What is an auto locksmith and what do they do?

Listed Under: News and Advice

What is an auto locksmith and what do they do? Full Width Image

If you find yourself locked out of your car or van, can’t find your keys or they’ve stopped working, then an emergency auto locksmith will usually be your first port of call. But what is an auto locksmith, and what do they do?

An auto locksmith is a specialist locksmith focusing on vehicle keys and locks. You may have heard them referred to as either vehicle locksmiths or car locksmiths. Their job is very similar to a general locksmith’s except, of course, they work with vehicles rather than doors in buildings. Most auto locksmiths start as general locksmiths before specialising in the automotive branch.

When should I call an auto locksmith?

You should call an auto locksmith when there’s an issue with either getting into or locking your car, such as:

  • A broken lock – you might be unable to either unlock or lock the car
  • A broken key or key fob, requiring repair or replacement
  • After a break-in
  • If you’ve locked your keys inside your vehicle
  • When you need a spare or replacement car key (for example, when selling the car)

Can I call an auto locksmith when I’m stuck away from home?

Auto locksmiths are used to being called out to all sorts of locations. As well as people’s homes, they often end up working in car parks or on the roadside. Someone can lose or break their keys at any time of any day (or night). As such, auto locksmiths are always on call, with many services offering 24/7 emergency assistance.

What does an auto locksmith do?

Obvious comparisons between cars and regular doors aside, the job of an auto locksmith is relatively similar to that of a general locksmith. Although they’ll still be highly skilled in working with traditional keys and locks, an auto locksmith tends to spend time reprogramming electronics more than you might think.

Since the early 90s, remote key fobs – a term originally referring to any small object on a key chain – have held the now-universal “LOCK” and “UNLOCK” buttons. You can use the actual key to access most vehicles, although people only tend to do this when the fob isn’t working. Keys also contain transponders. These are clever little radio circuits powered by the car’s ECU – it’s on-board computer. If the radio code doesn’t match the key, the engine won’t start and often activate an immobiliser. This is an extremely efficient anti-theft device. However, when it malfunctions, it can cause irritating problems for you as the owner.

Nowadays, the key itself is usually only used in the ignition. With keyless systems becoming more and more common, even standard car keys are becoming obsolete. When something goes wrong with a key fob or responder key, it requires specialist and advanced knowledge and technology to fix them. The job of the modern auto locksmith often involves reprogramming these to get them working again.

What other services do auto locksmiths offer?

Auto locksmiths can also prevent lost or stolen keys and remotes from working. On the off-chance they fall into the wrong hands, they won’t work in your car. That’s one less thing to worry about.

It’s uncommon, but sometimes old car keys can snap off in the ignition. The key will often snap at the base of the blade. If the car’s engine has somehow started, you’ll need to stall it to turn the engine off. If, as in most cases, the engine didn’t start, you’ll now - unfortunately - be stuck. It’s not the greatest idea to try to remove it yourself, as damage to the ignition cylinder (the part you put the key in) can potentially lead to expensive repairs. Instead, it’s best to wait until an auto locksmith can come to remove your key’s remnant. Of course, you’ll also need a replacement key fob to get on the move again.

It's important to remember that an auto locksmith does not make car keys. However, most will be able to supply you with new keys and fully programmed fobs, whether the old one was lost, damaged or simply worn out.

Some people like to have spare keys ready for when they need them – it really does pay to be prepared. Others purchase a new spare key when they’re getting ready to sell their car.

Does Grays offer auto locksmith services?

Here at Grays Locksmiths Derby, our auto locksmith services include:

  • Replacement vehicle keys, including flip keys
  • Remote fobs
  • Transponders

Whether you need a regular key, a fob, or a transponder, we offer all our keys using OEM equipment, whether from the main dealer or a reputable after-market source. Because we have the latest vehicle key cutting and programming technology on-site, we can replace or reprogram keys for around 95% of the vehicles on the road in the UK today.

Feel free to give our security centre a call on 0115 942 2315 to book an appointment or use the contact page on the website.