Pick a Car Door Lock

There are many tools available to the recovery agent, locksmith and law enforcement personnel to gain entry into locked vehicles of every make and model of car, truck and vehicle on the road. One of the most common is the slim jim. Auto jigglers or tryout keys are also found in a lot of toolboxes.  Tryout keys, like the slim jim are simple to use, not very precise or sophisticated. Because they are simple to use and don't cost a lot they are widely available and still in great demand.

Tips for Auto Lockouts, Extracting Keys and Impressioning Keys

  • 10 Cut Nissan/Subaru Key System: The newest Nissan/Subaru key is the 10-cut system requiring the X237 key blank and a new code card (for those using the HPC 1200 CM machine). This key is much thicker than the X123 blank that was used in the 8-cut wafer locks, meaning it's going to be less likely to have the breakage problem that the older key has suffered. However, this lock is also proving to be a bear to impression and/or read. It reminds me a lot of the 8-cut Ford locks in this respect, with 2 more wafers to deal with. You can have good luck decoding the door lock after removing it from the door, however. The drainage slot is nice and big and the door lock contains all ten wafers. I've been successful on two occasions getting a key through a combination of reading and impressioning. I find that if you are close enough with the wafer reading, and do not cut too deeply on any of the stations, you can get impression marks on those stations that need 1 more hit. The wafers are so thick they leave marks that are easy to miss.
  • Extracting a Broken Key from an Automobile Lock: It's always difficult to remove a broken key blade from an automotive lock when the fragment is small and has been pushed to the very back of the plug. In cases like this, all the wafers fall in front of the fragment, making it nearly impossible to remove even if you manage to get a spiral extractor into one of the grooves of the key. It's usually disassembly time - and if you're dealing with an ignition lock with an active retainer (the plug must be turned to a release position before the retainer can be depressed), you have a real problem. Here's a solution that works many more times than it fails. First, get a key blank of the appropriate type and remove both shoulders, making the blade continuous from tip to the beginning of the bow. Now file or grind the end of the blank into a bull-nose shape, making certain the slopes of the tip are smooth and gradual so it will feed easily into the keyway. Now insert this modified blank into the keyway as far as it will go. Butting it up against the fragment at the rear of the plug, you are essentially moving all the wafers out of your way and at the same time lining up the grooves of the modified blank with those of the fragment. You can now feed a long key extractor into one of the grooves of your helper key and carefully move it all the way back to the broken blade. Use a spiral extractor for best results. You can "screw" the spiral wire into the soft brass of the fragment, then very carefully pull both the modified key and (hopefully) the broken piece out of the lock in one operation.
  • Broken Transponder Key: If you run into a situation where your customer has broken or damaged the blade of his or her transponder key, you may not have the option of making a new key if the vehicle is one of the many presently being sold that must be towed to a dealer to have new keys made (the initial transponder systems of some vehicles such as Ford allowed on-site programming of the vehicle, newer systems require sophisticated computer equipment to do this task). As long as the original key head is available to you and is undamaged, you can create a working key by duplicating the broken blade of the original (or originating a key by the method you determine to be best), then instruct your customer to hold the head of the original blank against the ignition lock or press it against the head of the mechanical key while the ignition is turned. The car will start, enabling it to be taken to a dealer where a replacement can be made (the transponder is required to be near the switch only to start the car, and is not needed to keep the car running.)
  • Broken Key Removal: Removing broken keys from ignition locks that have active retainers (the plug must be turned to the release position to allow a retaining pin to be depressed for removal of cylinder) can be particularly trying when the fragment is small and is deep within the plug. It is often impossible in this case to get a grip on the key blade with extractors due to wafers having dropped in front of the broken piece. In at least some cases, you will be able to insert what remains of the key into the lock and coax the plug to turn. Try the key without altering it in any way first. If you cannot get the pieces to mate closely enough to align the wafers, try filing the end of the bow portion of the key so that any twisting or deforming of metal is eliminated. I've found this works about 90 percent of the time. Once you get the lock to turn, be careful not to accidentally turn it back to the locked position You may not have the same luck next try. With the plug in the removal position, you can depress the pin and your job is much easier to get the broken fragment out.
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