Having your keys locked inside your car or losing them completely can be an incredibly frustrating situation. Suddenly, you’re unable to access your own vehicle, making even small tasks like grabbing something from inside or going somewhere incredibly difficult.
When this happens, calling an Auto locksmith is often the best and fastest solution. But how exactly do they manage to get into your locked car and make you a new key? What methods and tools do they use?
In this article, we’ll provide an in-depth look at how auto locksmiths are able to unlock car doors and start ignitions without keys, as well as how they can make replacement keys right on the spot. Read on to have all your questions answered!
Methods for Unlocking Car Doors
There are a few different methods locksmiths can use to gain entry into your locked vehicle, depending on the make and model.
A simple unlocking device called a Slim Jim has been around for decades and is still commonly used by auto locksmiths today. It’s a long, flat, metal tool that can slide down between the window glass and car door frame to manipulate the locking mechanism’s linkages.
It takes some skill, finesse, and experience to use properly, but in the right hands, a Slim Jim can typically unlock a vehicle door fairly quickly without damaging anything. Locksmiths usually start by trying this method since it’s fast, affordable, and effective on most older car models.
Wedge and Inflate Air Bag
For more modern keyless entry vehicles, locksmiths may use an inflatable airbag or wedge. They insert a wedge into the top corner gap of the car door, creating space to fit in the thin, inflatable airbag and pump it up.
This puts pressure on the door frame and pops open the bottom corner, creating enough space to insert unlocking tools and manipulate the locking mechanism to open the door. It avoids damaging paint or glass.
Unlock Tool and Rod
Other more advanced unlocking tools auto locksmiths commonly use are metal rods with angled tips. By inserting them through the wedge air gap, they can hook and manipulate the locking knobs or handles to unlock doors.
It takes specialized knowledge of a car’s make and model door locking assembly to execute properly. But in experienced hands, these unlock tools provide affordable and quick access without damage, especially on newer vehicles.
Methods for Retrieving Broken Key Fragments from Ignitions
Snapped-off key parts stuck in ignitions are also very common issues locksmiths are faced with. Standard extraction methods they may use include:
Standard manual lockpicking can sometimes retrieve key fragments if the ignition components aren’t too badly damaged. Fine-tipped pick tools can carefully shift tumblers and mechanism parts allowing safe fragment removal. This is done by expert locksmiths with advanced skills.
Many locksmiths have special drill bit kits made to grab and extract broken key pieces without damaging the ignition too greatly. Some drill into the key fragment to loosen it before extracting, while others slip around it and pull outward to remove it.
Code Cutting Keys
The methods above cover getting into locked cars and retrieving busted keys. But equally important for drivers is ending up with fully functioning replacement car keys. This usually involves detailed cutting and coding of new keys.
Most modern cars use chip keys with built-in transponder security. So even after expertly cutting a replacement physical key, auto locksmiths still need to sync and match it electronically by reprogramming.
They often do this right on-site by linking specially equipped professional key programming devices directly to your vehicle’s Engine Control Unit. This allows syncing the hardware ID code of the fresh-cut key to start the ignition.
Making Spare Keys
Auto locksmiths can also make you extra spare keys for convenience and emergencies. They efficiently cut and program completely new blanks to precisely match your existing keys. You end up with fully functional duplicates to ensure you never end up stranded.
Specialized Decoding Machines
Some locksmiths, especially mobile ones, have specialized computerized machines to decode keys. Connecting electric decoders directly to locks reads the bitting pattern, cuts a duplicate, and programs it without needing your existing keys as a template.
Why Hire an Auto Locksmith?
As you can see, safely opening locked vehicles and making replacement keys requires quite advanced skills and professional tools. Attempting these complex tasks without proper experience can result in car damage or personal injury.
Hiring a knowledgeable auto locksmith saves you time, money, and trouble. They have specialized equipment, mobile services, and extensive experience with all vehicle makes and models. This allows them to quickly and efficiently unlock your car and cut new programmed keys without issue or damage.
In summary, by using Slim Jims, wedges, air bags, electric decoding devices, transponder programmers, or drill kits, experienced auto locksmiths have the tools and expertise to safely handle all your car key and locking problems. So next time you find yourself with keys locked in your car or broken off in the ignition, call a professional auto locksmith right away.