Call Now!


Service Status:

Entries in Auto Locksmith Category

Replacing Ignition Switches FAQ

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Auto Locksmith

Here at Top Locksmith we commonly get asked questions regarding the replacement of automotive ignition switches – a complex vehicular locksmith issue that seems much less straightforward than having broken keys. Here’s a guide to the most common questions about ignition switches that we get asked.


Is there a reason my car won’t start?

There’s a high likelihood that the reason your car won’t start is because it has a broken ignition switch. When cars won’t start many people usually resort to replacing the car battery, but this won’t solve the issues caused by a broken ignition switch. Ignition switch problems disrupt the power required to activate the engine when a transponder key is turned.


How can I know it’s time to replace my ignition switch?

Problems with my ignition switch disguise themselves as other issues – but the giveaway is if your car won’t start. This can happen in different ways – the car will still crank, or not at all  – but the ignition spark will be missing. In this situation you need to either repair or replace the ignition switch.


What are the chances of it being possible for me to repair my ignition switch?

This isn’t always easy. Sometimes there’s a simple piece or wire that can be replaced, but this isn’t common. The decision to repair or replace will be determined by measuring the cost/availability of both options against one another. Much of the time it ends up being cheaper to replace rather than repair.


How long does an ignition switch replacement take?

With all the necessary parts and equipment on hand, this will take about 20 minutes – but the exact time will be determined by how complicated the ignition structure of your car is. Usually what’s required is simply the removal of the bolts, latches, and screws holding the ignition cover together and their replacement once the ignition is switched out.


Can locksmiths really replace ignition switches?

Absolutely. When you work with the skilled locksmiths at Top, you’re guaranteeing yourself an efficient and professional ignition switch replacement, no matter the time of day.


Do I need to find a way to transport my car to the locksmith?

Absolutely not! One of the fantastic benefits of working with Top is the fact that they utilize a team of mobile locksmith vans that come directly to your location fully equipped with all the necessary tools to fully carry out an ignition switch replacement, as well as any other kind of locksmith operation.

Share Button

Types of Car Keys

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Auto Locksmith

There’s many varieties of automotive keys, including transponder keys, VATS keys, and smart keys. These car keys are furnished through one of two common automotive key cutting techniques. In this brief blog post, the experts at Top Locksmith will detail the differences between these key cutting techniques, as well as the variety of keys commonly available in the automotive market today.


Mechanical (Traditional-cut) Car Keys

These popular car key types are cut inside a key cutting machine like the ones used for regular home or office lock keys. Up until the late 20th century, this was the only way to cut car keys, but since then it’s less commonly used.


Laser Cut Keys

These keys, known as sidewinder or internal cut keys, are the more advanced of the two automotive key types. They have the advantages of pick and duplication resistance lock cylinders, and are more commonly being used by automotive manufacturers today.


Common Types of Automotive Keys

  • Transponder Keys – These car keys contain a computer microchip in it’s handle that enforces ignition security and prevents key fraud. Transponder keys can be mechanically or laser cut depending on what the make and model of the vehicle is.

  • Smart Keys – These car keys use computer microchips as well as sensors to open cars without the use of a traditional key. All that’s necessary is to have the keys on your person and your car will automatically unlock and start as you approach it closely.

  • VATS (Vehicle Anti-Theft System) Keys – These mechanical keys contain a black resistor on the blade with one of 15 possible values that offer special security and prevention of key fraud. While these keys are often considered to be electronic keys, and the resistors confused for microchips, the keys are in fact devoid of computer technology.

  • Valet Keys

  • These car keys have been modified to allow their owners to operate door locks and car ignitions, but not open locked glove boxes or trunks, and they are often issued with normal smart or transponder keys. From their name, one can tell they are particularly useful in hotel and restaurant valet contexts.

Share Button

Vehicle Theft

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Auto Locksmith

Vehicle TheftCar Theft Decline Due to Security Technology Advancements

There has been a slow and gradual lowering of automobile theft in recent years. 10 years ago, many people were losing their homes and desperate to turn to automobile theft to make ends meet. However, in the last few years, the job market has recovered, and the crime rate has lowered, and has been staying low. Another reason for car theft gradual decline is the increase in technological prowess. New smart car technology acts as a strong deterrent for thieves, in turn causing a continual decline in automobile theft. But car thieves aren’t yet finished with their dastardly trade.


