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What Services Do Locksmiths Do?


what-services-do-locksmiths-doIf you want to know what the typical locksmith does, you have landed on the right page. I spend hours every week marketing for locksmith business owners. I have become very familiar with the industry, what locksmiths do, etc.

All the services that locksmiths offer can be split up into two main categories. The first is the auto/car category and the second is the home/business category.

*Use our table of contents box to the right to skip to the exact section you need.

P.S. If you want to add to this list, please message us on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter with services we are missing.

Car Key Replacements

Many locksmiths offer car key replacement services. However, not every locksmith has either the equipment or the expertise to do so. Why? Like everything in today’s world the locksmith industry keeps advancing and becoming more technical and specialized. Such is the case with all different types of car keys floating around out there.

Many people who have recently lost, broken, or need a spare set made will find that there are many locksmiths that can’t do car key replacements. This doesn’t mean that they are bad locksmiths. It could simply mean that they have chosen not to specialize in car locksmith services but are focusing their efforts on residential and commercial locksmith work.

Differences in Car Keys

Transponder Keys

Car keys keep evolving with time. After 1995 it became common practice for manufacturers to make cars with keys that were chipped. These chipped keys have become known as transponder keys. One of the idea behind chipped car keys was to make security for the vehicle better. With a transponder key it isn’t enough to just have the key cut right but it also has to be programmed to that specific car.

Laser Cut Keys

Have you ever seen those keys that are cut on the top of the key as if someone carved out a channel on the flat surface of the key? This is a laser cut key and is a more expensive key to make and offers additional security benefits for the car owner.

Laser cut keys require special equipment and experience. Because of the initial investment it takes to get the equipment many locksmiths don’t offer laser car key cutting services.

Key Copies

If you call a locksmith to copy your house key or some other simple key, they are most likely going to refer you to a local hardware store. The price and simplicity to cut basic keys is so low that locksmiths would have to charge 4 – 6 times the amount in a store to make any money copying basic keys. Why? Because most locksmiths are mobile only and would need to make a special trip to your location to copy the keys.

So, although a locksmith has the experience and expertise to copy basic keys many of them won’t advertise for this service or offer it as a single service. They will often do them if they are already doing another type of job.

Car Lockouts

Have you ever locked yourself out of your car? If so, you most likely went straight to your phone and looked for someone to unlock your car. Locksmiths are the professionals that service almost all the people that lock themselves out of their cars.

Be Aware of Locksmith Scammers

With the arrival of the internet there has been a huge raise in scam artists offering car lockout services. For whatever reason the people who have been associated with these scams are primarily of non-U.S. descent. This does not mean that your locksmith will be a scammer just because he wasn’t born in the United States or has an accent. It simply means that it is highly probable based on the past locksmith scammers.

How do they scam people out of their money?

The scammers use a bait and switch approach. They quote a ridiculously low service price over the phone like $15 – $30 and when they come out they do the job and give you the exaggerated price and expect you to pay it because they did the job.

Here is a conversation I had with some veteran locksmiths trusted in their community for 25+ years. I contacted Fast Eddy from Minneapolis Minnesota on Google+ to ask him some question about the difference in prices from a legit locksmith and a scammer. I got information from Edward Mann (Fast Eddy) and his father who has been working as a locksmith for years too. Here is what followed.

Garret: “Edward, I am trying to get a better idea as to what the average house lockout and car lockout costs. Sorry if this comment is similar to the many price shoppers that have called you since 1985. What is a low and a high number and what is a number that screams scammer?”

Basil Mann: “Car open ups are typically anywhere from $55 to $65 a house open up typically runs anywhere from $85 to $95 scammers on the other hand charge anywhere from $150 to $250 for a car open up House open ups typically run anywhere from $185.00 to $600´╗┐”

I have heard similar numbers before but they continue to shock me. I proceeded to ask why someone would agree to pay such ridiculous locksmith prices/scammer prices and Basil explained how the scammer will pressure the person into paying by getting angry and belligerent to the customer until they pay for the services.

What Should You Do If You Come Across a Locksmith Scammer

Edward Mann: “Call the police´╗┐”

House Lockouts/Commercial Lockouts

A good locksmith will be able to pick most normal residential locks quickly. There are some security locks that locksmiths can’t pick. However, those are generally few and far between when it comes to homes and apartments.

