There is nothing worse than realizing that you have just lost your car keys. Your mind goes blank, trying to remember where you last placed them or saw them. Who do you call?

Due to advanced electronic theft deterrent systems in most all modern vehicle keys, you have fewer choices. A spare key at home is the best solution, but that is not always available. You must now find a professional automotive locksmith who can service your car or have it towed to the new car dealer. The dealer may have to order a key from the factory and schedule your car in for service, meaning that you will be without your vehicle for days or weeks. Your car may also be damaged by the process of towing it. Many vehicles over 10 years old can not be serviced by the dealer as codes are no longer available as well as the programming tool being obsolete.

A professional automotive locksmith such as Dr Auto Lock can go to your car and originate a new key as well as programming the key to the car. If you have a German vehicle, you are stuck going to the dealer and ordering a key from the factory. The Germans are still fighting the war, refusing to realize that they lost. We can service some early VW and Audi cars up to 2005. Some recent model cars may also require dealer service as the programming software for our tools has not yet been released.

Beware of very low production vehicles like Jaguar and others. These vehicles are so rare that most locksmiths cannot justify the cost of equipment to service these vehicles. All GM, Ford, Chrysler and almost all Asian makes can easily be serviced. Hyundai and Kia have been changing the type of keys they use so often that they have created a nightmare for the owners of these vehicles. Ford and Chrysler have both used the same key design for quite some time ensuring easy serviceability. GM has made their key systems very serviceable as well.

Calling a locksmith at night, on a weekend or holiday is going to be more expensive than during a weekday. Just because someone offers 24 hour emergency service does not mean that you will not pay a premium for that service. When you are in a rural or sparsely populated area, you may have to contact a locksmith from a distant city. The equipment to service modern vehicles is extremely expensive and cannot be justified by small town locksmiths.

The best policy is to demand two or more sets of keys when you buy your car. Also demand that the new car dealer supply you the key code and pin code for your vehicle and keep these codes in a safe but accessible location. Just think of being on vacation, 800 miles away from home, and you lose the keys to a Mercedes or BMW. You are SOL and will be with out your car for quite some time. It will be the vacation from Hell.


NEW STYLE MILLED KEYS THAT REQUIRE SPECIALIZED EQUIPMENT TO CUT                                                             

You may have noticed that keys to newer vehicles can no longer be made at hardware stores and some cannot even be made at the new car dealer level. The newer keys are milled with an end mill instead of being cut with a traditional cutting wheel machine. Manual duplicators do exist, but they do not produce the same quality key as the computerized machines. At Dr Auto Lock, we cut these keys for most of the new car dealers. They do not want to invest in an extremely expensive machine with good reason.

These new key machines are extremely expensive as they are miniature CNC machines. Manual duplicators exist, but the quality of the key that they producethproduce is


photo1MA31189447-0001Did you notice that this picture shows a house key stuck into a Ford ignition lock? When this happens never try to pull on the key with any level of force. It will break off creating a worse situation and possibly damage the lock, necessitating replacement. Puting the wrong key into a lock happens quite frequently. If you call a professional locksmith immediately the key may be extracted without damage. If the wrong key was forced into the lock with extreme force, the lock may have to be replaced. The lock in the picture had the key extracted by a professional and the lock was not damaged.

Many times the correct key is broken off in the lock. If the key is sticking out of the lock, you may use pliers or forceps to pull it out. Never push the key in further. If the broken piece is not sticking out of the lock, do yourself a favor and call a professional locksmith to extract it. Sticking tools into a lock can cause damage and in most cases where someone who did not know what they were doing tried to extract the key, the lock was damaged and needed repair.

Never and I repeat never use superglue or some other adhesive to try to remove the key. I am amazed by the amount of people who try this. It always destroys the lock. Key extraction requires special tools and a very good knowledge of lock design.

Ignition lock failures and proper repair methods.

Dr Auto Lock Serving Erie, Mercer, Crawford and Ashtabula Counties



Modern ignition locks have become more complex and this has led to increased failure occurrences. Ford Focus’s, Honda’s, Toyota’s, Chrysler and GM locks may experience failures due to many causes such as wear, poor design and small amounts of foreign debris being inadvertently inserted into the lock. Most failures result in the lock failing to operate with the proper key and require replacement or rebuilding.

Maintaining the use of the original key is extremely important. Most vehicles are now designed to use the same key for the ignition lock as well as other locks such as the trunk. When all keys are lost, a professional can obtain the original key code or use a door or trunk lock to generate a key. When locks using different keys are used to replace an existing ignition lock, a real problem is created, requiring the replacement of the…

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A lock fails, you are locked out or have lost your keys. You go into panic mode and search for help. Years ago a phonebook was used primarily to find a locksmith. Today almost everyone is using their smartphone to search for help. What used to be an actual search engine has turned into a jungle no different than walking through a seedy section of town after dark, carrying a wad of money in your hand. Scam Artists from foriegn countries, mostly Isreal, are posing as a local locksmith company.

They lure you in with a cheap price in the ad or all kinds of claims for discounts. In reality, they will only damage your locks and charge you an excessive amount. Many unsuspecting consumers have been charge thoushands of dollars for a service that should have only been close to one huundred dollars. Yes the ad said $15 lockout service, but that was only for the service call.

Reputable locksmiths will qoute you the total price after asking numerous questions. Ask for the total and the worst case scenario price and let them know that you are holding them to this.  These scammers send out undocumented Foriegn workers, who they know will appear as middle east terrorists. These workers are from isreal and most have come here after serving in the military. They will threaten you with bodily harm if you do not pay them. The number you called  has connected you to some far away place where the mastermind has call takers who sound just like you or me. Demand to talk to the locksmith who is coming out, before he comes and again go over the price. I am sure that there are legitimate locksmiths who have legaly immigrated here from the middle east and provide excellent service, but be very cautios when dealing with someone who sounds like something may no be proper.