New Vehicle Theft Threats

Tailgate vehicle theft has risen from around 400 7 years ago to almost 2000 since 2015. Officials estimate that the number is actually higher, but many people don’t want to report it at all. It will only take 30 seconds for a thief to take a tailgate off a car – a simple operation that utilizes basic tools. The thief can then make a severe killing selling off the electronics and scrap metal they receive through this theft. This can lead to large losses for truck owners. For example, those who own a 2016 Ford F260 King Ranch pickup truck will have to spend over 3000 dollars to replace a tailgate.


Keep Watch Over your Car Parts

You can secure your tailgates by locking them securely and parking with the tailgate backed up against a wall or another surface. Even if you don’t have a truck, you’re at risk for a specialized automobile part theft, as over 75,000 airbags get stolen from vehicles every year – and since airbags are much easier to steal than the entire car, it’s not surprising that most thieves these days don’t aim to steal the entire vehicle – just small parts of it that can fetch for good money on the illicit market. Other items that are commonly stolen are GPS devices and full systems, sound systems and stereos, car television sets, cell phones, electronic devices, third row seats, tires, and rims.


How to avoid having belongings stolen

  • Always secure your car using your key fob when you walk away from it – this will also help you remember to always have your keys on you, preventing the possibility of a lockout.
  • Keep your valuables hidden. Don’t display valuables in your ar windows, and don’t leave your keys out either.
  • Leave your car parked in well lit locations at night. If you ever see somebody in a parking lot checking up on random car doors, don’t park in that lot, and report the suspicious activity. Don’t assume that the person attempting to pick the car door is a locksmith.
Share Button

Replacing Car Door Locks Cylinders

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Auto Locksmith

Replacing car door lock cylindersThere’s myriad potential reasons for the replacement of a car door lock cylinder. It’s important to understand all the details of troubleshooting these sort of issues. Here’s Top Locksmith’s guide to car door lock cylinders.


What are car door lock cylinders?

Plainly speaking, simply, the cylinder of the lock inside your car door. They are like any other lock cylinder, being a metal tube that keys can be inserted into, turned, which matches up the latches allowing a car door to be unlocked. This is different than an ignition cylinder, even if they both use the same key and are keyed according to the same slider or wafer patterns (although many new cars don’t use ignition keys – but still use car door lock cylinders.)


How to know you need a car door lock cylinder replacement

Your key refuses to turn

If your key is not turning in your car’s lock, troubleshoot the issue to determine if the car door lock cylinder needs to be replaced. First, try a spare car key. If it doesn’t work in the lock, it’s likely the lock cylinder needs to be replaced. Also, test the original key in other door locks, as well as the trunk, or in the ignition (if it has a lock slot.) If they work in those cylinders, you will likely need to replace the cylinder of the main entrance door. If it doesn’t work for any of the cylinders it’s likely a problem with the key itself.


If you recently replaced your ignition cylinder

Car door lock cylinders should match ignition cylinders – as it’s much easier to access your car this way, and saves lots of time. Trust us, it’s simply  impractical and foolish to use two separate keys to work your car doors and it’s ignition.


Car Keys were Lost

If your car keys were lost, it’s smart to replace the car door lock cylinder, as it reduces the chances of your car being stolen greatly. However, this is based on exactly HOW you lost your keys. If your keys accidentally fell off a boat into the ocean, there’s little chances of a scuba-diving burglar happening to spot them and track them to your car. However, if they mysteriously disappeared from your workdesk, it’s smart to change the lock cylinder, just so you can feel safe and secure in the fact that only you will have access to your automobile.


If the car keys or the lock cylinder hasn’t been working well

Before car lock cylinders completely break beyond functionality, they often show gradually increasing signs of malfunctioning. This can appear as giving you issues when rotating the key, including sticking, or the all-four-door locking functionality not working correctly. If you need to wiggle the key inside the lock in order to lock or unlock the door, or remove the key at all – as well as if you experience any types of partial locking or unlocking – you will likely be best served by replacing your car lock cylinders. It’s best to tackle these issues in advance as they show up, rather than waiting for the lock cylinder to break completely – potentially leaving you stuck in a lockout, which can be a situation ranging from annoying to potentially disastrous. If you experience any of these issues, contact a trustworthy locksmith, like those at Top, as soon as possible.

