Thursday, July 6, 2017


Lost keys are the biggest irritant in running a car dealership. Next are keys locked in vehicles. A Momma Fargo blog started this trip down memory lane.

For years a “slim jim” was the tool of choice to open many cars and trucks. As years passed, locking systems became more sophisticated. With money you can buy tools that work. Knowledge to use them, not so much.

So here is the “Frank the Tank” surefire way to open a car. You need a 4” nylon wedge. Nylon, because it doesn’t scratch paint. Next, a Snap On inflatable bladder. Last, a stout 4’ aluminum rod made for the purpose.

Start at the top of the door at the B pillar. Use the wedge to slightly bend out the door and work the bladder between the door and the frame. Inflate the bladder. Push the wedge in as far as possible, deflate the bladder, and work it in further. 

Keep repeating these steps until you have a large enough gap to insert the rod. Use the rod to push on electric door lock buttons or work it to pull on the door latch. I’ve opened every brand of car I needed this way.

Electronics have made car security much better and, as usual, more expensive. Replacing the keys and remotes on a high end European car is an $800+ proposition and may require a trip to the dealer.

One strategy is to enter your key code on your smart phone which can speed up the process. If Murphy is your pal, it will be locked in your car with your keys.

Back in the day I violated one of my “words to live by – don’t date someone crazier than yourself” by dating a policewoman. Worse, she worked in the precinct our dealership operated. I was her go to guy when she needed something unlocked. Could have done without the Mustang with a three day old dead body inside.  Furthermore, she might have been on shift at 0300 but I was asleep. What a man will do for……………

My own vehicles? Hide A Key magnetic holder. Yah, yah, the thieves know where to look. They will find it eventually, emphasis on eventually, but few will spend that much time. I have enough brain farts in the course of a year to use up my four AAA calls.

Another handy tool for the car lot. Don’t be Eric.

“Look at this nice Explorer I just stole” (under allowed on the trade) bragged Eric the new car desk man as he pulled the trade onto the used car lot from the new car store across the street.

“Hope you did”, I replied. “Not a lot of call for 2wd Explorers”.

“Nooooooo”, says Eric, famous for taking in trades with no catalytic converters.

Free tip. Always examine the underside of anything you are buying.

One last story. Once worked one day a week at a big car auction. The guy who was the top dog was an asshole’s asshole. One day he got in my face. Nothing I did wrong, the car was junk and broke down in the lane. Knowing it was my last day, put all the keys to a Mercedes down a PortaPotty on my way out. No one who knows me from the car biz will be surprised.


  1. And a lot of states considered them burglar tools... Sigh...

    1. Context. If you are driving around better be able to prove you are a locksmith or a repo man.

  2. Technology is your enemy and tools are your friend...and the AH boss is lucky that you didn't stick his head into the blue water.

    1. Hmm. Been awhile but I know where he drinks after work

  3. OUCH.....I bet that cost them a small fortune....

    1. Figure a G. Not to mention the pissed off dealer that bought the sled and hadn't taken possession.