Tips on Unlocking a Jeep Cherokee Without the Keys

This is a really frustrating occurrence. You close the door of the vehicle after making sure to depress the locking mechanism and then you discover the key that works the lock is inside the vehicle.

There are methods of opening a vehicle so you can retrieve the keys. The following tips will give you some ideas and possibly save you the cost of a locksmith.

How to Unlock Jeep Cherokee with Keys Inside 

Unlocking your Jeep Cherokee with the keys inside may require the assistance of a Slim Jim or thin rod.

Unlocking Newer Model Jeep Cherokee with Key Inside

Before we delve into how to use a Slim Jim to open a locked car door we will talk about the newer models of cars.

Newer vehicles have different locking mechanisms available, such as remote entry and keyless entry systems. Some of them, like the Jeep Cherokee, may come with an App like Uconnect.

If you do have Uconnect and your vehicle gets locked with the keys inside it you can this app you will be able to open the locks without a lot of work or worry.


The FOB is supposed to allow you to unlock or lock the vehicle doors as long as you are within range of the FOB. This range is normally about five feet.

If the FOB is inside the vehicle, it would be within the five-foot range so simply touching the door lock may allow you to gain entry.

Stop and Think

If the vehicle has a soft top in place getting inside may be as easy as using a knife to cut the material of the top.

If the vehicle has soft side windows these window panels can also be cut with a knife.

Do not result in breaking your window glass unless there is a dire situation that forces you to do so. If you have locked an infant or a small animal inside the vehicle with the keys and the outside temperature is high enough to cause the infant or animal harm then breaking the glass may be your only alternative.

Older Vehicles or Vehicles without Keyless Entry Systems

There are several different methods you can try to help you open the doors of your locked vehicle if you forget and lock the keys inside.

The one thing that you need, no matter what unlocking method you employ, is patience. Take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and remain as calm as possible while you try to work the problem out.

Call a Lock Smith

If everything you try fails then you can always call a locksmith to come to your assistance. 

We placed this as a first alternative to helping get the door unlocked because if you have locked an infant inside the vehicle then you need the doors opened as quickly as possible. A locksmith may be the fastest way to get the doors open.

If you do not know a locksmith or cannot find the number to a locksmith, call the police. The police can often unlock the door and when they cannot unlock it they can call a locksmith for you.

Use a Slim Jim

Professionals call this tool a lockout tool. Most other people simply call it a Slim Jim. It is typically made of a thin strip of steel that measures about two feet in length. 

The Slim Jim is inserted close to the window of the vehicle and then maneuvered to the locking mechanism so it can lift the interconnecting rod of the lock and let you open the door.

If you do not carry one of these lockout tools with you it is possible to use something close to you in place of the tool.

The most common replacement for the Slim Jim is a coat hanger that is made of metal. Plastic coat hangers do not work, and coated wire coat hangers are very difficult to use. The traditional wire coat hanger can be bent and shaped so that it is easy to slip between the car window and the rubber seal so you can unlock the door.

A shoelace may also be a tool that can replace a Slim Jim.

  • You will need to tie a loop in one end of the lace.
  • Now hold the other end of the lace firmly in your hand.
  • Work the lace between the glass and the rubber gasket and try to drop the loop you tied on the other end over the locking mechanism on the vehicle door.
  • When the loop is over the locking mechanism pulls upwards on the lace to tighten it so it can work the lock.

A Thin Strip of Plastic May Be Able To Help You Manipulate The Lock.

If you have a piece of plastic like the plastic straps that are used to tie things down on a pallet or wrapped around a package to secure the package then you may be able to use that plastic like the shoelace and open the lock.

Windows with Wings

Some of the older model vehicle windows had two sections. The large flat section and close to the spine of the car door was a small triangular-shaped wing window.

It is often easier to pry the small wing window and make it open far enough that you can slip your arm, or something like a coat hanger inside the vehicle and unlock the lock on the door.

Try a Tennis Ball

If you have a tennis ball handy you may be able to force air into the lock with one of these balls.

  • Take the ball and make a hole in it.
  • Place the ball over the section of the lock that the key should insert into.
  • Push firmly on the ball.
  • The force of air into the locking mechanism may cause the lock to release.

Lock Picks

If you have a set of lock picks, and the vehicle has an old-style lock that has tumblers inside then you may be able to use the lock picks to manipulate the tumblers and unlock the door.

Did You Know?

Prior to 1920 cars did not have locks installed on the doors.

The worst thing you can do if you lock your keys in your car is panic? If you panic you lose the ability to think clearly and your hands will be unable to do the tricky maneuvers required to open the door.

Thieves and ne’er-do-wells will place a quarter under the handle of a car door to interfere with the keyless locking system. They do this to give them time to grab you or your purse. Always look at your car door before you try to unlock it and you will avoid this ruse.

You can pry the door using a tire tool and insert a wedge between the door and the frame of the vehicle? This might help you unlock the vehicle but it is going to damage your door.

In older models of vehicles, there were separate keys for unlocking the trunk and the door. In these older cars, it is possible to unlock the trunk of the car and gain entry through the backseat.


How Do I Get The Keys Out of My Locked Jeep Cherokee?

You will have to use something that will allow you to unlock the vehicle or you could cut the soft top if you have a soft-top vehicle.

Can a Jeep Lock With Keys Inside?

Yes, you can manually push the lock button before you close the door and the lock will engage even if the keys are inside the vehicle if you have an older model Cherokee. Newer models with keyless entry usually will NOT lock with the FOB inside the vehicle.

How to Cut Open a Padlock on Your Jeep Cherokee?

Bolt cutters are the best way to cut a padlock and make it open.

Final Thoughts

Locking your keys in the car happens to the majority of all car owners at some time in their lives. Some of us have done this so many times that we carry a spare key in our wallet or hide a spare key on the vehicle body that we can use when we lock the keys inside the next time. If this is your first time to do this, welcome to the club, and hopefully this will never happen to you again.

Related Jeep Cherokee Articles You May have Interest>>
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2. What Does It Mean When Jeep Cherokee Says Service Shifter Light?
3. How to Put Jeep Cherokee in 4 Wheel Drive
4. How Much Does it Cost to Lift a Jeep Cherokee XJ (DIY or Professional)?

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