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What Is a Slim Jim Tool and How Do Automobile Locksmiths Use It?

Car lockouts are emergencies that can be tackled by professional automotive locksmiths with the help of a plethora of tools. Today, we are going to discuss one of the most popular and controversial of them: slim jims.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about slim jims and their level of safety when used by locksmiths, car owners, or opportunist thieves. Our experts have compiled a comprehensive guide covering interesting topics including how to use slim jims with minimum risks and which cars can these tools open.

We are ready to share our knowledge and rich expertise with you, so, without further ado, let’s get started.

What Is a Slim Jim Tool?

Simply put, a slim jim is a long tool made of steel or other types of strong and flexible metal that features several hooks at the end. It is used to unlock car doors whenever the keys are missing or broken or when dealing with a discharged car battery. Given the purpose they serve, slim jims also need to be particularly slim so they can easily reach the locking mechanisms on vehicles - hence their name.

While mostly used by professional car locksmiths, law enforcement officers, car dealerships, and security staff, similar to other tools used by these specialists, opportunist thieves have also adapted them to serve their own needs.

A slim jim tool kit used by a car locksmith usually consists of a wide selection of different slim jim lockout tools, ranging from super slim jims, round slim jims, slide jim tools, and 30-inch slim jim tools, usually accompanied by standard instruction books. The more versatile and diversified a slim jim tool kit, the easier it is for locksmiths to handle an emergency auto lockout scenario.

Now that you've learned what a slim jim is made of, it is time to move forward and explain how they work.

How to Use Slim Jims on a Car Door

Slim jims are used on vehicles that feature door locks that can be unlocked once the wire tied to them is pulled correctly. These tools are needed to reach the respective wire whenever the keys are missing. Prior to using a slim jim on a car, our lock technicians always inspect the locks and determine if it is appropriate to use the respective tool on them. After the assessment, they focus on the passenger side of the vehicle and place the slim jim tool between the frame and the rubber strip seen along it.

Using slow and smooth motions, they slide the slim jim along the window, following the direction of the keyhole. Once the lock starts to move slightly, it means that the tool has reached the mechanism. This gives our technicians the green light to move alongside the locking system and carefully engage the linking levers and rods and slowly activate the car door by grabbing onto the mechanism and pulling the tool up using gentle moves.

Does a Slim Jim Work on All Cars?

Shortly put, no. Slim jims are only usually effective when used on older models of vehicles that feature standard mechanical locks. As a result, attempts to use slim jims to unlock newer car models will not usually prevail given the complex electrical wiring where a slim jim could easily get caught. This could easily result in damage to the lock and failure to get access to the inside of the car as intended. For lockout emergencies on modern-day cars with smart locks in place, we recommended you call a 24/7 car locksmith service. Expert lock technicians like the ones at LocksmithsPros use advanced lock picking kits needed to instantly fix and replace any broken transponder key and electronic lock problems that may be causing the lockout.

There are also cars that feature slim jim shields made of sturdy fabrics that will prevent slim jim tools to get past them. This also renders these tools useless when used on these vehicles.

Do Slim Jims Damage Cars?

Since not all car makes and models support the safe use of slim jims in case of lockouts, it is easy to see why these tools could damage the respective vehicles, especially when used by car owners themselves in an attempt to unlock the doors during an emergency. Here are some of the main scenarios in which you are most likely to damage your car’s fiber optic cables, airbags, or wiring by using a slim jim:

  • you are not 100% sure that your car’s locking mechanism can support a slim jim tool

  • you have never used the slim jim method before and you are simply not confident enough that you have the skills to open the door on your own

  • you are not convinced that you own the right type of slim jim for your car’s lock mechanism

  • you have manufactured a slim jim tool on your own following a DIY tutorial and you are not sure how efficient it is

How to Make a Slim Jim: DIY Tips

Now that you know what is a slim jim tool and how to use a slim jim tool, you might be wondering if it is possible to manufacture such a tool on your own, in case of an emergency.

The short answer is yes. Start by finding a proper base for the tool. This could be a long and thin piece of solid material such as a ruler made of metal, a coat hanger, or a simple piece of metal that fits the requirements.

Next, straighten the metal and create a small hook on one of the ends. For coat hangers, you will need to unbend the hook part and mold it accordingly. For metal rulers, cut a notch on the end. To test the slim jim, slowly insert it into the wedge in the proximity of the door lock and see if it works. Keep in mind that while this may be a cheap and fast way of attempting to unlock a car without hiring a locksmith for it, it is not recommended for everyone due to the high risk of damage.

Final Thoughts

All in all, losing the keys to your car or dealing with a faulty lock that prevents you from entering your vehicle are problems that have quick and safe fixes today. While using a slim jim is one of them, it only gives the desired results when used by seasoned locksmiths on old models of cars that are usually less secure. While slim jims may appear to be simple tools that can be used by car owners themselves, they are not as practical in real life and can easily cause costly damage to a vehicle. When dealing with any type of lock or key emergency that is stopping you from getting into your car, we recommend giving our 24/7 emergency locksmith experts a call. We are fast, affordable, and we have just the right tools and expertise to use them on any vehicle.