Car lock repair

For many key and lock problems you may face with your car, the solution is often the keys themselves. Sometimes, however, the problem is that the lock is damaged or broken and is in need of repair or replacement. At the end of the day, either of these problems can be frustrating to deal with, especially if you’ve got places to go and people to see.

Fortunately, there are auto locksmiths near you that can help get you out of a bind with dependable, speedy, and affordable lock repair services and much more.

Why locks on cars break

Most car lock issues appear to be (and sometimes are) the same as you’d expect for your keys. Namely, your car locks may be in need of repair if the key won’t turn properly, the ignition won’t start, the lock is frozen or jammed tight, or the door or trunk won’t fully close or won’t lock properly.

Some of the most common reasons why locks malfunction on cars, trucks, vans and SUVs include:

  • The lock has been damaged, and the key no longer fits or turns
  • The lock has jammed or is stuck
  • The central locking system has stopped working
  • The door latch has broken
  • The key is stuck in the lock
  • The electronics for the central locking mechanism have malfunctioned
  • The locks may have rusted or suffered weather damage (particularly in older vehicles)

Whatever the problem may be, it can sometimes be hard to tell if the problem is the lock itself or perhaps it’s just your key. In order to properly resolve the problem, skilled car locksmiths can diagnose the problem and provide you with cost-efficient solutions to ensure that you’re able to get into your vehicle and get it started.

Car lock repair

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Techniques for repairing car locks

There are many possible ways to repair a car lock, especially considering that there are many different types of lock used on a vehicle as well as many manufacturers of car door, trunk, and ignition locks. Some of the most common manufacturers of car locks and key products include Strattec, Kaba Ilco and ACDelco (a major supplier for GM), whereas LatchWell is a major supplier of door handles and tailgate handles.

The general methods of repairing most traditional locks - whereby there is a physical key and lock - are roughly the same. Depending on the nature of the problem, the locksmith will either lubricate the lock, repair or replace the ignition switch (for ignition cylinders), remove debris obstructing the lock’s pins and tumblers, reprogram your vehicle’s transponder key and immobilizer, or outright replace the lock cylinder altogether.

Repairing vs replacing car locks

Although many car lock problems can be solved via repairing the lock mechanism, e.g. removing broken or snapped key pieces from the lock, removing debris or obstructions, lubricating the lock cylinder, and so on, there are some cases whereby the lock must be completely replaced.

For example, if your car door lock has completely rusted or if the lock was damaged in a burglary or car theft, a car locksmith will most likely recommend that the lock be completely disassembled and replaced with a new lock. In order for the lock to be compatible with your key, however, you may need to get new car keys cut and programmed. This is almost always the case for transponder keys and ignition cylinder locks.

How an automotive locksmith repairs car locks

Most automotive locksmiths have the experience, skills, and equipment needed to repair locks for most vehicle makes and models. The first thing that a reputable automotive locksmith will typically do is diagnose the problem. Naturally, they need to know which lock was affected and to take note of any obvious signs of damage, such as a broken or snapped key inside the lock or a broken door handle/latch.

Once the locksmith has inspected the lock, they may then need to lubricate the lock or to disassemble it completely. Doing so for a door or trunk lock requires some manual labor, while doing it for the ignition cylinder normally requires dismounting the ignition cylinder from the steering column completely.

Upon disassembly, the locksmith may then either repair the lock using the best tools and equipment they have on hand, or they may be unable to repair it and will instead recommend a complete replacement of the lock.

Lock repairs are generally more affordable and less time-consuming than lock replacement, so a trustworthy car locksmith near you will often try to repair before recommending a replacement, and only if it is absolutely necessary.

How much it costs to repair locks on your car

You may be wondering how much it costs to repair locks on your car, and as you might have expected the answer is a big “it depends.” Broadly speaking, the cost of repairing a door lock can range from around $75 to $220, but there are many factors that can drive the price up or down.

Some of the most relevant factors that can affect the price include the complexity of labor, whether the lock can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced, the make and model of your vehicle, whether the lock needs to be compatible with a transponder key, and the type of lock that has been affected.

Since the price can vary so much, it is strongly recommended that you request a quote from a car locksmith near you before doing business with them. To ensure that your quote is as accurate and fair as possible, please try to explain to the locksmith the nature of the problem and provide them with the make and model of your vehicle.

Tips to maintain your car locks

In order to avoid having to call an automotive locksmith to repair your locks and to avoid having problems with your locks in the future, it’s important to apply a little preventative maintenance. A little elbow grease - or in this case, a good lubricant - can go a long way to keeping your car locks working smoothly and to avoid any mechanical problems or to avoid having your key snapping or breaking inside of the mechanism.

On the matter of keys, it may be wise to have your keys duplicated and create a spare set of keys. Old and worn out keys are more prone to breaking and can cause unwanted friction and abrasion within the lock mechanism. This is particularly common on ignition cylinder locks and a big problem that many of our automotive locksmith partners have noticed stems from drivers using heavy, oversized novelty keychains for their keys while in the ignition.

Frequently asked questions about car lock repair

How do I know if my car lock needs repair?

Your car lock may be in need of repair if you’re noticing that it’s a lot harder to turn the key, if the key doesn’t come out easily (or at all), or if the lock is visibly damaged or rusted. If your lock is damaged, it may need to be repaired or replaced, depending on the severity of the damage.

Can I repair my car lock myself?

It is generally not recommended that you try to repair your car lock yourself, especially if it’s an ignition cylinder lock which may need to be programmed to be compatible with your transponder key. Even door locks, locks on your trunk or for your glove compartment can be repaired with ease from a qualified and experienced car locksmith near you.

How much does it cost to repair a car lock?

The average cost of repairing a car lock can be anywhere from around $75 to $225. The cost of repairing a car lock can vary depending on which lock needs to be repaired, the make and model of the vehicle and what type of locks it has, whether the lock needs to be replaced, and whether or not a duplicate transponder key needs to be programmed.

Can a locksmith repair any type of car lock?

Generally, most experienced car locksmiths in the United States are able to repair locks on most vehicle makes and models. Some rare car models may have proprietary locking mechanisms that can pose a challenge to a locksmith, however. If the lock is severely damaged or if repairs are not feasible, the locksmith may instead recommend a complete replacement of the lock assembly.

What should I do if my key gets stuck in the lock?

If your car key is stuck in the lock, the most important thing to do right there in the moment is to leave it alone. Don’t fidget with the key and don’t try to force the key to turn. Instead, contact a local car locksmith to have the key extracted and to perform repairs on the lock, if needed.

How long does it take to repair a car lock?

The time it takes for an experienced car locksmith to repair a car lock can vary by a wide margin. Simple repairs such as applying lubricant to the lock, adjusting one of the lock’s tumblers, or extracting a snapped key piece might only take a couple of minutes. More complex repairs that involve disassembly and perhaps replacement of the lock assembly may require a couple of hours or longer.


Auto locksmith near you

Car door lock repair near you

Are your car door locks in tip-top shape, or are they in need of repair? For high quality car lock repair for your doors, trunk, glove box, and ignition, it’s best to leave the job to a qualified professional. The Auto Locksmiths network covers towns and cities across the United States with dependable, competitively priced automotive locksmithing services from genuine and trustworthy car locksmiths near you.