If you’re in a situation where you’re thinking of changing your car locks, you’re not alone. Maybe you’ve had a break-in and want to prevent future break-ins. Or you might have had a breakup, and you want to regain some of your mental sense of security. Then again, you might have lost your keys, or they might be broken. Whatever the reason, you need to know whether you can change your car locks. Can a locksmith rekey a door lock? Or do you need to take the car to a dealership? You can prepare yourself for the experience by knowing ahead of time how much changing car locks costs and what to expect.

Can You Change Your Car Locks

First, we’ll explain what it takes to rekey a car. Once you know how to rekey a car’s locks, you may have a good idea what you’d like to do next.

How to Rekey a Car

The first thing to know about rekeying a car is whether or not you can do it yourself at all. Rekeying a car isn’t the same as replacing the locks of the car. Replacing the locks involves removing the locking mechanism and putting in new locks. When you rekey a car, the process involves dismantling the locking mechanism and changing it to fit a different key.

So can you rekey a car yourself?

The short answer is, yes, you can rekey a car yourself. It is possible to do it. (GetJerry)

The long answer is there is a complex step-by-step process it takes to rekey your car locks. (Revolar) Learning about that process is useful. However, you are likely better off calling a professional.


car door

First, you need your tools. You will need:

  • A slotted screwdriver
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • A working key
  • And a kit designed for the specific model of car that you want to rekey

Alternatively, depending on your reason for rekeying the car, you need:

  • A new key appropriate to your car’s locks
  • A pinning kit appropriate for the brand or model of your car OR a filling kit if you don’t have a pinning kit

Right. Got your tools? Next, familiarize yourself with the components.

1. Understanding What You’re Working With

First thing to do after you get your tools together, is learn as much as you can about the locks specific to your car. Locks are complicated. That’s sort of the point. The owner’s manual for your car will have information about the locks in your car. The internet will have more information. Understand as much as possible about how your locks are supposed to work before making any attempt to dismantle them.

Because dismantle them you must.

2. Remove the Lock from the Door

You will need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for removing your car’s door locks. The most straightforward approach looks a little like this:

  • Open the door you want to remove the locks from.
  • Make sure that the car’s window is shut, then take out the mechanism for controlling the opening and shutting of the window. This step used to be easier when windows were controlled by a crank. Now there are wires and other electrical components to be careful of while removing parts.
  • Take out the screw that holds the door handle in place.
  • Disassemble the cluster panel from the door.
  • At this point, it should be possible to access the lock cylinder. Detach the lock cylinder from the door with the needlenose pliers.

Easy, right?

Now for the complicated part.

3. Disassemble the Lock Cylinder

We’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: locks are complicated. They’re complicated on purpose. Be careful when you disassemble the locking cylinder.

The steps to do it look a little like this:

  • With your slotted screwdriver, pry out the C clip from the end of the lock cylinder.
  • Remove the lock’s cap.
  • Remove the hooked spring from the lock cylinder.
  • Use your key to pull the tumblers out of the cylinder.
  • Then remove the key from the cylinder in order to see the locking pins.
  • With your needle-nosed pliers, remove the locking pins and hooked spring.

Every single one of these pieces is small and essential. Make sure to put them somewhere safe.

4. Placing New Pins

This is the stage where you’re actually rekeying the car’s lock. The pins are the feature of the lock that makes it unique, and therefore secure. You will need a repinning kit with replacement pins.

Start with the furthest back pin.

Use your needle-nosed pliers to put the new pins in, one at a time.

As you place each pin, put the spring back into the locking cylinder as deep as each new pin. Make sure that the pins click into place before attempting to push the spring in further and inserting the next pin.

Test it with your new key. A pin that is flusk with the locking mechanism indicates proper installation.

Once all the pins have been inserted, they have clicked into place around the spring, and the key can slide in and out of the lock smoothly, you can now reassemble the locking cylinder.

5. Reassemble the Car Door

Assuming that your rekeying went smoothly, you can reassemble your car’s door. First, put the locking cylinder back in place, then reassemble the rest of the door.

Test the new key in the lock. If the door locks and unlocks smoothly, then you have successfully changed your car locks! Well done.

If that all sounds like a lot of trouble, then it probably makes sense to get a locksmith to handle the rekeying for you.

6. Costs of Changing Car Locks

When it comes to changing car locks, costs can vary. It will depend on the locking system in your car. The basic rule of thumb is more high tech costs more. A basic lock without any automation can cost as little as fifteen dollars, if you do it yourself. Or a locksmith might charge as little as seventy-five dollars. Be advised, that when it comes to changing locks, the cheapest option isn’t always the best. You might be spending less money, but you might be getting cheaper materials or shoddy workmanship. (HomeGuide)

Consider the cost of your own time into your calculations as well. A good locksmith might cost more than the tools and parts to rekey your car yourself. But a locksmith will also take less time to do it than you. At the same time, they will more likely guarantee a high-quality job.

At Crown Locksmith, we’re proud of our 4.8 star customer satisfaction rating. We’re a reputable Atlanta locksmith. We are highly-experienced mobile locksmiths who are always happy to answer any questions you have about rekeying your car. Contact us to have your car rekeyed or to replace your transponder keys right away.

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