In some circumstances, rekeying your car is a valuable choice. Rekeying is the process of changing some of the internal mechanisms of the locks and ignition of your car. Rekeying can be faster and cheaper than replacing the entire locks in the doors and the whole ignition switch. The kinds of events that might make rekeying a good idea can include a recent break-in, the loss of keys, or a recent breakup or divorce.

Cheapest Way to Rekey a Car

The very cheapest way to rekey a car would be to do it yourself. It is possible to rekey a car yourself, though it requires some specialty equipment and some training.

The process of rekeying a car is, briefly:

  • Dismantling the locks and the ignition.
  • Rearranging some of the internal components.
  • Then putting the locks and ignition back together.

While possible, this process comes with its own complexity. For example, with a car, it will be important to make the same changes to all locks and to the ignition switch of the vehicle. Once you do, then it becomes necessary to have a key made that fits the changes to the locks.

However, it’s recommended that you don’t try to DIY this because then you run the risk of needing to replace the locks altogether.

The next cheapest way to rekey a car is to hire a qualified locksmith. Because it means avoiding the cost of new parts, rekeying a car can be less expensive than buying new locks, since it only means paying for labor. A qualified locksmith will have all the necessary tools to do the job quickly and accurately.

How to Rekey a Car

colorful keys

Whether you decide to do it yourself or you decide to hire a locksmith to rekey your car, the steps will be the same. It’s useful to know the process even if you hire a locksmith.

  1. Extract lock and tumbler
    1. Separate door locks and remove ignition column. Take out tumbler section. At this point you can look at the tumblers and their positions and see the current positions of the locks and ignition. Make changes to the tumbler positions.
  2. Mark key blank for cutting
    1. You’ll need a blank key at this point. It will need to be the appropriate kind to match the make and model of your car. Mark the position of the tumblers on the blank key.
  3. Cut your new key
    1. Using a good Dremel device, cut grooves in the key that correspond to the marks matching the rearranged tumblers. A set of jeweler’s tools will have fine enough files to ensure the precise shapes you need. Check the fit of the key in the lock regularly to make sure you’re cutting to the correct shapes.
  4. Test
    1. Test and retest the fit of your key. Keep trying the new key in the rekeyed locks and ignition for fit. If the key catches at all in the locks and ignition then you will need to make small changes to the key until it turns with a smooth action.
  5. Finish
    1. When you’ve made enough fine changes to your new key it will turn with a smooth action and easily lock and unlock the doors and turn the ignition switch of your car.

This is the basic process of rekeying a car. A locksmith will go through a similar procedure, although a locksmith will have slightly more bespoke tools and will know some tricks of the trade that make the process look simpler. In fact, rekeying a car’s locks and ignition will always be a finicky process that requires specialty tools, and calling a locksmith can save you time and money.

Can You Rekey a Car Ignition?

car interior with keys in ignition - cheapest way to rekey a car

It is as possible to rekey a car’s ignition as it is to rekey a car’s locks. The process is, by and large, similar in its goals and tools. When shopping for a locksmith to do the rekeying of a car, it’s important to be careful which locksmiths you decide to hire.

There are two ways of rekeying the tumblers in a lock.

In the first method, the locksmith will remove a few wafers, which are part of the tumblers in the lock. Then they will replace those wafers with different wafers, and they will rearrange other wafers. This is a common method of rekeying a lock, and it is not as effective. This method of rekeying an ignition can be less secure because it leaves fewer wafers in the car’s ignition. It makes it harder to get replacement keys in the future as well.

On the other hand, reputable locksmiths, like Crown Locksmith, are prepared to rekey car ignitions. Some locksmiths work with specialized tools including new wafers, springs, face caps, and all the other parts necessary to rekey a car’s ignition system without any loss of security. This is why it’s important to hire a quality automotive locksmith.

Reasons to Rekey Your Car

Rekeying your car is a good option if you lose your keys or if you are having trouble with your locks and ignition. It’s also possible that your key is simply worn through long usage and you might just need to get new keys. In other cases, it can be a less expensive option to rekey your car locks and ignition instead of replacing the locks and the ignition switch.


Please reach out to us with any questions and our mobile locksmith will be happy to assist you!  


Crown Locksmith is a reputable Atlanta locksmith with a 4.8 star rating. Contact us to have your car rekeyed the right way. We also make transponder keys.


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