Locking Your Keys in the Car can Ruin Your Day – or not!

Recently I did something silly that many of us do quite often – I almost locked the keys in the van with the engine running.  Fortunately, there is a cheap and effective thing you can do to save your butt if this should happen.

Wednesday morning had one of those multitasking starts (where I screw up several things simultaneously).  While listening to a news story about the apprehension of a person who hurt a local police officer, I was searching for an insulin syringe, packing up the TV antenna, and trying to warm up the van at the same time.  After slamming the side cargo door and ensuring it was locked, I tested the passenger’s door.  It was secured as well.  Then the heart rate accelerated as I tugged on the back door – it was locked.  A glance at the driver’s door showed the window rolled up.  Panic almost set in as the V8 engine patiently sighed “blub-blub-blub-blub” as it leisurely peed evening condensation from the tailpipe.

I frantically tugged on the driver’s door handle and was relieved that it opened.  Thank God it was unlocked…this time.  Fortunately, there was never anything to worry about.  I have a spare key hidden in a special way in a special place.  It was not like the fishing trip twenty years ago when I had to smash out a window in the truck to retrieve the spare keys.  Five bucks and a few minutes work concealing a key are worth it!

I use one of those “hide-a-key” boxes that attach to a metal surface via a magnet.  They can save you a fortune in unlocking or towing costs.  The only drawback is that the ding-dang things fall off too easily at times because the magnet included is not robust enough.  I overcame that by super-gluing two of the “super magnets” (discussed in a previous blog entry) to strengthen the attraction.  It takes a nice “tug” to free the key holder.

Here are a few tips:

1)  Glue on some super magnets.  I don’t feel the stock magnet is intended to hold the box in place very well on bumpy roads.  I recommend three super magnets but at a minimum, at least affix two.  When using two, should one come off, you still have enough pull to hold the box in place.
2)  Stick the key holder facing UP.  If it’s pointing down, driving forces and gravity could dislodge it..

3)  Hide it out of sight – I like using the frame.  My friend uses a place near the engine.

4)  Check the key holder before every trip or two.

Have a great day today and have a lot of fun today!  When I woke up on Wednesday it was 75 in the van… 16 degrees outside!  With each temperature drop, it’s exciting to see that this van camping/ living is doable.  I can’t wait till the snow starts!

Take care and thanks for visiting and commenting.  It’s really a lot of fun sharing and exchanging information and ideas. 


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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

5 Responses to Locking Your Keys in the Car can Ruin Your Day – or not!

  1. Wanderoke says:

    Great reminder!

    I have also heard of people using plastic zip ties to secure those key boxes. I like your magnet better, no need to cut the plastic tie when the key is needed.

  2. Bradford H. says:

    Good point about the zip ties. They are cool to use for stuff, too. I was thinking about getting some black ones to transform the tangle of cables near the TV to something that actually looks planned. 🙂

    It’s amazing what you can do with zip ties, electrical tape (or duct tape), magnets, velcro, etc. Makes one wish for a MacGyver re-run to come on TV.

    Thanks for the post and enjoy the day.

  3. Wolf says:

    Yes this reminds me of what I WAS GOING TO DO.


  4. Well, I locked myself out yesterday and it costs $40 to get in again. My insurance will refund it. I had run out to get something… just for a second… had to search around for what I wanted, hopped out and the second I locked the door and let go… I knew I didn’t have my keys. Appreciate the idea bout the magnets. Where did you put them… inside the box, on top of the box and turn the box upside down??? You got to draw me a picture. I’m also thinking of putting my spare on a shoelace and wearing it full time.

  5. Bradford H. says:

    Hi. That’s a nice idea about having the shoelace hold a spare key. Anything that works is peace of mind.

    I turned the hide-a-key over and glued the magnets on the bottom of the box. Then I set the keyholder right side up on top of the van’s frame. I have to remove the entire box to open it.

    I tested the magnets on my Dad and two friends – all seniors. Each one tried to remove it from a table leg at the local McDonalds where we hang out. Each had to try a second time due to the strength of the magnets. All three people said something positive.

    I remember years ago (and 170 lbs lighter) when I ran marathons. During those races and even the training runs, I always carried a car key on a shoelace. It worked great.

    Thanks for commenting.