other hand, paying for emergency services from the locksmith could lead to an even higher charge. Additionally, if the locksmith needs to rekey the lock, rekey the ignition, or replace a lock, you have extra fees that will apply.
Locksmith Services and Average Costs
1. Unlock Car Door/Normal Business Hours
The best time to get locked out of your car is during the locksmith’s normal business hours. During this time, you won’t have any extra charges applied to your bill.
For this reason, you might only spend $75 to $150 to have a locksmith unlock the doors. The cost all depends on how far away the locksmith is and how difficult it is to get into the vehicle.
2. Unlock Car Door/After Hours
We all know that these inconveniences never happen at good times. If you are unfortunate enough to be locked out at night or on the weekend, you are going to spend more.
Some locksmiths will charge a flat fee for the after-hours service. Other companies will double the price, so be prepared.
3. Rekey the Car
What do you do if you lose the key completely? If you don’t have a spare, you have to have the car rekeyed.
The cost for this could be as low as $50, depending on the model. However, you could also spend $300 or more.
4. Replace Locks
If you need to have new locks put on the car, you might spend even more. On average, it could cost you anywhere from $200 to $600.
Why would you put new locks on the car? It’s always a good idea if someone has keys to the vehicle that you are worried about.
5. Rekey Ignition
If the ignition wears out, you have to have it rekeyed. You can take it to the dealership to have this done, but you will pay more than necessary.
Instead, consider the benefits of using a locksmith. With this route, you might only spend $20 to $50.
6. Put on New Keypad
Today’s cars have a keypad on the side that lets you into the vehicle without a key. However, these parts aren’t indestructible and can break over time.
If you need a new keypad installed, you might not spend as much as you would have thought. On average, the bill should be under $400.
7. Cut New Keys
If you’ve lost your keys and you need new ones, the price can be all over the board. Your traditional car keys might only cost $5 to $25 to cut.
However, many modern cars use transponder keys with chips in them. These can quickly become very expensive to replace.
What to Do When Keys are Locked in a Car
1. Call 911
The most important aspect is that you are safe and no one is in danger. If there’s a pet or child locked in the car, you don’t have time to wait for a locksmith, especially if the weather is hot.
Instead, you should immediately call 911 for assistance. The police can often unlock the car door in an emergency. If they deem it not to be an emergency, they will reach out to a locksmith for you instead.
2. Call Family with a Spare
Is there anyone at home that can get their hands on a spare key? If so, a quick call home might be all that’s needed.
It’s also smart to keep a spare key somewhere. If you don’t have it on you, see if you can find someone to retrieve it.
3. Contact Roadside Assistance
Many new and pre-owned cars come with roadside assistance coverage. Otherwise, you can pay extra through AAA, your insurance company or a warranty provider.
If you have roadside assistance, you might be able to get into your vehicle for free. However, there could also be a deductible that you need to pay or you might have a limit of calls you can make. It’s important to know all of this information upfront.
4. Call Locksmith
If there’s no free way to get around the difficulty, you are stuck calling a locksmith. Your best bet is to call the one that’s closest to you, so you won’t be charged for the additional mileage.
You might be tempted to call around and find the best deal. While a few calls might be okay, it’s not going to be wise to waste a lot of time finding the deepest bargain. Time is of the essence when you can’t get into your vehicle.
5. Get Into Car
All that’s left to do at this point is wait for your locksmith to arrive. Whatever situation you are facing, the locksmith will be able to get you inside the car.
You will be responsible for proving that you own the car. Otherwise, they aren’t going to turn keys over to you.
Prevent Getting Locked Out of the Car
Keep a Spare
The easiest way to prevent getting locked out is to keep a spare key on you. You can put one in your purse or wallet. When all else fails, you can buy a special box to hide on the car.
If nothing else seems wise, leave a spare with a loved one. At least in this situation, they can bring you the key instead of you needing to call a locksmith.
Be Selective with Car Purchase
Many of today’s cars come with features that prevent this situation from happening. You want a car that refuses to lock while the key is in the ignition. You can also choose one with a keypad on the door that helps you get in without the key.
Today’s cars with telematics systems will also make it easy to get inside. Whether you have the Mercedes-Benz system, Hyundai’s Blue Link system or the GM OnStar technology, you can call for support if you get locked out. The representative can unlock your car door remotely once you prove ownership.
Beyond that, there are also apps with many of these systems. If you have the app installed, you may be able to unlock the doors on your own. Check the specs of the car to see what’s offered before you buy it.