Notes From The Editor: Faulty Products Recalled

April 16, 2014
In the past, locksmiths prospered by replacing faulty auto lever door handles, Mercury and Chrysler trunk locks and Ford Focus ignition locks, to name a few. Now the government requires a full recall for such issues.

At one time Curtis offered dozens of repair kits for automotive door locks. This was at the time when many cars used lever handles to open passenger and driver doors. Almost every car on the road required periodic replacement of the handle return spring. It took an hour to remove the inner hardware trim,  door upholstery and latch unit to access the broken spring.

Another engineering nightmare was Mercury trunk locks. A diecast part was supposed to unlock by sliding along a steel shaft when the trunk key was turned. About once a year the steel shaft rusted enough to prevent the diecast part from moving.  A great periodic repair job  for locksmiths.

Chrysler trunk locks were next on the list. Diecast T handles separated from their steel shafts. The handle would spin freely while the trunk remained locked. Chrysler later introduced a trunk lock cylinder with a very weak spring which held the tailpiece and returned the lock plug to the 12:00 position.   The tailpiece would often fall off and disconnect from the cylinder. In both cases the back seat had to be removed to access the broken trunk lock. 

In more modern times Ford Focus ignition locks were failing at an alarming rate. The lock manufacturer even provided free replacement ignition locks but locksmiths still had to figure out a way to remove the original lock.  Cha-ching.

Questionable engineering is not limited to automotive locks.  Segal once made cast bronze,  rim-mounted locksets which were a work of art. Bronze balls projected from the side of the deadbolt when the bolt was thrown.  Unfortunately one small hairspring held the deadbolt in a locked or unlocked position and that spring broke on a regular basis.       

The word 'recall' was rarely mentioned years ago.  Now, when only a handful of problems have been found out of the millions of vehicles made, our government steps in and requires a full recall.  GM has just issued a recall for millions of vehicles with ignition problems. A site on the internet shows that the switch, ignition lock and ignition key will all reportedly be replaced.

The GM ignition problem is usually only encountered when a driver has a heavy keyring of keys attached to the ignition key.   This is nothing like the old days when every Chrysler, Mercury or Focus had a lock problem which did happen.  While the GM ignition lock recall is out of our hands, other lock problems will surely continue to appear and keep us hopping.