Reader Question: Getting Locked Out of Car . . . Over and Over?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Kari asks: My 17 year old son has locked his keys in his car or trunk twice now. He then borrows a phone to call me to bring the spare that opens the door only. I have asked him to call the local locksmith to get advice on how to prevent or mitigate this problem so he can solve it himself. Do you have any advice for changing his habit or preparing for the incident in way that he can be self-sufficient?

My reply: You’re on the right track . . . by letting him figure it out!

A 17-year-old is an almost-adult who needs to learn how to deal with life’s problems on his own. Locking his keys in the car/trunk is one such.

We all do this, of course – and there are a number of ways to reduce the frequency, as by making a point of ritualistically checking one’s pockets for the keys before one closes (and locks) the doors or the trunk. And then there are taking steps in advance to deal with the results if one forgets, as by having an extra set of keys handy or at least accessible.

If he were an adult living on his own, I’d advise him to keep an extra set at his place so that if he locks himself out, he can let himself back in. Or give a set to a trusted friend, for the same purpose.

Since he is still a kid and (I assume) living with you, he can keep an extra set in his room – and if he locks himself out again, let him know you’re not going to be the one who brings him the keys. That it’ll be up to him to walk/Uber/whatever home to get them and then find a way back to his car to unlock.

Or, call – and pay for – a locksmith. On his own.

Hassle is a strong teenager motivator!

. . . 

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  1. I’m in my 60s for years I came in the house and put my keys down somewhere, anywhere. And go crazy spending a half hour looking for them when I needed the keys. A few years ago I put up a board near the front door with hooks, and now for the last 4 years I put all my keys there, immediately on entering the house. Few now are the times of frustration and anger at looking for mislaid keys. Took a lifetime to figure that out.

    • My keys live in my pocket 100% of the time. Never have to worry about misplacing them or forgetting them.

      When I used to do salvage/junk/used cars, I had a “keys and titles” briefcase. Made life easy. Friend O’mine in the same bidness….72 years old now and messing with cars longer than I’ve been alive, can’t find keys and titles for better than half the cars he’s trying to sell at any given time……he never did get a briefcase.

  2. I locked my keys in my first car 40 years ago. Never again….I’ve always carried a spare key in my pocket ever since….which comes in handy for other things too- like if you want to leave your car running and lock it- say, if you want to leave your dog in it with the A/C running while you bop into a store or something (Saw somebody do that once, but left his car unlocked because he only had one key…and while he was gone the bow-wow managed to hit the power lock button with his paw and lock the dude out!).
    Conversely: When I was 16, I once left my keys hanging in the lock of my apartment door in NYC all night! It wasn’t until decades later, after moving here to rural KY that I stopped checking my pocket before bed to make sure all my keys are there. (I now try to encourage intruders….but alas, no takers, as all homeowners here are well armed)

    • Nunzio, great minds think alike. I carry a single door key in my pocket instead of on the ring with ignition, tool box and house keys. And just to back up not having that key for some reason, I have another key for the door. I cut the head off it and ground it smooth so there’s just enough to grab and open the door. I keep it in the little compartment I keep my thousand dollar bills in in my wallet. It’s kinda lonely in there but it doesn’t complain and I’ll have to lose my wallet and the key in my pocket to be locked out. I’ve been doing that for 30 years and wondered why it took me so long to wise up.


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