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How to Pick a Door Lock on a Car

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Muhammad Baballe Ahmad, Mehmet Cavas, Sudhir Chitnis, and Zhen-ya Liu.

✓ Verified & Tested Information

How to pick a door lock on a car? This is a question that we get asked a lot, and it’s one that we’re happy to answer.


Before attempting to pick a car door lock, it is important to take some basic steps to ensure that you are properly prepared. First, you should familiarize yourself with the technique of lock picking and the tools required. You should also invest in the right lock picks and lubricant that is designed to work with car door locks. Additionally, it is important to make sure that you are in a safe location and that you are not breaking any laws. Once you have done all of these steps, you can go ahead and begin the process of picking the door lock on your car.

Gather the necessary tools

Do-it-yourself car lock picking requires a few specialized tools. Unless you are experienced at safe cracking, this task is best suited to professionals. However, if you have experience with lock picking and have the right tools, it is possible to open the car door yourself. The most basic pieces of equipment include a tension wrench and a pick.

A tension wrench puts pressure on the pins inside the lock’s plug; this helps the pins move up so that a pick can slide underneath them and guide them into the correct position for unlocking. A tension wrench comes in various sizes and shapes so choose the one that fits your particular car’s type of lock.

A good quality pick will be able to feel out the keyway or gap in the locking mechanism and should feature some kind of stop shoulder so that it doesn’t slip too far into keyhole as you are working. A flat metal blade, often referred to as a “raking” tool is ideal for manipulating multiple pins at once but requires some practice before feeling comfortable using it on an actual door lock. A few additional items such as a pin tumbler kit with interchangeable picks may also be helpful when attempting to bypass certain locks.

Identify the Lock

When it comes to picking a door lock on a car, the first step is to identify the type of lock that is installed on the door. Knowing what kind of lock you are dealing with will help you make the correct selection of tools that you need to have on hand in order to pick it. Some of the most common types of lock found on cars include wafer locks, pin tumbler locks, and tubular locks. Let’s take a look at each of these types of locks and the tools needed to pick them.

Identify the type of lock

It is important to determine the type of lock you are working with when attempting to pick a door lock on a car. Automotive locks use different internals, so you won’t be able to employ the same technique for every model. Here are four common types of locks seen in modern vehicles.

Wafer type locks: Usually found on older, foreign-made cars and come in two varieties: single side wafer, which has one wafer per level and double side wafer which has two wafers per level. These locks can be picked quite easily by using tension tools.

Tubular lock: This is a tubular-shaped lock commonly used on motorcycle ignition systems and car steering column ignitions, but can also be found as interior door locks in some models. To pick these locks, you need to create pressure inside the cylinder with a tension tool while turning the keyway with a hook or half diamond pick.

Disc tumbler locks: These cylindrical shaped pins have discs instead of free pins that move up or down when the correct key is inserted. Tubular picks won’t work for this type of lock so you need injector or electric picks that forcefully move all the disc up at once when placed under tension from the corresponding key blank.

Laser cut keys/Smart keys: These keys have computer chips embedded within them which communicate with an onboard interface system known as PATS (Passive Anti-Theft System) found in many modern models including Fords and Chryslers etc.. Unlike other types of locks that rely on physical pins and wires, they require a specialized type of picking called code extraction where you extract the code from your chip using specialized tools such as decoding devices or scan tools depending on your car make/model etc..

Check for additional security features

The type of lock on your car door may have additional security features that could make it more difficult to pick. Some locks are designed with pins that have either fixed or cut angles; others have serrated pins, horizontal and vertical mug wafer locks, and more. Because of the number and variety of locks available, it’s important to identify the particular type of lock before attempting to pick it.

Before you begin, take a look at the design of your door’s lock from both sides. To determine what type of lock you have, look for any grooves or channels on the back side of the keyhole where arrows hit when a key is inserted. If an arrow hits two marks simultaneously along two channels when turning the key, then this is a double-sided Mug Wafer Lock; if just one channel is marked off by an arrow while unlocking with a key, then you likely have some combination of standard pin locks or serrated pin locks in place (e.g., standard 5 pin lock). Consult a knowledgeable auto-mechanic if further assistance is needed in identifying the specific commands of your particular car door’s lock.

Pick the Lock

Picking a door lock on a car is a skill that can come in handy in a number of situations. Whether you are locked out of your car or want to practice your lock-picking skills, learning how to pick a car door lock can be a useful skill. But how exactly do you go about picking a lock? Let’s talk about the best ways to pick a door lock on your car.