Share Button

Push Button Car Keys

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Auto Locksmith

In 2017, many car companies have gotten rid of the need for car keys at all. Of course, it’s essential that car owners have a way of starting and stopping a car’s engine, but is a metallic physical key totally necessary. Many automobile makers are including push to start ignition buttons in their cars, and around 70 percent of modern vehicles have keyless car fobs that need to be present on the driver’s body in order to allow for the vehicle to get locked, unlocked, or started. Key fobs are convenient options for drivers since they get rid of the need for drivers to search around for keys in dark or rainy weather, or while they are carrying any heavy packages that might make searching for keys difficult. Vehicles are much harder to steal since burglars won’t have the keyless fob on them, and by eliminating the need for inserting a key into the ignition, you can eliminate the need to periodically refurbish or check up on your ignition.

Metal Keys – a disappearing phenomenon?

So will metal keys go the way of the dinosaurs and dodo bird, as well as the countless expert key cutters and locksmiths who make their creation and maintenance a cornerstone of their special work? No, actually. The expert automobile locksmiths at Top Locksmith have predicted this trend, and have trained to master keyless car fobs just as well as classic metallic car keys. Keyless fobs require programming specific to the vehicle they are matched with, and our expert technicians have all the necessary experience and equipment to program, reprogram, or repair any key fob that may be giving you issues.

Keyless Fobs

Keyless fobs provide additional layers of security for cars, since they make it much harder for a criminal to steal the vehicle – as even if the car is hotwired or the ignition is picked, they still we be unable to start the car without the presence of the electronic key fob. For any of the countless people worried about accidents being caused by broken ignition switches, those with keyless fobs won’t have to worry at all about a improperly installed ignition causing any accidents. A recent consumer study by AutoPacific revealed that keyless ignitions are the 5th most highly desired vehicular upgrade of 2016 – and since many people are absolutely fine paying for any safety upgrade like air bags or backing-up cameras, you can be sure that automobile manufacturers will continue listening to their demands and begin to include push button ignition technology in most new cars.

Share Button

Programming Car Keys

Posted on by TopLocksmith in Auto Locksmith

When it comes to home security, it never hurts to be prepared. One of the smartest things that you can do is to constantly maintain the possession of a spare key for your vehicle – a tactic that’s not often thought of as an essential precaution.

Transponder Chips

It’s not quite as simple as walking into your local Maryland or Washington D.C. hardware store to get an instant key copy, since almost all cars today are built with transponder keys. These transponders are made up of a small electronic chip which provides a signal to the computer system inside the car, allowing the engine to be turned on. The majority of hardware stores are unable to make duplicates of car keys, since the programming of transponders requires specific professional technology that isn’t readily available to casual consumers. This is why it’s important to have the contact information for a trustworthy and professional local automotive locksmith, like Top Locksmiths.


Duplicating Car Keys

Car key duplicates furnished at hardware stores might be able to open up the doors of your car, but most likely will not be able to start your vehicle’s engine. The only way that the copied key will be able to work in sync with your vehicle’s on board computer is if it gets programmed by a professional locksmith. The professional automotive locksmiths at Top are fully equipped with the necessary technology and computer equipment to match programmable car keys to their respective vehicles. While this is a common procedure, if one seeks it out from someone else besides a professional automotive locksmith, it can be quite expensive for the consumer – since the programming computer program is costly, and there’s also a price attached to the code which is provided by the vehicle’s manufacturer. Trustworthy local locksmiths can provide this service at a fraction of the price that one would get charged at a local automobile dealership.


Depending on the type of key that you’re copying (luxury car keys are usually priced at somewhat higher of a level) you may pay anywhere from 50 to 160 dollars. This is the general price for key copying; so if you’ve lost all versions of the keys you need, a locksmith will be able to make you a copy from scratch – but it may come at slightly higher of a price tag. The best way to avoid this expense is to make copies of your existing keys before you lose them, so that you always have a spare on hand in case you ever misplace or lose one.

