How to Rekey Your Car Door Locks

  • 1-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 10-20
What You'll Need
Door re-keying kit
Screw driver
Compatible blank key
Jeweler's files
Dremel tool (optional)

Car door locks may seem intimidating and with today’s complicated anti-theft devices there are certain things that should be left to the professionals. However re-keying a car door lock is definitely something you can do yourself with the proper tools and some care and patience. Often times there will arise a need to re-key a car lock. For instance if your keys are lost or stolen you definitely do not want those keys out there floating around to be able to successfully open your car door. Follow these steps to re-key your car door locks.

Step 1 - Remove the Lock and Tumbler

Start by removing the door lock that you are working on and taking out the tumbler mechanism. You will be able to see that the tumblers inside are set in the pattern of the previous key that worked on your car door's lock. Readjust the tumblers so that they will fit a different key pattern and will no longer open with the old door key.

Step 2 - Mark Your Key Blank for Cutting

Insert your blank key into the tumbler mechanism. With a pen or scribe of some kind mark the positions of each tumbler on the blade of the key blank. These marks will indicate where the key needs to be cut to.

Step 3 - Cut Your New Key

To cut your key you should use a dremel tool with a cut off wheel to cut in the grooves of the key. If you do not have a dremel tool available you can carefully cut the grooves into the key blank using a set of jeweler’s files. Make sure to check the fit often and be careful not to cut below the lines you have marked. Patience is a virtue when shaping a precise instrument like a key.

Step 4 - Test Your New Key

Once your key is cut, make sure that your tumblers are all perfectly flush with the outside edge of the tumbler plug. Once everything is in place it is time to test your new key. Carefully reassemble your door lock mechanism and try your new key. With any luck your new key will work perfectly and you will have successfully re-keyed your car door lock. If your key for some reason does not work you must remove your door lock and re-cut a new key.

Step 5 - Completion

Once you have successfully made a new key that fits your new lock tumbler configuration in one door lock, adjust the tumblers in all of the other locks to match your key. Once this key opens all of your door locks you may reassemble the entire system and you will have re-keyed your whole car. Now you should be able to take your new key to any hardware store and have copies made from your original that will have no problem opening your newly configured door locks.