This blog is written by A. J.Ficcardi RL CFDI, the founder of Dr Auto Lock, a company that provides professional lock service to Erie, Pa and has grown to provide the same excellent service to surrounding areas such as Sharon and Meadville Pa.along with Ashtabula County, Ohio. A. J. can be contacted at 814-572-5625 or 1-800-DRAUTOL. After servicing vehicle locks since 1981, Dr Auto Lock was formed in 1995 in response to the added electronic security components being added into Theft Deterrent auto locks and keys. G.M.started using a VATS system in the mid eighties, while Ford began using transponder keys in 1995. Today, almost every vehicle produced, incorporates a Transponder Key and Ignition Lock to prevent auto theft.
Little did I know that unlocking my car with the keys locked inside on prom night in 1971 was just the start of experiences and education that would lead to the creation of Dr Auto Lock. A summer course in auto body at Erie County Tech School along with two years of education to become an electronics technician provided the foundation.
Employment as an Engineering technologist, testing all forms of electrical, electronic, hydraulic ,pneumatic and mechanical systems added building blocks. The first company that I started, Ficcardi Automotive Specialties provided replacement and rebuilding of auto interiors, steering columns and locks for Insurance companies in the repair of stolen vehicles.
Soon, I was buying recovered stolen vehicles from Insurance companies and rebuilding them. At the same time, I bought my first set of lockout tools after seeing a set that a new car dealer had bought at a trade show. I excelled at unlocking vehicles and local police were soon requesting my services to help motorists who had locked the keys in their car.
In 1986 Ford began using actual fuel injection on their motors to pass emissions and revive performance. The injected 5.0 motor brought back performance that had been missing since 1973. This led to my specializing in Mustang 5.0 performance upgrades. I became the first DDMI/SPEARCO dealer in Pa. installing intercooled twin turbo kits on these cars increasing horsepower from 225 up to 450HP. Instead of taking a perfectly good new Mustang and modifying it, I purchased Mustangs from Insurance companies that had been stolen and recovered. Most were missing the engine and transmission so wrecked Mustangs were purchased for drivetrains and other parts.
Most of these vehicles came without keys, so I had to find a way to originate keys and replace damaged locks with ones keyed to match the other locks. I became very proficient at serving Ford locks in addition to the G. M. locks that I had serviced for years.
Locks were becoming more complex as time went on leading to the usage of electronics in the locks. Servicing many G.M. locks required removing the air bag and disassembling the steering column. Ford started using transponder keys and I saw a future in servicing these new electronic lock systems that my life experiences had made me a natural to fill this niche. Dr Auto Lock was formed and soon dominated lock service in Northwest Pa. and Northeast Ohio.