Make sure your vehicle locks work! #2

If you car doors don’t work – don’t just rely on your remote. If your remotes stop working, the vehicle battery goes flat, or you lose your car keys / lock them in, then the only way into the vehicle may be by smashing the glass. An auto locksmith may not be able to help you.

If the locks are broken and the vehicle is deadlocked then no amount of bending the door open to poke something in in the gap is going to get you in. You can’t open the door by sliding a tool between the glass and the door. You are left with 2 choices – either go through the skin of the door, or break the window glass.

smashed car window

I’ve been to two Ford Transits and recently with faulty locks and the remotes couldn’t be used. The cheapest option was for the vehicle owner to smash their own glass. If you are going to smash your glass it’s advisable to completely tape the entire window up to prevent a mess like that above.

In one of the Transit examples it was the second time in 6 months the owner had to smash their own glass. If only they’d got their locks fixed the first time around.

UPVC doors – butt hinges or flag hinges?

Double glazed doors tend to be fitted with either butt hinges, or flag hinges. Butt hinges are commonly seen on cheaper, lower spec UPVC French doors and frames. These offer little or not adjustment. Flag hinges are normally found on better quality doors and offer greater adjustment. (Metal skinned composite doors will usually have butt hinges as they do not sag, warp or as badly as UPVC doors).

UPVC door butt hinge
UPVC door butt hinge. Original fit. Doors misaligned with resultant broken mechanism.

If doors fitted with butt hinges have sagged, dropped, or were installed wonky to begin with it may be impossible to align the doors correctly. The additional strain trying to lock wonky doors will often cause the multipoint locking system to fail, jamming the door shut, or unable to lock.

Rather than replace wonky doors for a complete new set of doors/frames it is often possible (and certainly cheaper) to replace the butt hinges for flag hinges. These offer much more adjustment in all the planes and take the strain off of the locking mechanism.

UPVC door flag hinge
Original hinges upgraded to adjustable flag hinges.

We repaired these doors but replacing the original butt hinges for these flag hinges (3 per door leaf). Previously the doors had been held closed for months by nothing more than a padlock around the handles. The doors were so badly installed that the locking mechanism was broken and could not be replaced. The new hinges allowed the doors to be lined up correctly and a new working multipoint strip to be fitted.

If you are near to Forest of Dean / Ross on Wye and your UPVC double glazed doors or windows need repair or adjustment give Ross-Dean Locksmiths a call.

Keys locked in car/boot – opened.

Although we don’t do car replacement keys for later model Mercedes we are still able to open them. In this example today in the Forest of Dean the keys were locked in the boot, and the car was deadlocked shut.

Keys locked in boot

A national breakdown service had previously attended and were unable to open the vehicle. (In their defence this car did have a particularly difficult lock to pick). The breakdown service had tried bending the door open and shoving various bits of wire in the gap – that clearly won’t work on a deadlocked vehicle. We opened the lock without damage using the correct tools.

If you have locked your keys in your vehicle and it has been deadlocked you have 3 main options – 1) your spare key, 2) an auto locksmith, 3) smashing a window.

This week alone we’ve seen 3 vehicles where the locks were damaged/not even connected and the the remote had failed/been lost or the vehicle flat. The only option the customer had was to smash a window.

If you don’t have a spare key it is an idea to keep a good close up photograph of your key on your phone. Most auto locksmiths can cut the metal part of the key from the photograph. If the lock is too stiff to turn with a delicate locksmith tool it may still be possible to turn the lock with a key.

Access control door not locking

Customer reported an access controlled door that would not lock. The door was remotely released by a button operating an electric strike. Although the door could be unlocked remoted it was necessary to walk to the door lock it closed every time.

Chubb 3R35

If you know what you’re looking at you can tell why the lock shown below would not close without intervention. The lock is not designed for use with an electric strike. It is a Chubb 3R3F, which is a variant of the Chubb 3G110 detainer lock. These locks are unusual that they use a system of linkages between the bolt and the levers. The bolt stump does not directly locate into the levers. They are one of the hardest mortice locks to pick and give very little feedback.

Destructive entry – broken door mech

We attended a call to an industrial unit near Forest of Dean. New steel doors had recently been fitted (not by us), with 8 locking points into the frame. When the workers tried to enter for work they were unable to open the door. No keys would turn fully. They were locked out. This was the only entrance.

The keys could not be turned because the mechanism inside the door had broken. The mechanism could not be freed with the lock in place. The only way to remove the lock was to cut off the stainless steel lock cover then to destroy the lock. Once the lock was removed were were able to withdraw the steel locking bolts back inside the door.

Steel door opening - locksmith

Ideally a locksmith would gain entry without having to destroy the lock. However, in cases where a lock or mechanism is broken there is often no alternative but to remove the lock using special methods. In this situation a new lock was fitted, a faulty bolt removed and the door was then fully operational.

Keys locked in car and boot.

It’s been busy this week for car openings. 4 of them we were called after various national and local breakdown/recovery services were unable to open the vehicle. For some reason Puntos are the most popular vehicle this week.

