We’ve all been there; experiencing that sinking feeling as you realize you locked the keys inside your truck, or when your F150 has a dead battery. Either way, you need to open your locked F150 but have a thick pane of glass separating you from your keys.
How to unlock your F150 without the key?
There are a variety of methods to unlock a Ford F150 if something happened to your key. Most require the use of tools-and some re basic household items. Others are more advanced and are used by locksmiths.
So luckily, you won’t have to be shattering any windows to get inside or have to go through the hassle of waiting for and paying a locksmith just to complete a simple job. Or maybe you are the locksmith, in which case read on because these strategies apply to you, too.
I’ve explained the different methods you can use to figure out how to open a locked f150 in step-by-step detail below. Let’s dive right in, but first what will you need?
What you might need:
- Auto Jiggler tool – view on Amazon
- Steck Big Easy tool – view on Amazon
- Universal Lock Out tool – view on Amazon
Unlocking an F150 with cheap tools and methods
As I previously mentioned, there are a ton of different miscellaneous tools to help you get into your locked F150. Some of the methods require some foresight planning as the tools are not typically just laying around, so it’s up to you to decide what to try out.
1. The Auto Jiggler method
I highly recommend this method because of its simple process and relative ease. Auto Jigglers (view on Amazon)are simply key-shaped gadgets commonly used by locksmiths. Their technique is basically spelled out in the title, but I’ll break it down:
- First you must purchase a jiggler key the size of your normal one so it can fit inside the F150 keyhole.
- As the name suggests, wiggle and jiggle the key inside the keyhole until you hear a click!
- There you have it- open the door with the handle and you’re already inside.
2. The Wire Hanger method
A tool as old as time and one of the more popular ways you can unlock an F150 without the key. Wire hangers work as great tools for this method but what works even better is this awesome tool on Amazon.
This unlocking method is more complex than the previous one I listed, so let’s get right into it:
- If using a clothes hanger, straighten out the wire completely until it is a long rod, leaving the curved part as-is at the very end.
- Slightly peel open the weather stripping with your finger. The weather stripping is the black rubber seal around the F150 window. Slip in the wire between the window and stripping, either from the top or bottom of the window, holding the straight end and inserting the curvy part first.
The method varies depending on where you’ve inserted the wire. Let’s start with the top part of the window first:
- You’ve placed the wire in the interior of your F150 and can see it through the window. Now you need to latch the curved end onto the lock switch on the side of the door
- Once you have a good grip on the switch, pull up to get it unlocked.
- If the above steps are not working out, you can also push the wire onto the unlock button on the side of the door. The wire might not be strong enough, but it is possible and worth a shot.
If you’ve put in the wire from the bottom of the window, I recommend the passenger door instead because there are fewer cables than the driver’s:
- The wire is in the inside of the door and you can’t see it. Feel around for a pin to disengage the lock.
- Once you’ve grasped it with the curved end of the wire, pull towards the direction of the back of the F150.
- Once unlocked, immediately open the F150 door and retrieve your keys. You’ve done it!
If you’re more of a visual learner, check out the video below which gives you a better idea on how to open a locked f150 door without a key.
3. The Slim Jim Method
No, I’m not talking about the salty snack and I don’t recommend you try using that as it won’t get you very far. The Slim Jim I’m referring to is this unlocking tool on Amazon – designed to unlock F150 doors in super quick time.
Its strategy is fairly similar to the wire method and can be done from the back or front of your F150. You must be careful with this strategy as you could potentially deploy the side-impact airbags on a later model, and that will end up costing you a lot more than a locksmith would have charged.
Let’s start with the sliding back window as it’s less likely to cause damage:
- Approach the back window of the truck.
- Peel open the black rubber weather stripping surrounding the window with your finger.
- Insert the Slim Jim with the curved part first through the sliding window panels.
- Push the Slim Jim down gently, pulling it towards you.
- You will know when the lock has disengaged when it pops up.
