How to Repair Travel Case Combination Locks

Written by anne redler
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How to Repair Travel Case Combination Locks
Many travel cases have three- or four-digit combination locks. (combination padlock image by Pat Ager from

Travel cases are boxlike, handheld pieces of luggage that are often used to hold personal items such as toiletries, make-up or office work. Specialised travel cases are also available to carry golf accessories, wine or jewellery. Handheld travel cases often come equipped with a three- or four-number combination lock for added security. It can be a nightmare if the combination lock malfunctions on your journeys, but there are a few ways to troubleshoot common problems with travel case locks, whether they are built-in locks or separate locks with shackles.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Dry lubricant
  • Clean rag
  • Painting tape

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  1. 1

    Turn all the number dials on the combination lock, one at a time. Determine which ones are sticking. Check the top loop or shackle on the lock (if your travel case lock has a shackle) to see whether it sticks, by opening or closing the lock several times.

  2. 2

    Lubricate the number dials on the lock with a special dry lubricant (designed for locks) by pressing down on the spray-can applicator. This can be done on travel locks with shackles and on built-in combination locks. For built-in combination locks, cover the surrounding area with painting tape to protect the case surface before you spray the lubricant. If the shackle also sticks, apply lubricant to the base of the shackle when the lock is open.

  3. 3

    Wipe off any extra lubricant with a clean rag.

  4. 4

    Flip the number dials on the lock several times to work in the lubricant. Open and close the combination lock several times to also lubricate the shackle. If the travel lock is built in, simply close the lid of the travel case to lock it, then roll the numbers to the correct combination to open it. Repeat this several times to ensure that the lubricant you applied has been worked in.

  1. 1

    Reset the lock if you forgot or lost the combination. This can be done only on resettable combination lock models.

  2. 2

    Flip all of the number dials to "0."

  3. 3

    Pull out the top loop, or the shackle, from the lock.

  4. 4

    Turn the shackle counterclockwise for one half turn and hold it down.

  5. 5

    Flip the number dials to the new combination of your choice.

  6. 6

    Put the shackle back in the lock base and press it down until it clicks.

  7. 7

    Flip the numbers on your lock to hide your new combination.

Tips and warnings

  • If you forget or lose the combination for a built-in lock on your travel case, the locks are usually weak enough that you can slip a flathead screwdriver between the lid and case to pry open a locked case.
  • Do not use oil-based lubricant on a combination lock, as this could trap dust and jam the mechanism.
  • If you forget or lose the combination on a built-in travel lock, which is not resettable, you will need to have the lock replaced by the distributor or manufacturer.

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