Share Button

What to expect when calling a locksmith


When you call a locksmith, you want to ensure that you’re getting the best service possible. In this blog entry I’ll detail exactly what to expect in regards to process when calling a locksmith for any sort of service.


The initial Request

You have a problem and you want to solve it. You call the locksmith and ask for help – the call will usually be taken by the Locksmith’s main office, which acts as a deployer and dispatch for the company. The central service division will ask you what your location is, what sort of service you need, and your contact information.


Dispatch of Service

The central office will contact a manager for your area, who will be given your information. They will then select a local technician and send them directly to your location.


Technician Update

The technician sent to your home or business will call the customer, letting them know their estimated time of arrival. This lets the customer know how fast the process of the repair should take. Any additional information regarding the requested service will be discussed.


Security Assessment

The technician will arrive and professionally introduce himself to the client. They will then inspect the lock, and provide an assessment of exactly what the necessary steps that should be taken are. They will inform the customer of the right course of action, and together they will set a price. The customer will be then presented with a receipt that they need to sign in order to agree to the service and the charge.


The Locksmithing Work

Here’s where the meat of the process takes place. The time it will take to complete this process will range on what the service and situation is – during this process the technician will make sure not to damage any aspect of the home, business, or vehicle (besides cases where destructive entry is requested – like in lockouts that require a lock change.) However, this sort of entry is only utilized as a last resort, when there’s another way of entering the home, business, or vehicle.


Completion of Payment

The job is completed, and the customer will assess the success of the service. Then the locksmith will collect payment for the job which can usually be paid in either cash or credit. THen the technician simply gathers their equipment and leaves, on their way to help the next individual in need of expert locksmith intervention.

Share Button

Expert Car Lockout Advice

Car lockouts happen pretty often; when it does happen, the most important thing to do is breath and think carefully about what you’re going to do. Once you feel somewhat more relaxed (or less panicked) ask yourself if you have a spare key. I hope you do have one. Having a spare key in these sort of situations can be a total lifesaver. If you don’t have one, remind yourself to make one after this is all over. If you do have one, simply grab it and you can be back on the road.


The majority of cars lock all the doors at once once the lock button on the keyfob is pressed, but sometimes only the driver’s side door locks, or the stick locks can even jam. Make sure to check all your car doors to make sure they’re truly locked. Then see if the trunk is open; if you have a hatchback, you can get into the main part of your car though the trunk. If this works for you, you’re very lucky indeed.


DIY Approaches

If none of the solutions I just listed work, you’re going to have to implement some creative solutions. Calling a car locksmith can certainly help, but I’ll talk about that later. Right now, you can attempt this simple and cheap solutions that can get you back in your car. First, analyze your surroundings, and see if you can obtain any tools (thin rigid metal pieces) that can allow you to break into your car or unlock it. If you don’t have anything like this (even a shoelace with a loop can suffice), you might have to go to the hardware store to pick up materials. DIY tips work better than one might assume – you just need the right equipment.


Calling for Professional Assistance

If DIY tips aren’t working, your car is very secure indeed. The best thing to do at this time is to call a professional locksmith who provides the best in line service. They can come firectly to your location, and even make you a spare key on the spot. They are experts in broken key extraction, and can perform services in seconds that might take much longer in DIY attempts. If time is of the essence, calling a professional locksmith is the best possible thing you can do to get back inside your vehicle.


Custom Tips

  • Keep key copies in the places that you’re at the most often. Have a car key copy at your house and at your workplace. This helps make it impossible for you to suffer a lockout at work or at home – it also helps if you’re on the road, but not far from either your home or your office.
  • Always give a close friend a spare key, as this is a great thing to do if you’re nearby that person’s home, and can save you the money or time it would take to attempt a DIY entry or call a locksmith.
  • Try wearing spare keys on your body – you can wear one as a necklace, integrating it into your favorite lightweight chain, or make sure that you keep it in a specific pocket. This ensures that even if you lose your original set of keys, that you’ll always have a spare set nearby your person.
  • Even if you have an electronic key fob, try opening your car manually every now and then to make sure it’s working correctly. By testing to see if the key is operating properly, you are eliminating the chances of getting locked out due to the combination of a low key fob battery and a slightly bent key (or in incidences of extreme temperature, the bulging or shrinking of the metal key.) This is especially important for owners of somewhat older vehicles that can suffer degradation of the internal lock mechanisms.