I require my locksmiths to call the customer before they head out and they are required to qoute the price again. This protects both my company and the customer. Many customers have a hard time understanding why I will not send someone out unless they can call the customer and talk to them first.

The Scammers usually use generic names like Always in Service or All Hours. They also frequently use numerous city names with the word locksmith like Erie Locksmith. There are legitimate locksmiths who do name their business after the town they are in, so do not rule out one of these. If you see a whole list towns with locksmith after the city name on a search engine you have probably found a scammer.

If the locksmith shows up with a large prybar, drill or a pipewrench be cautious. Almost all locks can be opened without destroying the lock, unless the lock has failed. Some locks that have not been used for quite some time or ones full of dirt may also require drilling.

Most search engines have now turned into paid advertising sites. The ads are very expensive and cost $60 and up per click, making them unaffordable for legitimate locksmiths. If someone has to pay $60+ for everyone that clicks on their ad, they are going to have to charge you a very high price.

You can also look for a trademarked name like POPaLock or Dr Auto Lock, but you should not rule out not so well-known names. The safest bet is to use a phone book or a referral from someone you know.


When going on vacation or on a trip, many people have someone check on their house and take care of their pets. You will never believe how many of these caretakers end up locking themselves out of the house that they are taking care of. I receive a large amount of business from this. The house sitters or pet sitters are not familiar with your locks. Leave an extra key with someone you trust other than the sitter. You will thank me for this tip.

Deadly Double Sided Deadbolts

Never use a deadbolt that is operated by a key on both sides of the lock, commonly refered to as a double-sided deadbolt. These locks should be prohibited by law. I always ask customers who request them, “What is more valuable, your television or your life?”. In the case of a fire, these locks can lead to your death. One manufacturer does make such a lock that uses a key on the inside with a knob on the key. This lock also retains the inside key unless you use a key from the outside. The theory behind this is logical, but if anyone uses another point of entry and forgets to put the key back in, an extreme risk has been created.


Most customers who end up locked out of their house, could prevent this from happening. The leading cause is having both a deadbolt and key operated knob on the same door. The door knob lock is bumped on the way out and you have a problem. The actual security device is the deadbolt. Having a key operated lock on the same door is an accident waiting to happen. You can only lock a deadbolt from outside with the key.

The cheapest solution is to change the knob to one that does not lock, known as a passage lock. Hiding a spare key in your car or near your house is also an alterative. Please be creative if you are hiding a key. Thieves know to look under the doormat or in your mailbox. Duplicate keys are far less expensive than calling a locksmith.

Never use a lock that mounts on the inside of the door looking like a box that performs a similar function as a deadbolt but have a sprig loaded latch. Most of these locks have a button on the lock as well as the knob to turn the lock. when the button is accidentally bumped, the lock cannot be opened with a key. Many times I find this type of lock on apartments that have no other means of entrance. Being locked out with one of these locks will be very expensive, as only destructive methods can be used to gain entry. Always buy a high quality deadbolt such as a Schlage or Kwikset. We receive numerous calls from people locked in thier apartment when a cheap deadbolt fails in the locked position.

When your ignition lock won’t turn.

You have inserted your ignition key into the lock, but it will not turn. Before you call a Professional Automotive Locksmith, there are several things to try. First make sure that it is not a locked steering wheel by turning the wheel from side to side while trying to gently turn the key. It may help to have someone else rock the steering wheel back and forth from left to right while you try to operate the lock.

If that does not work, insert some good solid silicone lubricant into the lock. WD40 will work in an emergency, but it has a solvent base and will dry the lock out after time. Do not use graphite unless you never wear clean clothes or keep your hands clean. I call graphite the black plague. After applying a generous amount of lubricant, insert the key and tap on it gently with the handle of a screwdriver. Caution must be used, especially if your key has a remote integrated into the head of it or a transponder inside.

If it is extremely cold, try blowing hot air into the lock with a hair dryer. You can also heat the tip of key with a lighter but be very careful not to touch the metal that you have just heated.

If none of the above works, it is time to call a professional automotive locksmith. If one is not available, you can have the car towed to a dealer or repair shop. If your car is a Ford, particularly a Focus, the lock has probably failed and needs replaced with one that will operate with your original key. If your vehicle was produced by Chrysler it may be possible to clean it after disassembling the lock, but I have found that this is a short-term cure and the problem will happen again. Replacement with a new lock is the proper solution. If you have a G.M.vehicle it may be possible to clean it out by flushing with a good cleaner, but replacement may be required if that does not work. Again, never replace a lock with one that does not operate with the original key. Most cars have transponders in the head of the key and reprogramming will be required. Your vehicle was designed to operate with only one key and that system should be maintained. Demand that your mechanic obtain a lock from a professional automotive locksmith or a new car dealer.

If you own a foreign vehicle produced by an Asian company like Honda or Toyota, demand that your lock be rebuilt by a professional automotive locksmith. Even if the lock must be replaced due to damage, demand that a professional automotive locksmith rekey the new lock to operate with the original lock.

Aftermarket locks sold by auto parts stores are generally not rekeyable nor of the same quality as the OEM lock. Sometimes they will carry locks produced by a OEM manufacturer, but they will need to be rekeyed. Dr Auto Lock only uses locks that are manufactured by the OEM supplier. Demand only the best parts be used in the repair of your vehicle. Inferior locks cost more in the long run and that is a fact.