That Terrible feeling of frustration when you stare at your locked car door can be averted if you have knowledge of how to use a slim jim tool (with diagrams). A slim jim is a strip of metal with a notched end. First, you need to determine whether your car has the right locks for a slim jim. Then, you need to unlock the door using the slim jim tool.
Learning how to use a slim jim starts with an understanding of car door locks. please note that your car’s make, model and year will determine if you can use a slim jim tool to open it.
Most car door locks function by means of a control arm. The control arm activates when the car key is turned in the lock, but can also be bypassed in order to open the door without a key.
The slim Jim’s notched end is used to access this control arm via the car window.
How to Determine If a Slim Jim Tool Will Work for You
Before you can use a Slim Jim Tool, it’s important you check or know if the slim jim will work for you, and in order to do that, there are certain steps for you to follow.
- Make sure your car doesn’t have electric locks. Trying to use a slim jim tool on an electric or power car lock will do nothing but terribly scratch your window and damage the electronics in your car door. There might be other ways to unlock the door, but don’t try using a slim jim.
- Ensure your car has upright locks. These Car locks look like small cylinders and are found near the bottom of the car window, where it meets the door. Kindly Note that these locks are usually found on cars manufactured in 1992 or before. If your car was made afterwards, it might still have these locks, but the car door may have electronics, wires or even airbags that make using a slim jim tool more difficult.
NB: If you’re unsure what locks are on your car, you should consult the user’s manual, or try researching your car model online.
- Call a locksmith if you’re still unsure. If it’s not obvious whether your car has the right locks for a slim jim, you should strongly consider calling a locksmith. Using a slim jim on the wrong type of locks could seriously damage your car. A locksmith might seem expensive, but the repairs on your car could be moreso.
How to use a slim jim tool (with diagrams)
Now that you have learnt how to check if your car is using the right car locks for a slim jim tool and you are sure of your car using the right locks we are going to move forward to learning How to use a slim jim tool (with diagrams).
1. To use the slim jim tool to unlock a car, you first need to access the car door’s locking mechanism through the rubber seal present between the door and the window.
The rubber seal restricts dust, debris, and water from getting inside the internal space of the car’s door.
In a majority of old cars, this internal space houses nothing but the lock mechanism, so getting underneath the seal will allow instant access to it.
However, professional locksmiths try opening the passenger side door. That way, if you make a mistake and damage the door’s mechanism, it won’t be the door you use most.
2. For the slim jim to fit inside the door, next you will have to make a wedge large enough for it to slide in. To do that, you can use an appropriately thick wooden stick or a wooden wedge.
Place the stick/wedge, in-between the rubber seal and window at roughly the centre, and gently push it in deeper until the gap becomes wide enough.
Make sure that the stick isn’t too thick, and that you don’t apply a lot of pressure on it or the wedge to avoid damaging the window or the seal.
3. Once the gap is wide enough, slide your slim jim inside by holding it on the opposite end of the notch. Inside, there is a thin rod which connects the door handle to the door lock.
Using the slim jim you have to try to locate this rod and hook it with the notched end. In most cars, the rod is located close to the locking mechanism at the edge of the door.
You might have to twist and turn trying to locate the rod while inserting the slim jim.
4. Once the slim jim has been hooked onto the internal rod, you need to pull it up or push it down to get the door lock mechanism to open.
5. Avoid making multiple attempts to open the door. If you can’t get the door unlocked after one or two attempts, it’s best to stop before you cause any damage to it. Unlocking a locked door is a very technical skill; don’t feel bad if you’re not able to get it open. Get a professional to open your car door and call a locksmith.
How to Use a Slim Jim tool on Power Locks
If you happen to own one of these modern cars built with a power lock, using a slim jim tool might not be the best option for unlocking the door.
In these cars, the door does not only contain the mechanical components of the lock, but also the electrical wiring which is essential for operating it.
Using a slim jim tool in one of these modern cars bears the risk of damaging one or more of the electrical wires inside, which can render the entire locking mechanism useless.
Considering the expensive repair costs that you might have to incur, Majority of locksmiths would discourage you from using the slim jim.
I personally do not recommend using it, and though I will still tell you how you can, the method below shouldn’t be tried unless there is absolutely no other option remaining.
The following are the instructions for using a slim jim on cars with powered locks.
1. Firstly, find a wiring diagram of your car’s door. Be sure to get the right one as per your car’s model as well as its date of manufacture. Some modern cars have a shielding inside to prevent slim jims from reaching the lock mechanism. If your car has one of these, then quit at once, because it is impossible to use this technique for opening such locks.
2. Secondly, you need to find the thinnest slim jim available in the market for opening a powered lock. Create an opening between the rubber seal and the window glass as described in the previous section, and gently slip the slim jim inside it.
3. Navigate the slim jim carefully until you locate the locking rod. In case you encounter an obstacle inside, stop immediately and look at the door’s wiring diagram to check if the obstacle is a screw or a wire.
If it’s a screw. simply go around it; however, if it is a wire, gently twist, turn or wiggle the slim jim until it comes loose.
4. Once you reach the locking rod, pull or push on it with the slim jim, until the door is unlocked. If you get this far, then congratulations on a job well done; however, don’t get overly excited as the hard part is yet to finish!
You still have to carefully and patiently remove the slim jim without letting any wire get caught in its notch.
If that does happen, again wiggle it until it comes loose.
Using the steps highlighted above, you can open your car’s door without the keys, and thereby slip out of a sticky situation.
The slim jim is designed to work on older generation cars with manual locks. It can still be used on some old cars with power locks but on most new ones, this technique might not be effective.
Hence, make sure to use it only where it is appropriate.