Troubleshooting Some Simple Problems With Locks Before You Call a Locksmith

Posted on: 20 November 2015


If the locks on your home or car don't work as smoothly and as easily as they should, you may be tempted to simply call a locksmith and have them replaced. This may be necessary in some cases as tumblers and other parts of the lock break down over time, but not every lock that is sticky or not working needs replacing. Before you call a locksmith, note a few simple troubleshooting tips you might try instead.

1. Cleaning the lock

Entryway locks to a home are notorious for collecting dust and dirt, and when this happens, the tumblers cannot get into place in order to let you open the lock. You might try a quick spray of a cleaner such as WD40 into the lock itself and see if that fixes the problem. Use a few sprays if necessary, and the dust and dirt might be removed and let the lock work perfectly again. This can also get out any obstruction that may be in the way of the tumblers, including ice, sawdust from a nearby renovation project, and the like.

2. Making a new key

Before assuming that the lock is the problem, note if the key itself is worn down, chipped, gouged, or otherwise damaged. Lock tumblers get pushed out of place with the shape of the key, and when a key is chipped or otherwise damaged, it won't work to fit those tumblers. If you have a second key to a lock on hand, try that. If the second key works, then you simply need to make a new key to replace the first. If you only have one key, you might try sanding it down just a small bit to make it smooth, and this might allow it to fit the lock more snugly.

3. Locked steering wheel

If your car's ignition switch won't turn when you insert the key, the problem may be a locked steering wheel. In many cars, the steering wheel will get locked when the car is turned off so that the wheels cannot simply be turned out of place and the car might go rolling away. When the steering wheel is locked, the ignition usually gets locked at well. Try gently turning your steering wheel in one direction or another to unlock it while you try to turn the ignition. If this doesn't fix the problem, you may have a worn ignition cylinder that needs replacing.

If none of these seem to be the problem, it's time to call a locksmith to come fix the issue for you.