Insert the tension wrench

Inserting the tension wrench is the first step when learning how to pick a door lock on a car. To start allowing you to access the interior of the vehicle, this tool is inserted into the keyway on the car door. The keyway is the small hole at the base of the lock cylinder where a key traditionally would enter in order to open or lock a door.

When inserting your tension wrench, ensure it sits flush against all four sides of your keyway with no gaps in between.Applying pressure from one side of the wrench, apply clockwise pressure (right direction) if you are intending to open or unlock it and apply counter-clockwise pressure (left direction) if you are intending to become locked while using this method.If you’re feeling some resistance while turning your wrench, remember that much like any other type of lock-picking – slow and steady wins the race! Pay close attention as well to how smooth it feels as this can be an indication of whether you’ve aligned everything correctly or not.

Insert the pick

After you have inserted the tension wrench into the lower part of the keyhole, it is time to insert your pick into the upper portion of the lock. The lock pick should be placed into the lock and then slightly moved from side to side. This action will separate some of the pins within the lock and make them easier to manipulate. As you wiggle your pick around, use your tension wrench to lightly turn back and forth as this will allow for a better feel for how each pin is moving inside of the lock.

Many locksmiths find it helpful to think about how each pin moves in relation to a clock face as you work with your picks and torsion wrench. When a specific pin within the lock reaches its highest point, pause in turning and lightly press down so that it knows its resting place – this should happen at different points along what appears like an inverted number six on a clock face. Weighing down on each pin briefly after they reach their highest point can help them remain in place when it comes time to fully open your car door.

Manipulate the lock

Once you have the right tension on the tension wrench, you are ready to begin manipulating the lock. Insert your pick into the keyhole and feel for pins, there will be five or six of them. Apply pressure to the tension wrench with your thumb and begin moving each pin up one at a time. As each pin passes through the shear line it will allow you to move on to the next pin until all pins have cleared. Gently rotate the tension wrench in the appropriate direction until you hear a click, indicating that it has fully unlocked. If at any point during this process you encounter too much resistance, start over again. More pressure may cause additional pins to bind or could cause damage to your device if too much pressure is applied. Once all pins have been set correctly and a click is heard, your door lock is officially unlocked.


The troubleshooting process for picking a car door lock is critical. There are many different methods that can be used depending on the type of lock and the vehicle in question. This process can involve the use of tools like a tension wrench and a pick, as well as step-by-step instructions. Knowing what to do in certain situations can help prevent damage to the door lock and the car. Let’s take a closer look at how to troubleshoot when picking a car door lock.

Check for additional security features

Before attempting to pick a car door lock, it is important to check for additional security features installed by the car manufacturer. In some makes and models, there may be an internal security feature that can cause additional difficulty when attempting to unlock the door without a key. If there is an additional security feature present, it is important to contact your vehicle’s manufacturer or a locksmith for guidance on how best to proceed. Other common automotive door lock features include lock cylinders with multiple shear lines, tubular keys for difficult-to-reach locks, and anti-theft key codes that must be entered in order for the door to unlock. If any of these features are present on your vehicle’s lockset, they must be addressed prior to attempting any picking attempts.

Check for additional tools

When trying to unlock a car door without a key, you may need additional tools to complete the task. This could include lock picks, a bump key, or a Slim Jim. Depending on the make and model of car, you may also need some other small tools like screwdrivers or Allen wrenches. It is important to familiarize yourself with the type of locking mechanism on your vehicle in order to determine what tools are necessary for unlocking it. Additionally, if you are using lock picks make sure they are made from high-quality steel that will not bend or break while picking the lock. Additionally take into account that some vehicles require special locksmithing techniques because of their anti-theft features so it is best to consult with a professional if needed.

Try another lock picking method

If the shimming method fails to open your car door, then another lock picking method may be necessary. This requires you to use a locksmith’s cylinder pick, which is a specially-designed tool for picking tumbler locks.

To do this correctly, insert the pick into the hole on the top of the lock cylinder and press down on one side with your thumb while turning the other side with a pin or small screwdriver. This should cause some slight movement within the lock, which you’ll need to feel for in order to determine which tumblers have been moved or are blocking progress. Once you have identified these trouble points within the cylinder, turn your pick slightly in different directions while pushing it easier towards each of those blocks until they release. Do this one at a time until all of them are released and then turn your pick clockwise until it releases from its locked position – if done correctly, this will open up your car door!

How to Pick a Door Lock on a CarCheckout this video:

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