One sign of a bad locksmith is their inability to pick a basic residential lock. Many so called “locksmiths” that are scammers will not even attempt to pick the lock but drill it out, rip it out, and charge you to have it replaced.

Locksmiths also unlock commercial buildings as well.

Locksmith Scammers Caught on Video

Here are some locksmith scammers caught on video by MSNBC a couple years back.

Key Fob Replacements and Programming

Did you know that little remote that hangs from your key chain is called a key fob? Key fobs are amazing, at least I think so. Key fobs make entering and exiting the vehicle much more convenient and without them we all realize how great they truly are as we have to manually unlock and lock the car each time.

What happens when your key fob stops working, breaks, or you lose it? Most immediately search for a replacement. Many go to the internet and find website that sell key fobs. Many of these sites sell good legit key fobs that will work for your vehicle. However, this isn’t always the case and sometimes people will order the wrong key fob because of a lack of experience.

A locksmith can help by supplying both the key fob itself and the labor to programmed to your car.

Lock Installations, Repairs, and Replacements

From basic door knobs to more complex security lock systems locksmiths install, repair, and replace locks for home owners and business owners alike. Locks are not always the easiest things to install and if you install them wrong it will either not work entirely or cause frustration for years to come as you try to enter through the door.

Rekeying Services

Have you ever heard of rekeying? I am not going to go into how a lock works but let’s just say that the secret code for each lock can be changed. This is fantastic for people who are looking to have a more secure home or business. What do I mean?

Example of Why People Get Their House or Business Rekeyed

Mike owns a home in Los Angeles, California and the tenant of the home just moved out. His tenant has lived in this rental home for 10 years with his family of 5. When Mike heard that his tenant was planning to move he made sure to inquire about any copies of keys that had been made. His tenant explained that throughout the years he had made copies of keys and gave them to friends and family in case they needed in the house or needed assistance when they locked themselves out. The tenant said that he couldn’t remember who all had the keys.

Now Mike has a couple options. He could try to track down all the keys and get them returned, he could have all the locks changed in the house, or he could hire a local locksmith to rekey the locks. The cheaper options and most secure option is the third. Rekeying locks will be much cheaper then buying brand new locks and installing them and much more secure than hoping you have rounded up all the copied keys out there. This same scenario can be used for a business owner who has just let an employee go who had keys to the building.

They Fix Locks

There are all types of locks out there and a locksmith has the ability to fix locks that are not working properly. I have included some examples below of what types of locks they fix.

Door Locks

The front door lock on homes, apartments, and businesses is by far the most used lock for residents. Most good locks will work for years and years but never forever. Debris can get stuck inside the lock, parts can wear down, etc. When this happens a locksmith can come out and fix the lock.

Car Door Locks, Trunk Locks, etc

Just like homes, cars have their set of locks too and they play a very important role in keeping a car secure. If your locks are not working properly, they will not only keep others out but they can keep the car owner out or stuck in the car.

Safe Locks

Safe locks are definitely a more specialized skill among locksmiths and not every locksmith has the experience, tools, know how to work on safe locks.

More Locksmith Services

In no way is this list complete. I have simply shared some of the most common things that locksmiths do. I am going to ask a bunch of “real” locksmith to look over this list and tell me what services I missed so that I can come back and add them.

I hope that this has helped you get a better idea into the world of locksmiths. If you need a locksmith, the best and worst place to look is online. It can be the worst place if you find a scammer and it can be the best place when you find a real seasoned locksmiths.

Avoid companies that are promising prices that sound too good to be true. I am working on a complete locksmith price list to help you know what prices are way out in left field and those that are real.


1. The first person/people I want to include as a resource are Edward Mann and his dad Basil Mann. They have been locksmiths for 25+ years and are the real deal. He has a great website with a lot of content that paints a great picture of who he is and his love for being a locksmith.

Here is his About Me page.

2. I learned more about transponder keys on the transponder key wikipedia page.

3. We included a news video catching some of the locksmith scammers on video by MSNBC.

4. A lot of the information above I have learned by talking with my locksmith clients on a weekly basis.

One Response to What Services Do Locksmiths Do?

  1. Zoey Smith on Dec 24, 2015 at 12:40 am

    Great News for people who need locksmith. Thank you for sharing your post over here.Your service is helpful for replacement or repair of locks, installation of locks, re-keying of lost keys,etc.

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