The Top 8 Automotive Locksmith Services You Should Know About


For many, auto locksmiths simply open locked cars. While this is a very popular service, there is far more to automotive locksmithing than simply picking locks.

As vehicles become more complex, automotive locksmiths have had to acquire skills that make them more akin to auto technicians at times. Auto locksmiths are required to understand a variety of different locking systems and how to bypass them.

But, repair and replacement work is part and parcel of being an automotive locksmith, as is knowing how to read code and program. Because of how the role of an auto locksmith has grown, there are likely to be services that you are unaware of.

This article is aiming to highlight eight of the top services that auto locksmiths provide.

Why even use an automotive locksmith?

If you’re wondering why an auto locksmith is needed, you are probably not alone. Surveys have shown that the majority of people prefer to carry out DIY work instead of hiring professionals. Reasons for doing so include saving money and keeping busy.

Millennials lead the way for DIY home improvements. Some 80% polled in one survey said they would always try DIY first. With the cost of living rising, it isn’t shocking to find people wanting to make repairs and improvements by themselves.

However, professionals bring plenty of benefits. A scan of the website for Locksmith Plus Inc. in Salem Oregon shows a host of services that most people couldn’t do. Auto locksmiths need an understanding of coding and diagnostics tools to reprogram transponder keys. And auto locksmiths have to be able to gain access to vehicles promptly.

Automotive locksmiths operate emergency services. The average person won’t be able to get past keyless car locks without the same knowledge and tools that a professional will have.

What might happen if you choose not to use an auto locksmith?

Trying to cut corners and bypass professional services often goes awry. In the case of automotive lock problems, there are a number of things that could go wrong.

Possible outcomes and issues from DIY auto locksmithing include:

  • Damage to car
  • Warranty invalidation
  • Legal problems
  • Personal safety
  • Unsecured car
  • Missed appointments
  • Spoilage

You might not have expected to see these concerns so here is a brief breakdown.

Damage to your vehicle

One of the likely outcomes is that you will damage the locking mechanism or the body of your car if you try and force your way into it. This will likely result in expensive repairs and the need for an auto locksmith regardless.

Warranty invalidation

Manufacturers hand out warranties on many new goods. Furniture and electronic items will come with a warranty, and so do new vehicles. But, unfortunately, some dealers will try and find ways out of upholding claims on warranties. Using  DIY locksmithing methods to access your vehicle might just cause your warranty to be invalidated.

Legal problems

Just how will it look when you are seen trying to break into your car? There is every chance that the law will be called on you. And with your car papers locked inside the vehicle there is only one way you can prove it’s yours; you guessed it, call an auto locksmith.

Personal safety

Being locked out of a vehicle in a bad neighborhood at night isn’t good. An auto locksmith could get you out of there in minutes. But, unless you are skilled at lockpicking, you might be stuck alone in an area with high crime rates.

Unsecured car

If the car lock has been damaged during a break-in or is just malfunctioning, you may not be able to secure your vehicle.

Missed appointments

Getting locked out of a car will inevitably cause some inconvenience. This could lead to missed appointments, being late for work, or important events such as birthdays.


Finding that you’ve locked the keys inside the car after a visit to the supermarket might lead to spoilage and waste unless you can get into the vehicle quickly.

What are the top services offered by auto locksmiths?

To avoid the negative outcomes above, and others, auto locksmiths provide many services. Below are eight of the most useful services.

1 Gaining access through any standard car locking mechanism

Locking systems on cars have gone through a number of stages of evolution since Bosch first installed locks on ignitions. But, millions of cars on the road still require standard keys to open and start them.

Auto locksmiths provide a service that helps motorists get past any standard car lock. This includes the doors, the trunk, and the fuel cap. And it isn’t limited to cars. Auto locksmiths can gain access to any vehicle including lorries and help motorcycle owners too. Broken keys and faulty locks are no barriers to a good auto locksmith.

2 Emergency call outs

Perhaps the main bulk of an automotive locksmith’s workload. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, emergency call-outs.

Auto locksmiths are regularly called out to attend to emergencies. Some of the situations mentioned before require fast assistance. An auto locksmith will help a shopper get their groceries home before they spoil. An emergency call-out will get a stranded motorist out of a potentially bad neighborhood. And emergency locksmith services will avoid any confusion and problems with law enforcement.

3 Bypassing keyless car locking systems

Modern cars have very different locking systems from the ones in the past. Remote keys allow cars to be unlocked with or without a traditional key, and transponders do away with a physical key entirely.

Of course, keyless locks require different methods to gain access. Automotive locksmiths use different tools and skills to bypass keyless locking systems.

