How to rekey an ignition lock

Written by tammy bronson
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How to rekey an ignition lock
Any ignition lock can be rekeyed. (lock image by Alison Bowden from

Every lock has a duplicate key to it somewhere. For security purposes, rekeying an ignition lock is sometimes cheaper than having a locksmith install a new lock. Rekeying doesn't replace the lock; it changes the tumbler set inside the lock to accept a new key with a different cut pattern. The change in tumblers requires moving them within the lock. The process is simple, but working on such small mechanisms takes patience and a steady hand.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Small screwdriver set
  • Magnifying glass (optional)
  • New key

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  1. 1

    Grip the steering column and feel for the screws that hold the plastic protective shield together. Unscrew all clamps and screws, and pull the protective shield off the steering column. Unscrew the ignition switch, and pull the ignition lock out of the switch housing.

  2. 2

    Insert the old key into the ignition lock. When you pull the key out, the centre piece of the ignition lock will separate from the solid outer ring. If the centrepiece isn't coming out, turn the key a little bit until it grabs the centre piece and you can pull it out. Remove the outer rings, and with a small screwdriver remove the cover plate on the tumbler.

  3. 3

    Look for small springs under the cover plate. Use the screwdriver to remove the springs, and set them aside; they'll need to be reinstalled later. You can now see the tumblers in position to match your key.

  4. 4

    Lift the two bars holding the tumblers in place and remove the key and any other springs in the ignition lock.

  5. 5

    Pick one tumbler out at a time with the screwdriver, front to back. Insert a new key into the ignition lock and match the tumblers up to fit the key. Put the springs back in place, insert the centrepiece and rings, and screw the cover plate back on.

    Put the lock back into the switch and reattach it to the steering column. Screw the steering column plastic shield back together.

Tips and warnings

  • If you lose a spring or a tumbler, simply buy a new lock.
  • If the vehicle's doors are powered electrically, make sure they're all unlocked, because while the ignition switch is disconnected you can't lock or unlock them.

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