Ready to foray into picking car locks? To do so you’ll need the right tools. The tools for auto lockpicking are pretty diverse. There are many things to consider before purchasing. First, you’ll need to take your current skill level into account. And remember, follow the rules of lockpicking and steer clear from illegal activity.


About Car Locks

Car locks consist of two categories mostly: car door lock cylinders and trunk locks. Car ignition cylinders aren’t picked often due to electronic lock protocols that protect the lock. Exterior car locks aren’t usually as secure as this. The most common styles of locks on cars are wafer locks and slider locks. These locks cannot be bumped, which is why lock bumping does not work on cars. Quality is almost always sacrificed for quantity with car locks. There are just so many cars being mass-produced 24/7. Car security usually relies on electronic features like alarms.

What Are You Picking?

Before you try your hand at picking a car lock, you’ll need to know what kind of lock you’re picking. This will give you a better sense of how to proceed.

Wafer Locks

Wafer locks have internal mechanisms that either need to be depressed or elevated in order for them to open. This is a very popular type of door lock. This is pretty much the go-to cylinder for most mid-priced model cars. 

Slider Locks

Slider keys are used on cars that utilize keyless entry fobs but still feature traditional lock cylinders. The key has a rectangular shape, perfect for sliding into the key fob or remote. These keys are concealed easier and found more often with higher-end and luxury car models.

Disk Detainers Locks

Disk detainer locks are a rare sight on cars. They were once integrated on Ford cars, but are now a staple choice for the Jaguar brand. The key profile for disk detainer locks on cars is different than the ones used in padlocks and on house doors.

Pin Tumbler Locks

Old classic cars have a traditional pin and tumbler lock system, and the keys resemble single wafer car lock keys. It’s rare to see this lock system in use as wafer lock technology quickly took over early in the history of auto assembly.

What Is Your Skill Level?

Determining your skill level is the first step you need to take before you begin picking locks. What skill level do you aspire towards? Some lock picking information and resources are only available to certified locksmiths, so take this into consideration when you decide how to proceed.

Professional vs. Hobbyist

A hobbyist enjoys lock picking for the sport of it. They have no problem taking the time to figure out a lock while enjoying the process. Professionals, on the other hand, are often looking for fast, consistent and dependable results when lock picking.


Professionals should look for toolsets with key profile picks that come in a variety of styles. You can buy sets that come with profiles for each car manufacturer. A professional should also consider investing in a decoder tool. Decoder picks can be used to figure out the depths used to cut a key.


A hobbyist is free to explore and learn about whatever form of lock picking they desire. This means you can choose whatever auto lock pick set fits your fancy. Feel free to take your time learning about different lock cylinders, as well as single pin picking (SPP) techniques.

What You Need In Your First Auto Lock Pick Set

There are some basic lock picking tools that every beginner could benefit from having. You may not need all of them, but they’re good to have around. A professional on the other hand should be well versed with every single one of these tools and their functions.

1. Single Pin Picks

Single pin picks are your most versatile lock-picking companion. Using one, you can move each component of the lock separately. For automotive picking, a standard hook is a great tool to have, as it can manipulate wafer locks and slider locks. Even the rare automotive pin and tumbler lock will accessible.

2. Decoders

Carlock decoders are popularly used for wafer locks and car disk detainers. Decoders are picking tools that are easy to understand, and great for teaching about the insides of an automotive lock. Even under professional pressure, a decoder can make quick work of an automotive lock.

3. Key Profile Picks

There are a few different types of key profile picks. Jiggle keys are popular and are also known as auto jigglers, among other names. These keys will work on some car wafer locks, as well as bypassing basic motorcycle security. Jiggle keys can be used to start a vehicle, but they can damage the lock easily in the process. Rocker picks have an even wider variety of profiles than jiggle keys. Rockers are made of thicker material and don’t always require the use of an additional tensioning tool. Tryout keys are another choice, but they are simply keys rather than a specialized tool. You just insert a tryout key into the lock and turn. If it doesn’t work you cycle through every other tryout key until something gives.

4. Tension Tools

Some tensioning tools are made specifically for car locks. Tensioning tools are not always used to pick car locks. Their use is optional with key profile picks like rockers and jugglers. When doing single pin picking, the use of a tension tool can help preserve your picks longevity. Decoder tools don’t require the use of a tension tool for the most part. As for tension wrenches, any wrench can do the job – it doesn’t need to be an automotive tension wrench specifically. The tool just needs some grip and the girth necessary to fit in a car lock’s wider keyway.


When you learn more about car locks and how they work, you’re better equipped to come picking time. There still is more to take into consideration though. Your overall skill level regarding lock picking will determine which car locks you should start out with. Whether you want automotive picking to be a profession or a hobby will determine where you start and end up in this field.


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