4 Installation of car security systems

Not all auto locksmiths offer the same services. But, many auto locksmiths have evolved to go further than just offering lockout services.

An auto locksmith may offer some ways to increase car security. There are good reasons to install GPS in a car. Stolen vehicles are more likely to be recovered with GPS. And an auto locksmith might provide installation services for car alarms and immobilizers.

5 Repair and replacement of locking systems and ignition

There are several services provided by auto locksmiths surrounding the repair and replacement of keys and locks.

Expect a good automotive locksmith to carry the following services:

  • Laser key cutting
  • Key code cutting
  • Replacement remote key fobs
  • Transponder key programming
  • Lock replacement
  • Lock repair
  • Replacement ignition switches
  • Ignition repairs
  • Door actuator replacements
  • Broken key removal

Auto locksmiths provide almost any service you can think of to do with vehicle locks.

6 Diagnostic services

An area less considered is diagnostics, but auto locksmiths are increasingly involved in this. Automotive locksmiths are far more knowledgeable about car computer systems than in the past. They are equipped to run diagnostic checks and can communicate with electronic modules and carry out coding.

Any good ECU mapping kits will improve a car’s performance. And auto locksmiths use diagnostic tools to extract data from a car’s ECU to program new transponders. Automotive locksmiths will also detect battery issues that might affect door locks and actuators.

7 Fleet management

Many companies use auto locksmith services to help keep their fleet on the road. Downtime costs businesses millions, and utilizing auto locksmith services is vital for maximum productivity.

Many auto locksmiths offer fleet management services to help maintain locking systems, replace keys, and provide emergency call-outs.

8 Residential and business locksmith services

It is not uncommon to find that an automotive locksmith is part of a bigger concern. Locksmith companies may offer a range of services that help homeowners, residents, businesses, and motorists.

The locksmith industry is huge and used by all manner of people. The Federal government is one of the industry’s biggest customers and spent $13,538,875 in 2022 on 44 locksmith companies.

As well as fixing vehicle lock problems, locksmith companies are able to provide advice and risk assessments on homes. This could lead to security upgrades to keep your car safer at night or when you are on vacation.

Are there other services from auto locksmiths?

Towing businesses often offer locksmith services these days. Unlike experienced auto locksmiths, tow companies usually only offer basic locksmith services such as gaining entry with a slim jim.

In contrast, some auto locksmith companies offer a towing service. This isn’t hugely common but on the rare occasion that an automotive locksmith cannot fix a problem on-site, they can tow the vehicle to their workshop.

Mostly, though, auto locksmiths will provide the services listed above, and fix any problems swiftly.

Auto locksmiths provide a range of specialized services beyond just opening locked cars. As vehicles evolve technologically, so do the skills required by automotive locksmiths, making them akin to auto technicians. These professionals must master various locking systems, understand how to bypass them, and are often involved in repair and replacement tasks. Additionally, their role extends to reading code and programming—skills critical in today’s complex automotive environment. One notable service that might not be widely recognized is the installation and maintenance of GPS tracking systems. GPS Tracker Shop’s GPS trackers are invaluable for security and logistical purposes, allowing vehicle owners to monitor their car’s location in real-time. Auto locksmiths are equipped to integrate these systems seamlessly with a vehicle’s existing security setup. Overall, the role of an auto locksmith has expanded significantly, encompassing a diverse array of services that go beyond traditional lock picking.

Auto locksmiths don’t only deal with emergencies. Duplicate keys offer security and can avoid having to call out an emergency auto locksmith. Yet, car dealers charge a premium for duplicate transponders and remote keys. Automotive locksmiths will be happy to provide duplicate keys to car owners, usually at a lower price.

How much will an auto locksmith cost?

Locksmiths offer different rates for standard hours and out-of-office hours normally. A good auto locksmith will usually offer flat rates, as well as minimum and maximum charges. It is worth investigating some auto locksmiths and finding one with transparent pricing.

Once you are happy with your choice, program the number into your phone in case of future emergencies. As for how much an auto locksmith costs, the prices vary.

The best course of action is to find a few local locksmiths and compare the prices. Look for comparable reviews, and make a selection that suits your finances. For a ballpark figure, expect unlocking services to cost between $75 and $150 on average.


Auto locksmiths provide invaluable services in awkward situations. Often, being locked out of a car creates a time-sensitive situation. Important appointments could be missed for instance.

But, automotive locksmiths also provide duplicate keys so that these incidents might be avoided. An auto locksmith might also help you to upgrade your car’s security system, and carry out some diagnostics.

It’s always better to have the details of emergency services and never use them, to not have them at all. Taking the time to compare some locksmiths now, may mean you can benefit from one of these top services when in need.