It’s always important to be prepared; with a backup plan you can get back on the road instantly, rather than be frustrated trying to figure out what to do. You never know when you’re going to suffer a lockout, but by following the tips that I illustrated in this article, getting locked out won’t cause you that much trouble, even when it happens.

Share Button

Cold Weather Lock Tips

There’s no doubt about it – this is one of the coldest winters on record. Although we’ve gotten the odd pleasant day, I’m sure you’ve all noticed the nighttime lows – whether there’s frost on your windows or not. Did you know that dropping mercury poses a serious risk to your lock performance as well?


As your local Maryland lock experts, we at Top Locksmiths always work hard to provide our customers with the most accurate information regarding your home, business, or automobile lock. Here’s our brief science briefing to explain the effects of super cold temperatures to locks. Thermal expansion is the term that describes the movements of the molecules inside any object due to temperature change. If a metal object is heated, it will expand because it’s internal molecules are moving, expanding away from each other. The opposite is also true. When an object is exposed to super cold temperatures, the molecules will gather closer together and eventually stop moving, causing the object to contract or shrink.


Because of the expansion and contraction of molecules, your locks may have been treated rough by the weather lately., You may have noticed locks sticking or posing trouble when you’re trying to turn them. Locks can freeze overnight (or on particularly cold days) because of any condensation or internal moisture. When this moisture freezes onto the tumbler, it can make it impossible to use a key inside the lock. You don’t want to try to force the lock open, because that’s likely to cause even more damage. You can call your trustworthy local Maryland locksmiths, who will be there in a jiffy to assist you, or you can try these tips:


  1. Use WD-40 or a de-icer to melt any ice around the lock. Spray in WD40 as a lubricant. Always be sure to have these items handy.
  2. Try using a lighter to heat up your key before putting it in the lock – don’t hold the flame directly onto it, but rather slightly below it. This might require a few attempts to work, but if it does it will melt any ice that’s sealed onto the lock tumblers.
  3. Try dipping your key in Vaseline and turning it in the lock – this might need some repeat attempts, but can be an excellent lubrication method on short term notice.
  4. You can pre-treat your locks with antifreeze to prevent it from being frozen in advance.
  5. Don’t ever pour hot water on a lock because it’s only going to increase the internal moisture already present and cause even more extreme freezing problems when the temperature drops in the future.

We hope that these tips serve you well in taking care of your locks during these winter months.


Share Button

Safety Barricades

Due to the macabre increase in school based invasions and shootings, there has been a national demand for schools to increase their security and safety features. A strifeful debate has emerged between parents who demand barricade devices should be placed inside schools and administrators who protest this addition. Barricades offer a fantastic secondary line of defense for schools or other institutions in the case of active shooters, and have the potential to save many lives if they are used correctly.


Barricades are available in many kinds of sizes and shapes – from compact locks that bolt directly into the floor to wide bars that run along the center of the door. These locks are made custom to be used in the event of crisis in order to protectively seal doors. For example, a barricade could bar a hinge from being able to expand, sealing the door shut, while another can insert heavy bolts into the ground, providing another layer of solid protection. Another design barricades across the entire doors center and bolts into the wall.


Some officials protest the wide installation of barricades in classrooms because they are afraid that they will be misused- with the argument that if used incorrectly, barricades could cause more negative than good impacts. The primary worry is that in the event of a fire or natural disaster, barricades could potentially trap people inside the building, preventing their ability to safely escape. Another possibility is the chance of an active shooter barricading themselves inside a locked classroom and causing more harm than they would be able to otherwise if the students weren’t barricaded inside.


Although these official concerns have valid logic, there’s no use in trying to imply that they trump the security benefits barricades add to students and workers inside schools – not to mention the psychological impact of barricades putting forward a sense of ease and security to both children and teachers who know that, in case there is a problem, they can simply stay in the classroom and be protected. What do you think?


Share Button