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How to Use Slim Jim to Unlock a Car Door if You Lose Your Keys

How to Use Slim Jim to Unlock Car Door if You Lose Your Keys
There might come a time when you are required to break into your own car, especially if you have accidentally locked the keys inside. A very useful device to have in such a situation is a slim jim. This WheelZine post tells you how a slim jim works, and how you can use it to get your car's door open again.
Satyajeet Vispute
Last Updated: Dec 09, 2017
It May Be a Clue!
Using the slim jim in an unskilled manner often causes the lock rod to be detached, leaving the whole mechanism inoperable even with the car keys. This, most of the time, is a clue that someone had attempted to break open into your car.
Have you locked yourself outside your car? Don't blame your absentmindedness. It is something that can happen to even the best of us. We know that it can be extremely frustrating, not to mention embarrassing; however, what's done is done. We will let you call the locksmith this time, but for the next time, and believe us there will most likely be a next time, we will teach you how to use a very simple tool, called the slim jim, to get inside your car even if it's locked from the inside. But what is a slim jim?

Known as one of the best tools for unlocking a car's door without needing the keys, a slim jim is a thin (slim) metal strip made from sheet metal, having a notch cut on one of its sides at the bottom end. This notch is meant to be hooked onto the rod connected to the door handle of a car, allowing the user to pull it into the open position. If used properly, a slim jim easily gets the door open without causing any significant damage to the locking mechanism.

Since it is so easy to use, the slim jim is a very popular tool amongst locksmiths, and unfortunately, even amongst many car thieves. It is also found in almost every lockout tool kit which is available for consumers in the market. Knowing how to use it can avoid a lot of hassle. So let's go ahead and learn how to use a slim jim to open a car door without using the keys.
How to Use a Slim Jim to Open a Car Door
Car lock
1. To use the slim jim to unlock a car, you first need to access the car door's locking mechanism through the rubber seal present between the door and the window. The rubber seal restricts dust, debris and water from getting inside the internal space of the car's door. In a majority of old cars, this internal space houses nothing but the lock mechanism, so getting underneath the seal will allow instant access to it.

2. For the slim jim to fit inside the door, next you will have to make a gap large enough for it to slide in. To do that, you can use an appropriately thick wooden stick or a wooden wedge. Place the stick/wedge, in-between the rubber seal and window at roughly the center, and gently push it in deeper until the gap becomes wide enough. Make sure that the stick isn't too thick, and that you don't apply a lot of pressure on it or the wedge to avoid damaging the window or the seal.

3. Once the gap is wide enough, slide your slim jim inside by holding it on the opposite end of the notch. Inside, there is a thin rod which connects the door handle to the door lock. Using the slim jim you have to try to locate this rod and hook it with the notched end. In most cars, the rod is located close to the locking mechanism at the edge of the door. You might have to twist and turn trying to locate the rod, while inserting the slim jim.

4. Once the slim jim has been hooked onto the internal rod, you need to pull it up or push it down to get the door lock mechanism to open.
How to Use a Slim Jim on Power Locks
Car thief
If you own one of the modern cars equipped with a power lock, using a slim jim might not be the best option for unlocking the door. In these cars, the door houses not only the mechanical components of the lock, but also the electrical wiring which is essential for operating it. Using a slim jim in one of these cars carries the risk of damaging or breaking one or more of the electrical wires inside, which can render the entire locking mechanism non functional.

Considering the extensive repair costs that you might have to incur, most locksmiths would discourage you from using the slim jim. We too do not recommend using it, and though we will still tell you how you can, the method below shouldn't be tried unless there is absolutely no other option remaining. The following are the instructions for using a slim jim on cars with powered locks.

1. Firstly, find a wiring diagram of your car's door. Be sure to get the right one as per your car's model as well as its date of manufacture. Some modern cars have a shielding inside to prevent slim jims from reaching the lock mechanism. If your car has one of these, then quit at once, because it is impossible to use this technique for opening such locks.

2. Secondly, you need to find the thinnest slim jim available in the market for opening a powered lock. Create an opening between the rubber seal and the window glass as described in the previous section, and gently slip the slim jim inside it.

3. Navigate the slim jim carefully until you locate the locking rod. In case you encounter an obstacle inside, stop immediately and look at the door's wiring diagram to check if the obstacle is a screw or a wire. If it's a screw. simply go around it; however, if it is a wire, gently twist, turn or wiggle the slim jim until it comes loose.

4. Once you reach the locking rod, pull or push on it with the slim jim, until the door is unlocked. If you get this far, then congratulations on a job well done; however, don't get overly excited as the hard part is yet to finish! You still have to carefully and patiently remove the slim jim without letting any wire get caught in its notch. If that does happen, again wiggle it until it comes loose.
Using the steps highlighted above, you can open your car's door without the keys, and thereby slip out of a sticky situation. The slim jim is designed to work on older generation cars with manual locks. It can still be used on some old cars with power locks but on most new ones, this technique might not be effective. Hence, make sure to use it only where it is appropriate.