Rekeying a Civic door cylinder

The locks on both of my front doors on my 2003 Honda Civic EX became frozen or jammed a couple years ago. The remote hasn’t worked since I bought the car. I’ve just been leaving it unlocked, but recently some minor things were stolen out of it.
I’d like to have the locks working again (that is, the doors unlockable from the outside w/o crawling through the trunk.)

  • The local repair shop quotes $125/door but the key would be different.
  • I see I can buy new cylinders for $35/ea +shipping, but the key would be different.
  • A locksmith I talked to said he could rekey a door cylinder, but I’d have to find one which isn’t assembled (not his exact words - I don’t remember what he called it) with a pinning kit.

I don’t mind trying to put in a a door lock cylinder myself, but I don’t want 3 keys (one for the doors, one for the trunk, one for the ignition which was recently replaced for the same issue). Should another locksmith be able to do this without me finding the pinning kit? Is there a better, relatively inexpensive way to get the results I want?

(Edit: Please excuse the username. The forum gave me troubles signing up and also insists I have a Ferrari -.-)

Have you tried a heavy dose of something like this?

If you already have, I’d give up on trying to match the keys, live with a 3rd one. Or rekey the hatch at the same time so you have only two keys.

I would go so far as to advise you to actually remove the locks and clean and dowse them down with a cleaner (I would use carb cleaner,) and then WD-40, and finish them off with the 3in1 Dry Lock Lube. When you are finished, whether you remove the locks or not, make sure the windows are down so you do not accidentally lock yourself out…

Opening up a door is a lot less daunting a task than one might think, Go to YouTube and watch a video or two. You might also find removing and reinstalling the door handles if you need to if you buy the door trim and clip kits at your favorite tool supplier (Harbor Freight???). The cost of these tools, the cleaner, the lubricant, and the price of taking the wife out for a steak dinner is less than the cost of a locksmith…

And if you are in the “northern frontier,” where you received freezing rain, I would wipe the hatch/trunk and door rubber seals down with WD-40. I have found it prevents the doors from freezing shut.

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I do believe a locksmith could change the tumblers on new cylinders to match the existing key, but maybe not. I’ve had it done on house locks before several times.

Now what I did on one car trying to free up the tumblers after taking the cylinder out, was just eliminate one of the tumblers that were too far gone to get working again. It just meant someone trying to pick the lock would only have to deal with four instead of five tumblers. The original key would still work, just didn’t need that portion of the key. In fact you could eliminate all of them except one and still use the key and have it lock. The work is taking the lock out and apart to get to the cylinder. Can’t comment on why the remote doesn’t work. Does it try to activate the solenoid or not?

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That’s sort of a surprising comment to hear from a pro locksmith. You’re the paying customer and you want the locks rekeyed by a pro locksmith. Not rocket science. Seems like the locksmith should not be handing out tasks for you to do. Unless you’ve said you’re willing to do extra to help the locksmith, in return for a reduced fee.

If you plan to remove the cylinders anyway, might as well try giving them a good bench- lube while they are out, might get them working again, and with the original key. If that doesn’t seem to work, you can take them apart, may find something inside just needs a little filing. Be aware that removing the lock cylinders from the car (which may require removing the entire handle ass’y from the door) may be nearly impossible without breaking something inside the door on a car that age. Whatever you break can almost certainly be fixed, but makes the job more time consuming. Unless you have a lot of spare time and/or enjoy to experiment, suggest to hire the entire job out to a pro locksmith.

I think you’re correct

When you order a Ford door lock cylinder, it typically comes unassembled, so you literally have to match it to your existing key

I’ve done it myself a few times over the years, and while it’s not exactly fun, it can be done, assuming you’re not blind as a bat and don’t have butter fingers

Therefore, I see no particular reason why a good and experienced locksmith wouldn’t be able to do it

That said, the locksmith may believe the existing key is worn out and perhaps doesn’t want to code the new lock cylinder(s) to a worn key . . . ?

OK, here are some YouTube Videos, to show you how to fix the locks, how to replace the locks, and even how to get at the locks… Remember, when you loosen the door’s inner panel there are probably wires to locks, windows, etc… that you may have to really bend down to unfasten before just pulling the panel away…

I still think that unless the locks are physically damaged or vandalized (super-glued, etc…), you should be able to service them as I wrote earlier…

Good Luck!

Thanks very much for the advice, all of you. I’ll try removing and cleaning the cylinders this weekend and let you know whether I need more help.

And please post a picture of your key . . . it might very well be worn out

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The problem turned out to be the cylinder: on the driver’s side one pin wouldn’t retract and on the passenger side it was two. I knew the key wasn’t the problem because I have a second one in better condition which didn’t work either.

For anyone in the future with a similar problem:
Here’s the video I followed to get the lock out:
The differences in my experience:

  • I found it unhelpful to unplug the battery at the beginning because I didn’t know how far to roll down the automatic window to access the bolts to remove it.
  • My hand is skinny enough I did not have to unbolt the window track to access the rod that goes to the lock inside the door.
  • I had to remove the white plastic piece in the photo to get to one of the nuts on the door handle.
  • I didn’t have a clip puller, so to pull the clip I made my own clip puller from a tent peg.
  • I didn’t notice a critical reassembly instruction in the video: also remove the handle and put the clip back on the handle before putting to back in the door!
  • And finally: I had to remove the plastic triangle that covers the side mirror wiring in order to put the door panel back on.

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Thanks for the update. Did you replace both key cylinders with new parts?

BTW, good job. I’m surprised you were able to get the cylinder removed without breaking one of those plastic clips inside the door that holds the linkages. When i did a similar job I had to use JB Weld to repair one clip that broke.

Like I said, I just eliminated the non functioning tumbler. No one except a pro trying to pick the lock would ever know the difference. Annual lock maintenance is recommended.

When I did it, I filed the top of the tumblers (w/Dremmel tool) so they lined up better. I think I had to insert the key into the lock, maybe had to remove some sort of holding clip, then I could pull the innards with the key entirely out of the housing to access the top of the tumblers. As long as I didn’t remove the key it all stayed together.