- Now open the window and climb through, being careful not to fall over.
If you can’t fit inside the window, maybe it’s best to try the passenger door. As I stated before, the passenger door has less wires inside and will be easier to use:
- Pry open the weather stripping using your finger. If possible, insert a piece of cardboard or something similar to keep it open so it will be easier for you to move the tool around.
- Stick the Slim Jim between the stripping and glass from the bottom part of the window, putting the curved piece first.
- Keeping the Slim Jim vertical to avoid catching onto other wires, feel around for the lock’s control arm.
- You will know when you’ve latched on because the lock switch will start to toggle. Pull upwards slowly until the door unlocks.
- Unhook the Slim Jim from the wire and carefully remove it from the door.
The process is fairly difficult and may take several attempts, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work right away.
4. The String Method
Now we’re getting really crafty. No joke, this actually works – all you need to bring along is a string and some patience. You will need a sturdy and skinny string at least 36 inches long. A few examples of the ideal string that is both effective and easy to find are:
- Coat drawstrings
- Sweatpants drawstrings
Once you’ve located one of these strings or something similar, you’re ready to really get things started:
- Make a slipknot. If you know how, skip ahead to step two. Otherwise read on:
- Loop the string around your pointer and middle fingers, going from top to bottom.
- Circle the bottom piece of string you are holding around the top piece.
- Using the index or middle finger holding the loop, grab onto the piece you just looped and pull it through the hole.
- Loosen the string by pulling the bottom side of the loop or tighten by pulling the top side past the knot.
You can also learn how to make a slipknot with this quick and easy video.
- Tighten your slipknot until it is a small circle in the middle of your string.
- Insert the knot into the top right edge of the driver door.
- Hold the string from both ends and move it back and forth to get it further into the door, similar to the movement you make when you floss your teeth.
- Once you’re far enough inside, pull the string forcefully towards you to create a space in the top op the door and stick a cardboard or rubber wedge to hold it open. This step isn’t totally necessary but makes it much easier to function.
- Place the slipknot around the lock switch and tighten for a better grip. Make sure not to loosen your hold or you will have to repeat this step.
- Pull up to unlock the door. Be careful if you used something heavy to keep the door wedged open as I noted in step five, because it will fall out.
That’s all there is to it! It’s a simple and fairly easy process, and probably the most convenient if you don’t have any tools laying around.
5. The Paperclip Method
I call this the paperclip method, but a bobby pin will get the job done too if you still want to know how to unlock f150 with dead battery. Unlike the previous few strategies, this doesn’t require any weird tricks to force the door open. Let’s get started:
- Grab two paperclips- one will be your tension wrench and the other will be your pick. Make sure they are big enough to be able to hold as you insert them into the lock.
- Using pliers or your hands, unfold one side of the first paperclip to create an L-shape. One side should still be folded in half and the other should be longer and straight. This will be your tension wrench.
- Stick the folded end into the bottom of the keyhole, also known as the shear line.
- Applying enough pressure to pick the lock but not too much to bend your paperclip out of shape, turn in the direction that the lock turns. If you’re not sure what that is, just guess- you have a 50/50 chance of getting it right and if you don’t, simply try the other way the next time.
- Unfold the other paperclip. This will be your rake.
- Insert the rake with the loop end into the top part of the keyhole and pull it out quickly while jiggling it upwards. Continue repeating this action. Meanwhile, keep applying pressure to the tension wrench.
- While doing step six, use the rake to feel around for pins. You need to depress about five pins by pushing lightly. You will hear or feel a click for each pin you depress. Experienced pickers can accomplish this in one motion, but if you’re a novice don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries.
- Keep turning the tension and wrench and moving the pickup and down. You will know when you’ve hit all the pins because the door will unlock.
To visualize the technique, watch this quick tutorial.
This method is essentially simulating the movement of a key. Using a jiggler key as I described previously is much more effortless, but we’re not always prepared for disaster, so keep this alternative handy.
