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.
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.
Numerous people lose their car keys, get locked out of their car or have an automotive lock fail every day. Choosing or knowing who to call can be an educational, costly and stressful situation. Starting in the mid eighties, vehicle locks and keys became more complex supposedly to prevent theft. Using a slim jim to open a locked car, which unlocked most cars prior to this time, now only caused costly damage and frustration. With each passing year auto engineers designed more secure locks, creating a need for new opening methods and service personnel with a high degree of expertise.
Many vehicles were damaged by unskilled individuals attempting to unlock vehicles. New tools and instructional manuals were introduced on a yearly basis, which only prompted the vehicle manufacturers to make more secure designs. Today, many foreign vehicles are virtually impossible to open without damaging the vehicle. This is not the case with all of them, but most German vehicles along with certain Honda and Toyota vehicles can only be opened without damage by the most skilled technicians.
At the same time, vehicle keys that were originally very simple designs much like your house key became more complex and had electronics added to them. Existing key cutting equipment became obsolete, requiring very costly CNC milling machines to cut the keys. Electronic programming tools, easily costing close to 10K are now required to enable the key to communicate with the vehicles computer in order for the vehicle to start.
When keys are lost or the vehicle is locked with the keys inside, options have become very limited. Some vehicles can be opened by using a long metal rod inserted between the door frame and car body, but extreme caution must be taken as thousands of dollars in damage could result. The two damage free solutions are calling a professional automotive locksmith or having the car towed to the new car dealer. When choosing a locksmith, you must choose one who specializes in vehicles and guarantees his work to be damage free. Towing the car to the dealer carries the risk of having the vehicle damaged from towing it. the vehicle can be cosmeticaly damaged as well as having the transmission or suspension damaged. Only the most professional towing services should be hired and they need to guarantee the service is damage free.
When deciding which way to solve the dilemma of having your keys locked inside or losing your keys, several factors must be considered. Most German vehicles must be taken to the dealer as the Germans apparently do not understand that people can easily lose keys. They have made key generation and programming almost impossible and excessively expensive if the equipment is available to program the keys. Some require removing the computer from the vehicle and disassembling it so that chips can be unsoldered and read.
Ford, G.M., Chrysler, Honda, Nissan and newer Toyota vehicles can easily have keys originated and programmed as long as the programming update is available for current model year vehicles. Many of the newer milled keys for vehicles cannot be made at the dealer level. the equipment to generate these keys is extremely expensive and few franchised dealers outside of extremely large ones in major metropolitan areas desire to spend 10k on a key machine. These dealers must order the keys from the factory or have someone like myself make one.
I encounter quite a few customers who call a dealer and ask what a key costs. They are quoted the price of the key blank and want to use that to compare prices. They are not considering the cost to tow the vehicle to dealer or costs for damage from towing it. They also do not realize that in addition to the cost of the key, they will be charged for obtaining the key code as well as programming the key.
When all costs are factored in, it is almost the same price or less to have a professional automotive locksmith come to the vehicle and originate and program the key. If you are in a very remote location, the cost of a locksmith traveling to your car will be higher. Calling them out at night, on weekends or holidays also costs more. Just because service is available 24 hours a day does not mean that the price is the same on a Tuesday morning as opposed to the 4th of July.
While taking your vehicle to a dealer may be the only option, be prepared for the process taking several days. You are not the only person needing service, and in the case of German vehicles and others, keys may have to be shipped from the factory. Speed of service may be a very good reason to call a professional automotive locksmith.
I use the term professional automotive locksmith frequently, because it really does matter. I have had countless customers call me after they first called someone else who spent days, yes days and sometimes weeks trying to make a key or replace a lock. If the price seems very cheap, it probably reflects the skill level and quality of service you are going to receive. Professional automotive locksmiths generally belong to NASTF, National Auto Service Task Force, and ALOA, Associated Locksmith of America. Look closely at how professional the locksmith appears, if he looks like someone who’s last occupation was in a jail or a circus beware.
There are some very professional towing operations available to tow your car or open it, but you must be careful to choose the right one. Towing services and locksmiths associated with AAA must pass criminal background checks and meet other professional requirements, so that can be a good reference even if you are not a member. Call AAA and ask them for a referral, and while talking to them, you might want to purchase a membership. They are the emergency auto club service that sets the bar for excellence. As with any service provider, expect delays during storms, as everyone else is also experiencing the same need for service that you are.
The best advice is to never travel with just one set of keys, and keep the spare set in your pocket, not in the car, and never in the trunk.
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 lock when keys are lost. Locks that have failed should only be repaired by a professional automotive locksmith or a new car dealer that has the ability to code the new lock properly to match the original key. Many Asian auto makers only supply replacement locks that do not match the original keys. In this case it is very important to require the service provider have the new lock rekeyed to match the original key, by a competant automotive locksmith.
Most Honda, Toyota and other Asian vehicles are simpler to rebuild than replace do to the fact that easily rekeyed replacement locks are not available. Most Toyota failures occur from their use of split wafers, which I recommend be removed. Honda locks using a milled key instead of the older keys that can be cut on the same type of machine that cuts and duplicates common keys such as your house key, have split wafers that have been designed with a very fragile tip that is actuated by the key. These small tips, about the size of a large pin head can easily be broken off or deformed by a worn key or by forcing a key into a unlubricated lock.
Chrysler, Ford and G.M. locks that we use are produced by the same company that supplies the original manufacturer and we purchased them unkeyed so they can be matched to the original keys. Ford Focus locks had a severe design flaw and we replace those with a new lock utilizing a far stronger and reliable design. The same is true of some G.M. locks that were originally supplied by German or Asian companies, and they are replaced by an improved design lock.
Never use a replacement lock from an auto parts store. Only purchase a replacement lock from a professional automotive locksmith or new car dealer that can key the new lock to match the original key. I have encountered numerous aftermarket locks that have failed or the keys have been lost. Most of these locks are very inferior in material, design and security.
It is very important to use a professional automotive locksmith or new car dealer parts when replacing a lock. Not all locksmiths are competent to service vehicle locks. Vehicle locks and keys comprise the most complex devices that locksmiths service. Most commercial and residential locks are fairly easy to service but automotive lock servicing requires a very high knowledge of auto body service as well as steering column and interior panel removal. I have seen thousands of dollars in damage done by unskilled locksmiths and service techs that lacked the proper knowledge to service the locks.