Locked the keys in your pickup, far from home? Cowboys ain't supposed to cry, so make a simple tool on the spot from found materials that will let you in quickly and without damaging the vehicle, so long as the truck has a sliding rear window. I carry a more deluxe version of the tool in my truck and have used it to help other drivers in this predicament. Once you see how easy it is to break in, you might want to fix your window so no one with bad intentions can unlatch it, then hide a spare key to use if you ever lock yourself out. First photo is an interior view, with the window slightly open, of the kind of latch that can be opened with this tool, working from outside the locked truck. Second photo shows the boss on the interior window frame that the latch grabs to lock. To see my related Instructables, click on "unclesam" just below the title above or in the INFO box to the right. On the new page that appears, repeatedly click "NEXT" to see all of them.
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Step 1: Tools, Materials, Construction
The tool and a piece of folded heavy paper, the weight of a playing card, that helps prevent damage to the sliding window's weather seals. The solid-state linear computer provides a 12-inch comparison scale.
Tools and materials (deluxe version):
Wire, 8 1/2 inches long, from ordinary heavy-duty coat hanger
Pliers with wire cutter
Card stock, such as the cover of a school spiral notebook
Cut a paper strip 6 inches long by one inch wide, fold it in half lengthwise
Bend the wire to create two legs 3 1/2 inches long each connected by a length of wire 1 1/2 inches long, all falling in the same plane. File the wire ends round and smooth, and remove all burrs. Bend the end of one leg up out of the plane as shown in the photo, make a small loop in that end.
Step 2: The Objective
The latch looks like half of a spring alligator clip. The driver can reach back without looking, push on the tail of the alligator, which causes the mouth to open away from a boss on the window frame, then slide the window open. The boss prevents the latch from being opened from the outside by simply sliding something like a credit card in between the glass and its weather seal.
You want to insert the tool through the weather seal without damaging it then use the wire to push open the alligator latch's mouth enough to clear the boss. This photo, taken from outside, with the window open a little for clarity, shows what must be done, but done while the window is closed and latched.
Step 3: Paper Strip Protects Weather Seal
Push the fold of the paper strip in, between the sliding glass and its weather seal, several inches above the latch. Push the end of the wire that does not have the loop in between the two sides of cardboard, maneuver the wire end downward and farther in, then slip out the cardboard. Second photo, exterior, shows wire tip being started in, third is an interior view.
Step 4: Put Your Tool in the Alligator's Mouth
Wiggle and slide the wire into position as shown, with the end of the wire tip down into the alligator's mouth. Rotate the loop end of the wire outward in order to push open the alligator's mouth slightly, then slide the window open. Exterior view of the wire in place and three interior views.
Step 5: Prevent Break-in
You can prevent someone from opening your truck's sliding rear window with this tool by putting a wedge under the alligator latch's tail. A clothes pin illustrates, but I whittled a piece of scrap black plastic that does the trick and does not intrude into my rear view. I can feel it well enough from the driver's seat to remove it without looking back then open the latch and slide the window. I let the wedge dangle from the latch by a short string whenever the window is open, because the latch could be damaged if the window is slid shut with the wedge in place.
Step 6: Wedge the Latch, Hide a Key
If you wedge the latch on your sliding rear window to prevent someone from breaking in through it, you might want to hide a spare key in a magnetic box attached somewhere underneath your truck. Key and box are both available at auto parts stores and Wal-Mart. Once the box gets some road dust on it, it will be virtually impossible for someone else to spot. You simply need to remember that you have a spare key and where the magnetic box is located.