Using an Inspection Camera to Unlock a Car Door

An inspection camera, or borescope, is an optical device made up of a length of fiber optic — the camera shaft — which connects to a display screen, enabling you to feed the narrow end of the inspection-camera’s shaft into hard-to-reach areas while observing what the camera captures on the inspection camera’s screen.

When you need to open a locked car door and do not have keys, an inspection camera is incredibly valuable and convenient. Once you have inserted the inspection camera’s scope into the the intervening space between the car door and the window, you can identify the lock control mechanism, allowing you to open the locked car door without any fuss.

(Note: Because it is against the law, never use a lock-opening device on someone else’s car without their express permission. Even with permission, you should check with local law-enforcement before unlocking the door of someone else’s car.)

Start by inserting a plastic wedge, which you can find at any home-improvement store, between the car’s window and door in order to create a gap between the two with sufficient room to insert the scope of your inspection camera.

After ensuring that there is enough room and that the wedge will not slip, insert the camera shaft and, while simultaneously observing the image on the screen of the inspection camera, determine the location of the lock control rod, which connects the key control on the cylinder mounted on your car’s door to the internal lock control.

Next you will insert a “Slim Jim” auto-lock opener or a wire coat hanger with a bent tip. As you look at the display of the inspection camera, situate the Slim Jim or coat hanger over the lock control rod and try either pushing down, pulling up, or pushing the rod sideways — whichever direction will toggle the lock control into the open position.

After you open the car door’s lock, carefully remove the Slim Jim/coat hanger, the shaft of the inspection camera, and the plastic wedge. Once everything is out, you can go ahead and open your newly unlocked car door.

Nick Jakubowski


George Leger has a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, worked in private industry pioneering surface-mount technology and in government research labs for twenty years, published several papers on surface-mount technology, co-authored papers published in national symposiums on accelerator technology, was past president of SMTA and an adjunct professor at the community college level, holds a patent, and is a certified microchip design partner, serving as a consultant to many companies developing electronic circuits.

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