I get a lot of different calls as a mobile locksmith, whether for automotive, commercial or residential issues, and I try to help out with whatever I can.

There are a variety of problems that arise in all of these areas of work:

  • Having keys to only one set of locks in your business
  • Losing a set of keys to an ex boyfriend
  • Using one key to open your car door and another to start it
  • If your key that used to work your doorknob or deadbolt is working less and less well
  • If your car key won’t even fit in your car door lock any more, etc.

As car, home and business owners, knowing your options to fixing your lock and key problems is a helpful way to know how to save you money and one common solution that could save you some cash is called a rekey.

Rekeying is a method where a locksmith, or a very careful DIY’er, digs into the mechanical, inner workings of your locks and replaces certain pieces called pins (if in house or business locks) and wafers (if in automotive locks or ignitions) to get you through your doors.

Take a minute and consider each of the scenarios listed above to see how rekeying might solve the problem:

In the first two cases of having a set of keys to only some locks in a home or business and/or thieves or dangerous people getting a hold of the keys that you do have, are problems that can both be solved through rekeying. No, you don’t necessarily have to buy new locks although you may want to if that is the best option for you.

See, a lock is a simple machine of moving parts that prevents intruders from opening things they shouldn’t but lets you get in by lining up the necessary pieces. And even if you’ve lost all the keys to your home or business, a locksmith should be able to get in, replace those moving pieces and get you a key. That is rekeying.

Now the cool thing about rekeying is locksmiths could either change the insides to match your old key or completely switch out the insides and get you a whole new set, all depending on what you need. In the case of the first scenario, business owners would likely want to keep their old key otherwise they’d have to settle for two different keys to their business or rekey all their other locks to match. However, in the case of the second scenario when bad people have the keys, homeowners want to stop the old key from working so getting a new set is likely what you’d want.

In the case of the third and fifth scenario, a rekey can often be the solution to those as well. If car owners use two sets of keys or if the key won’t even go into the door lock or ignition any more, a rekey might solve the problem.

I actually experienced both of these a couple of weeks ago.

A client from Fort Bragg drove out to Laytonville because his key to his Honda Accord wasn’t fitting in his door lock any more. As it turned out, the inner workings of the lock (called wafers) were broken and I replaced them all with new parts so that his old key worked.

I also have a friend at the wrecking yard here in town who has to use two keys to his Tacoma, one to unlock the car and the second for the ignition. I was hopeful to rekey his ignition so that we could get him down to one key, however, as it turned out, his ignition was not OEM, meaning, the keys and the lock cylinders between the ignition and door locks were not interchangeable so basically, he’d have to get a new ignition for me to do the job for him. However, if you use two different keys in your vehicle and you already have the right parts, a rekey is a good option especially if you a car under twenty years old because otherwise, someone would need to swap out the ignition and likely need to program your new car key. But if you simply rekey, you would be able to keep the old ignition and there would not necessarily be a need to reprogram your chip key. However, in certain cases, an automotive locksmith will suggest a rekey and a new transponder chip key, not because they are trying to up-sell you, but because those old keys become part of the problem. But that’s another post for another time.

In the case of the fourth scenario, when keys that once worked don’t work any more, the solution may be as easy as lubing the lock, a solution you can read about here, or if that doesn’t work, then a rekey might. Remember, locks and keys are a bunch of moving parts and over time, those parts can wear out whether the pins/wafers inside the lock cylinder or whether the key itself. And if those parts wear down too much, your keys will stop working because the necessary parts aren’t lining up quite right. However, with a rekey, a locksmith can replace those pieces and make you new keys so that way everything lines up again and everything works.

So in summary, you don’t always have to get new locks to solve a problem, instead, you can change the inner workings of your old locks through rekeying. And whether your security has been compromised, you just don’t have that key or your old one stopped working, rekeying might be the solution for you.