Lock Picks Overview

When there is no key available, picking is a non-destructive method for providing access. Once a lock has been picked, the tumblers can be read in order to originate a key if all keys were no longer available. The lock can be disassembled and serviced...


Lock picking is the art of unlocking a lock mechanism by manipulating the tumblers/levers using specialized equipment without inflicting damage to the components. Most locks equipped with levers, pin tumblers, wafer tumblers and disc/disk tumblers can be picked. Most warded locks can be picked...


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Picking a tubular lock requires positioning the feelers so the pin tumblers align at the shear line. Most tubular picks are equipped with a steel or stainless steel barrel and spring steel feelers.

When attempting to pick automotive locks, depending upon the lock mechanism used by the vehicle manufacturer, conventional picks and turning tools may or may not work. For example, an early Ford equipped with pin tumbler locks can be picked using conventional picks. Ford vehicles equipped with the ten-cut or eight-cut wafer locks can be picked using conventional picks.

However, sidewinder type wafer tumbler locks generally pick much easier using specialized picking tools.

Specific application automotive picks include the high security two track and four track, external and internal wafer lock mechanisms. Instead of the key resting on the top or bottom ledge within the window of each wafer, the two and four track wafer tumblers have a tab that is used to move the wafer tumbler up or down to a specific depth of cut in the blade of the key. When the key is fully inserted, all of the tumblers align within the body of the plug, permitting rotation.

When picking, each wafer tumbler is moved by the pick to the appropriate depth of cut. The turning tool binds the tumblers in order to be picked. After all of the wafer tumblers are picked, the turning tool rotates the plug to unlock or operate the locking mechanism.

Important: It is not practical to pick all automotive locks. Some locks have thin wafers that can be damaged if too much pressure is exerted. Some vehicles have split tumblers that can move out of position when using different picking systems.

For example, Lexus locks equipped with split tumblers can have a problem when picked. The tumblers move out of position and must be returned to position in order to operate. For the Lexus vehicles it is probably better to obtain the code number and originate a key. The code number is stamped onto the housing of the passenger door lock. If no passenger door lock, the code will be on the driver’s door lock.

Most vehicle picks are designed for specific code series and lock applications such as the door or door and trunk locks. For example, one high security pick is designed for Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen high security locks. The Goso VW/Audi/Porsche pick is manufactured in China. This pick is designed for the high security lock mechanism in the following vehicles:

1998-on Volkswagen Beetle

1998-on Volkswagen Passat

1998-on Volkswagen Cabrio

1999-on Volkswagen Jetta

1999-on Volkswagen Golf/GTI

2004-on Volkswagen Touareg

2006-on Volkswagen EOS

1998-on Porsche Boxster

2003-on Porsche Cayenne

2003-on Cayman

1998-on Porsche 911

1997-on Audi A3

1997-on Audi A4/S4

1997-on Audi A6/S6

1997-on Audi A8/S8

2009 Audi Q5

2006-on Audi Q7

2000-on Audi TT

In addition, there is a Goso pick for BMW 2-Track pick equipped vehicles. Goso picks are sold through some locksmith distributors.

Another type of high security vehicle lock pick is the “High Security Flip Pick” manufactured by Lockmasters, Inc. The Flip Pick is a picking system developed specifically for high security locks manufactured by Huf. Although these locks are manufactured in several different keyways and applications, they all share a unique feature that enables this picking tool to work.

Because of spring tension on the door lock cylinders, these locks cannot be easily picked into the “unlocked” position, but they can be picked into the locked position. Once the lock has been picked, the plug spinner is used to “Flip” the lock to the unlocked position.

For each application there is a specific set-up tool that is essentially a key blank cut to a specific depth. The set-up tool is inserted into the lock to lift all of the tumblers to or above the shear line. Turning force is then applied to bind the tumblers that are above the shear line, and the set-up tool is removed. By gently varying the turning force by “jiggling” the turning tool, the tumblers that are trapped above the shear line will drop down to the shear line and allow the lock to turn. After the turning tool has been removed the plug spinner is then used to flip the lock to the unlocked position.

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