It’s easy to do. You’re struggling with the baby bag and unbuckling the toddler as your phone starts buzzing somewhere in your purse. Too many things are going on at once. You press the auto-lock on the door and slam it shut as you put the baby on your hip – then it hits you.
There. On the car seat. There are your keys.
You need an automotive locksmith
Siri gives you a list of locksmiths in the area, but which one do you choose? Before you randomly pick one from that list, stop and ask yourself a few questions. It could make a huge difference in whether locking your keys in the car is just a minor inconvenience or a disaster.
Check Your AAA or Insurance Policy First
If you have roadside assistance, your insurance is a valuable source of referrals. Most auto insurance companies have a list of vetted and reputable locksmiths that are available to you at either no- or low-cost depending on your policy.
All Locksmiths are Not Created Equal
Unfortunately, some people are willing to scam someone who is in a bind. Locksmiths who are unethical may bump up their rates if they think you’re desperate. Others may not know duly certified and damage your car while trying to get it unlocked. Even though you’re in a stressful situation, it is worth it to call a few locksmiths before you decide on one.
Questions to Ask a Locksmith
Do they work on Autos? Some locksmiths specialize in cars. Others work solely on houses or commercial projects. Verify the type of work they do up front to make certain you’re dealing with an automotive specialist.
The last thing you want is someone who has limited experience with cars damaging your vehicle trying to get it open.
Are they licensed and insured? In the state of California, locksmiths are required to be licensed with the state. A legitimate company should also make sure its employees are protected against accidents. Make sure your auto locksmith is both licensed and insured. Even better, ask if the company conducts background checks on their employees before anyone is dispatched to your location.
What are their rates? There can be a huge variance in rates, from $20 to $150 per occurrence, with many charging a premium for the weekend or after hours service. Call a few places and get an idea of what is reasonable for your area. While you don’t want to get fleeced paying more than you have to, you may want to reconsider that discount auto locksmith as well. The adage holds true here as everywhere else:
You get what you pay for
How long can you expect to wait for service? You may be offered a great rate, but is it worth it if you have to wait by your car for hours until they get there?
Getting locked out of your vehicle is never expected, and it’s certainly never convenient. But there’s no reason it has to ruin your day, either. With a few phone calls and some quick questions, you can make the process painless and feel confident that the automotive locksmith helping you is trustworthy and professional.