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Everything You Need to Know About Slim Jim Tools and How to Use Them

Among the rich selection of simple and advanced locksmith tools used by automotive experts who specialize in lock mechanisms, slim jims are some of the oldest and most controversial of them. While they can be effectively used by locksmiths or even skilled car owners to handle emergency lockout scenarios on the spot, they can also serve as opportunist car thieves’ main aids in their attempts to break into vehicles without a key.

We have compiled a comprehensive guide on these tools, so if you want to learn the answers to questions like ”What is a slim jim tool” and “How does a slim jim tool work”, keep reading.

What Are Slim Jim Tools For Cars?

Slim jims are long and thin lockout tools usually made of spring steel and other types of sturdy and highly flexible strips of metal with hooks at the end. Standard slim jims usually measure around 24 inches in length and anywhere between 0.79 and 1.57 inches in width. Originally, these tools were marketed under the slim jim name by HPC Inc., a company that manufactures and supplies specialty tools for the industry.

How Are Slim Jim Tools Used on Cars?

slim jim tools for car lockouts

Now that you know what a slim jim is made of, it is time to move forward and explain the purpose of these tools. Basically, slim jims are used for unlocking vehicle doors when the key is either missing or when there is no dedicated lock-picking tool available. By acting straight on the levers and the intertwined rods operating the door’s mechanism, slim jims successfully work around these complex mechanisms. The hooks that they feature at the end need to be slipped between one of the windows and the rubber seal, carefully catching the rods that are tied to the lock mechanism.

People interested to learn how to use slim jim car tools need to be ready to use a series of slow and smooth manipulation techniques that will eventually open the locked vehicle’s door on the spot. This way, any missing or broken key problem or discharged battery issue can find a quick and affordable fix until a more permanent solution is offered by our car expert locksmiths.

Effects of Improper Slim Jim Use on Cars

Slim jims are used by authorized automotive locksmiths, police officers and firemen when answering emergency calls, and even car dealerships and security personnel. Unfortunately, just like the case of many other locksmithing tools used by pro lock technicians, many opportunist thieves also make use of slim jims for their own criminal purposes. This can result in either a successful job for the said property criminals who can unlock the vehicle and steal it or steal some of its valuable contents left behind, or in the detachment of the lock rods. In turn, this will leave the lock in an inoperable state even when the correct key is used.

Car owners who notice this issue should automatically understand that someone has tried to forcefully enter their vehicle. At the same time, unskilled locksmiths or lock technicians who are inexperienced or not authorized may cause the same problems because of improper use of slim jims.

New car models usually feature specialized defense systems against the use of slim jims. These usually come in the form of barrier blocks located at the bottom of windows which work by stopping any forced entry attempts and shrouding all operating rods along with the lock cylinder. This can effectively prevent the direct manipulation of any of the internal linkages.

Moreover, some unsubstantiated claims speak about the risk of someone setting off the side airbag in modern-day vehicles when trying to use a slim jim to unlock a door, leading to potential injuries. Nonetheless, research completed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration along with data from manufacturers have shown this would be impossible.

Types of Slim Jim Tools

There are several different types slim jim tools that cater to a variety of car makes and models:

Super slim jims are made of stainless steel with rounded edges and they can withstand rust. They are suitable for cars that feature either vertical or horizontal linkages as they are both stiffer and wider compared to the original slim jim tool. They measure 1.25 inches across, 25 inches in length, and 0.032 inches in terms of thickness.

Wide slim jims are compatible with domestic as well as foreign cars. They measure one inch in width and 24.5 inches in length. When in use, they can easily reach linkages located deep-down while helping the user keep sturdier control over the tool.

Round slim jims work well on cars with exposed bell cranks. They feature flattened rods with special Xacto Grip for enhanced performance.

30-inch-extra-long slim jims are used to reach the deepest linkages when any other attempts have failed to work. They measure 0.75 inches across, 29.5 inches in length, and 0.032 inches in thickness.

Do Slim Jims Work on All Types of Vehicles?

Simply put - no. Slim jims work best on older models of cars with standard locks. Modern-day cars feature electrical wiring that will not allow slim jims to serve their purpose, usually resulting in damaged locks and the inability to enter the vehicle in case of emergency.

As previously mentioned, some vehicles have incorporated slim jim shields that stop slim jim tools from getting past them.

DIY Slim Jims: Are They Worth the Risk?

When used improperly by car owners during an accidental lockout, slim jim tools can damage airbags, fiber optic cables, electrical wiring, locking mechanisms, and even the windows during the wedging attempt. If you are not certain whether your car supports slim jims, you do not own a professional slim jim suitable for your car model, or you have used DIY instructions to make your own slim jim using a coat hanger or a metal ruler and have no idea how to use it, it is best to call an expert car locksmith to tackle a car lockout.

Final Thoughts

Slim jims can prove to be efficient lock-picking tools when used by expert locksmiths or law enforcement officers and firemen during emergencies. However, they are oftentimes not very practical to use by inexperienced car owners because of the high risk of damage. For any type of lock or key problem on any vehicle make and model, contact our mobile automotive locksmiths available 24 hours a day.