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Being a locksmith has changed a lot over the years. Once upon a time, the only automotive locksmith tools needed to cover the vast majority of jobs were a good set of lock picks for door locks, a slim jim for cars, and a stethoscope in case you also offered services as a safecracker. These simple tools combined with nimble hands, good ears and a fair amount of patience were all anyone really needed to be a good locksmith.

Now, though, there are locks of ever greater complexity and styles as well as electronic keypads, car alarm systems, and magnetic locks, the number of tools that a modern locksmith has to be familiar with is staggering when compared to even ten years ago. Of course, while making the job of the locksmith more difficult, it has also made people and their belongings considerably more secure. We think the tradeoff is worth it, especially since it lets us use all of these new automotive locksmith tools.

What follows is a rundown of just some of the modern tools of the trade a modern locksmith uses on a regular basis.

Everyone locks their keys in their car from time to time. It just happens. And when it does, you call someone with locksmith skills. Naturally, you are going to expect that a locksmith has automotive locksmith tools in his tool bag to get you back into your car. Especially if you are just coming out of a late shift at one in the morning and it’s 20 degrees outside. Here are some of the tools you can expect to see in that tool bag.

  • Air Wedge – Most vehicle doors don’t leave a lot of room between the panel and the window to slide a tool in so you can get at the locking mechanism. A good air wedge is just what is needed to open up a nice big gap without damaging anything. Just slide the deflated wedge between the window and the door frame and slowly inflate it with the simple hand pump.
  • Extractors – Perhaps that late-night call wasn’t because the client locked himself out of the car. Instead, he has an old vehicle with a wafer lock that has been giving him trouble. Finally, it locked up on him and broke off. To get that broken key out, you’ll need a good set of extractors to remove it without damaging the lock further.
  • Flat Door Panel Tool – Perhaps you can’t get at the locking mechanism, even with the air wedge. Or it developed a leak and won’t stay inflated. That means you might need to get the whole panel off. With typical tools, this would be a risky business that could damage the panel. With this handy removal device, you can slide it in and release the clips that hold the panels in place. Before you know it, that panel will be off with no damage and you’ll be able to get your client back on the road in just a few minutes.
  • Wafer Lock Reader – Not as common on modern vehicles, the wafer lock is something a locksmith is still very likely to find on a call to help someone get back into their vehicle. A good wafer lock reader is must to have in the tool bag, especially if for some reason the locking mechanism can’t be accessed through other means. The wafer lock reader will let a skilled locksmith know the internal configuration of the wafers which simplifies the picking process and also whether or not they have been damaged. There are many different kinds of wafer lock readers on the market, from ones with built-in cameras to others that look like a simple set of picks.
  • Door Gap (rubber wedge) – One of the simplest and most valuable tools in the locksmith’s tool bag is the humble rubber wedge. Used in conjunction with the air wedge, a simple rubber or plastic wedge should provide a locksmith all the room he needs to get that door open and the client back behind the wheel. Typically, the air wedge will provide the gap, allowing the door gap to be inserted. If more room is needed, a few light taps with the palm of the hand or a (small!) hammer should be sufficient. With the door gap in place, the air wedge is deflated and removed, allowing for a nice long and wide gap to work with.

These are just a few of the automotive locksmith tools that he will need to have available in his tool bag when going on an automotive call. Next time, we’ll look at some of the tools a locksmith will need to have on hand to deal with residential locks.

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