This Seat vehicle was opened by us after the previous company failed. They’d tried bending the door open and shoving a bit of metal down the side of the door. If you want your door damaged, that’s the way to do it. If you want the job doing properly and without damage call an auto-locksmith. There are several working in the area, including ourselves.

Vehicle opening. Keys locked in car.

If you’ve locked you keys in your car or your boot anywhere in Ross on Wye, Forest of Dean, Monmouth and need an auto locksmith then give us a call.

Mortice lock non-destructive entry (picked).

We were asked to achieve non-destructive entry to a property fitted with this British Standard 5 lever mortice lock. I’d never had to open one of this make/model before. They just aren’t that common around here. Fortunately it’s easy to tell what this lock is by looking in the keyhole. Although branded MHS it is actually manufactured by Avocet.

Avocet Mortice lock picked open

If you look at the bottom of the faceplate above you will see “BS3621 1980”. The latest version of BS3621 is 2017, which is much more stringent than the 1980 iteration. The most significant difference is length of bolt throw. Modern locks will have the BS kite mark on the faceplate. Other specifications in the BS are resistance to sawing attack, minimum resistance pressure to bolt being forced back in, and minimum number of key differs.

The distinctive cut out of the hardplate and the flared keyway are unique to this lock. Most of the levers have 1 or 2 anti-pick notches.

Distinctive Avocet keyway

If you have lost your keys or locked yourself out of your house, locked your keys in your car / boot anywhere in the Forest of Dean, Ross on Wye and surrounding areas give us a call and speak to a locksmith.

Alternative to expensive BMW, Volvo and VW slot remotes

The type of dash remote that slots into the dashboard of some BMW, Volvo and VW can be very expensive to replace. If you currently only have 1 remote and don’t want potentially pay several hundred pounds for a spare one, you don’t have to.

If you just need a backup in case you lose your only remote there is a much cheaper alternative. It is called a dashpod. With a manual key and a transponder chip programmed to your car, a dashpod can be used to open the vehicle and start it. A dashpod can even get wet as there is no circuitry or battery inside to become damaged like a remote. Admittedly it doesn’t look as nice as a remote, but it can get you home if you’ve lost your only remote. And it’s probably at least £100 cheaper than a spare remote that might actually never be needed and may just sit in a drawer.

VW Passat emergency dashpod and key
VW Passat dashpod (left) we supplied and programmed as a backup to the remote.
Volvo XC emergency dashpod key
This Volvo dashpod is awaiting a new home.

Car key programming available in Ross on Wye, Forest of Dean and surrounding areas.

Car remote fob repairs

Very often car remotes can become damaged, or just start to fall apart. The buttons on the circuit board are particularly prone to failing, especially the older type with the rubber centres. The ceramic centred buttons are much more reliable. Often the buttons will simply crack the solder joints and fall off.

It is normally cheaper to repair a remote than replace it. Often you can do this DIY, especially if the PCB and chip are intact and it’s just the outer shell that need replacing. You can buy most remote shells for £5-15 and swap the internals over yourself.

Renault remote repair

In this example above not only is the outer shell broken but the button itself is damaged. The customer could still use the vehicle because it could be opened manually on the key, and the transponder chip was still recognised by the immobiliser.

Porsche Boxter remote repair

Above is a remote for a Porsche Boxster somewhere in the Forest of Dean. The customer couldn’t get into the vehicle at all because not only had the unlock button fallen to bits, but the locks were broken so it wouldn’t open on the the key. A replacement button was soldered on to enable to customer to drive home until the locks were repaired.

Keys locked in car boot.

Keys locked in car
Lexus IS200 non destructive entry.

90% of the time when called to a vehicle with keys locked in the car / boot it will be raining. This case of keys locked in the boot in Ross on Wye was no exception to the rule.

It was dry when taking photos of the vehicle before touching it. By the time tools touched the car it was a cloudburst for the next few minutes.

We open vehicles without damage. We have the correct tools for the purpose, and the knowledge how to use them. We do not bend doors open, stick bits of coat hanger or string down the side of the door, or try any of the YouTube fantasies such as half tennis balls. That’s just going to damage or bend your door, perhaps shatter your window, or at best make you look a wally.

If your car has been deadlocked then no amount of fishing about with bits of wire down the side of the door will open it. You need an auto locksmith to make a non destructive entry, or find yourself a brick and a new window.

A few weeks ago I was called to cut a replacement car key somewhere in the Forest as it had snapped. It was a weekend evening. One of the national breakdown companies was sending somebody from Luton to cut the key – at a cost of £600!!!! The customer was required to expected to pay this up front and the breakdown company would subsequently reimburse them. The customer understandably rang around locally instead and cancelled the guy coming from Luton.

Last week I opened an car for a customer who had been locked out, standing in a supermarket car park for 10 hours. 2 patrols from a national breakdown service had been unable to open the boot to retrieve the keys and they had sent a recovery truck to take it away. Due to being a cabriolet there was no boot release inside the main body of the car. The boot had probably never been opened with the key since the day the car was built. It’s always worth using your metal key to open the doors every so often, just to stop the locks from seizing.