The first guy or gal to open a car back in the day, most likely threw a rock through the window. As things advanced and vehicles became motor driven and were designed with glass enclosures a new tool came into existence. They called it a brick and it was very effective in creating an access to the inside of the vehicle!
Somewhere around the 1930s when the coat hanger was becoming widespread, people began to sort out how they could use it to get inside cars. The metal hanger could be unfolded and pushed into the inside of the door. A hook fashioned at the end of the coat hanger got the job done. It was effective as long as the person was patient and didn’t over extend the ability of the hanger to keep its shape. The hanger also had a tendency to damage the rubber weather-stripping in the door.
Around the beginning of the 1950s, the Slim Jim was created. It’s actual origin is somewhat cloudy and the locksmith stories abound about how it actually came about. But, nevertheless it began to catch on and locksmiths along with the general public saw its practical use as important.
The original Slim Jims were designed and intended to push down or pull up something called the “lazy pawl” which is connected to the back of the door lock cylinder. Here is a picture of the “pawl.”
The strategy here is to insert the Slim Jim in line with the lock cylinder. When the “lazy pawl” was contacted and based on its design, one either pushed down or pulled up on the “pawl.”
After this, the pawls began to be made in a fixed position. This required that Slim Jims be redesigned. They had now to be bent to an approximate 35 degrees about 8” from the tip. This bent design was used to access a vertical rod. At this point, we begin to see the action typically associated with a Slim Jim. That of sending it vertically down and into the car door directly below the top button head of the locking mechanism.
After this, automobile engineers began redesigning doors to make the inside of cars more silent and access by thieves more complicated. This is when horizontal lock/unlock linkage systems came into use. The use of the Slim Jim changed. It was now necessary to insert it at the very middle of the door and angle it backwards toward the rear of the door. The lock could be opened by lifting up or going down on the horizontal lock/unlock rod.
In the 1980s, locking mechanisms changed yet again. At this point, more insulation was placed between the driver and the outside of the door. In addition, engineers created lining systems that moved with cable locking mechanisms. There were not many moving parts in this kind of system and the design necessitated the creation of what we now know as a Multi-Car Opening Tool (MCOT). That design looks like this.
This multi tool can be used in a variety of ways and with many different automobiles. Once this tool is inserted into the door you may either depress the power lock button, depress the manual lock/unlock button, or manipulate the inside pull handle. Many redesigns of the MOCT have taken place over the years as car design changed.
As the 90s and 2000s rolled around, the inside locking mechanisms became so sophisticated the Long Reach tool had to be created. The tool is inserted just like previous versions, but is intended to manipulate the lock/unlock button, lock lever, vertical button or the pull handle. You may also retrieve keys with this Long Reach tool. It is pictured here.
There is a tool that has been around for a good while that can still be used in cars that do not have electric locks. It’s called a Slim Jim and is also known as a lockout tool. It’s a strip of metal made of spring steel about 60 cm long and 2-4 cm wide. The first company to manufacture this amazing strip of metal was HPC Inc.
You can use this thing on your car when you are stranded. The long metal works on the levers and rods inside the door of your car instead of the locking mechanism. You just place one end of the metal between the car window and the rubber seal. Your goal is to catch the rods connecting the inner workings of the locking mechanicals. If you are patient and can reach the rods, you can move the rods which will move the portion of the lock you see through the window.
You must be careful with a Slim Jim. If it is used incorrectly, this tool may alter the locking mechanism in the car door. If you are new to this device, make sure you consult with a locksmith and get the proper training for its use.
Here is a brief and beginning, step by step instruction for the use of a Slim Jim.
Go to the passenger side of the car. You will be attempting to unlock this side of the car.
Insert a wedge between the window and the weather stripping. You may purchase a rubber wedge from a hardware store.
Slide the Slim Jim into the space created by the wedge. Your goal is to find a horizontally directed bar that runs across the inside of the door. Using the hook portion of the rod, attempt to move this bar.
Observe the lock inside the window and see if it moves.
You will either push down or pull up based on the model of the vehicle.
You see, it is actually very simple in terms of actual steps to take. The most difficult part, of course is finding the correct bar or rod to move. This may require several trial and error attempts. Just keep your eye on the visible portion of the lock inside the window. When you see it jiggle or move upward, you are on the right track.
Here is a video that will allow you to see the process in action.
If you don’t happen to have a Slim Jim handy when you are locked out, you may also use the windshield wipers as a Slim Jim.
Take a look at this…
Remember, if you, a loved one or a friend get locked out of your car and you don’t have one of these tools, you can always call me. I’m Mark and you can reach me by completing the contact form on this website or
Email Me At Mark@24houremergencylocksmithsbelfast.com
Telephone Number 07866522422