6. The Window Method
This trick only works on older models of locked Ford F150s. If your windows aren’t all the way up, you can actually slide them down! Here’s how:
- Place your whole hand on the window.
- Rock back and forth while pushing down gently.
- When the opening is big enough, stick your arm in to unlock the door.
Will these unlocking methods damage your F150?
After soaking in all this information, you’re probably wondering how your beloved truck will be affected by the process. Not all of the methods are damage-inducing, but unfortunately some may cause some problems.
As you can imagine, peeling open the weather stripping as I mentioned in the Slim Jim and wire hanger methods can’t be healthy for the vehicle. Especially if you used a wedge to hold it open, the weather stripping could potentially remain stretched out and unattached.
In the worst-case scenario, it will ultimately fall off and you’ll have to purchase and reapply a new one, unless you don’t mind air leaks.
The Slim Jim and wire hanger methods also require keeping the door ajar, as might the string method. The wedge, wire, Slim Jim, or whatever else may have rubbed forcefully against the side of the truck during the procedure could potentially scratch the paint off.
Continuing on-topic with the Slim Jim and wire hanger methods, if you use the tools on the bottom interior side of the door, you could latch onto the wrong piece and cause unwanted damage.
Alternatively, the auto jiggler and paperclip methods only require use of the keyhole and will not cause interior or exterior damage to your vehicle.
You’ll have to use your better judgement to decide whether these techniques are worth the time and effort. Sometimes the cost of a locksmith is less than the hassle that these methods require.
Are these F150 unlocking methods legal?
Breaking into your own F150 is not illegal. That being said, just because you know you are doesn’t mean everyone else is aware. You should always keep your registration on hand in the rare case that you’re accused of anything suspicious. Either way, it’s best to have your registration in the car for other emergency situations as well.
Can you use these methods on a vehicle that’s not a Ford F150? Absolutely. Should you use them on other people’s cars? Absolutely not.
How to stop yourself getting locked out
Now that you’ve experienced the agony that comes with being locked out of your F150, you probably never want to suffer that way again. How can you avoid this nightmare?
1. Keyless entry
Newer F150 models will have numbered buttons on the driver door. Set them up with a number sequence that’s easy to remember and you’ll never have to worry about your keys again! Your driver’s manual should explain the instructions for the programming process.
If you can’t find the manual and don’t remember the factory settings, don’t worry. You can find the numbers by following these steps:
- At the bottom right end of the passenger side by the floor is a panel. Locate and remove the panel.
- You will see a white sticker behind some red wires. The numbers on the sticker are the pre-programmed key to your driver door.
This short tutorial explains how to locate the factory numbers.
2. Spare keys
Naturally, keeping extra keys laying around will help when one of them is inaccessible. It’s more effective if you’re locked out of your F150 in your driveway or you’re close to home and someone can bring over a backup.
Otherwise, you could store one in a magnetic lock box connected to your car (if you’re not worried about thieves) or keep an extra key in your pocket if you’re up for the challenge.
Making a quick visit to your local locksmith to copy your keys is easy and inexpensive, and I recommend you take that extra effort.
3. Have a system
If you always remember to keep your keys in your pocket or purse, you’ll never have a mishap. I know, this is obviously easier said than done, but training the mind to be more aware can really help you avoid accidents.
4. Use a retractable leash
If none of the above recommendations will cut it for you, try attaching your keys to a retractable leash that is also attached to your clothing. Then try leaving them in the ignition as you walk away. Not a chance! Your keys will literally be attached to the hip.
5. Remote unlocking
If this situation has happened to you time and time again and you just know these options are not going to work, consider subscribing to a remote unlocking company like OnStar. If you call for help, they will unlock your car on the spot.
So, there you have it. Some tried and trusted methods you can use if you want to know how to open a locked Ford truck when you don’t have the key or when the battery is dead. You might also like these other tutorials recently published with Ford F150 hacks: