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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

4 Door Lock Cylinder Replacement Insights From A Professional Locksmith

by Ralph July 7, 2021

Door lock cylinder replacement can be a great way to fix or improve your door lock without paying for a full set of new hardware. It exists as a nice middle ground between changing locks and having your locks rekeyed. To find out if door lock cylinder replacement is right for you, feel free to contact United Locksmith or read more.

The types of door lock cylinder replacement include:

  1. Bored Deadbolts
  2. Car Door Locks
  3. Euro Cylinders
  4. Mortise Locks


What is door lock cylinder replacement?

The cylinder of a lock can be changed without replacing all of the lock hardware. Often there is a keyed cylinder (where the key is inserted), which is kept in a lock housing. The cylinder can usually be replaced without changing the lock housing or bolt/latch assembly.

When do you need door lock cylinder replacement?

Door lock cylinder replacement is used to change out damaged cylinders, upgrade the security of a lock, and/or key several doors alike. The most important part of the process is to make sure that your replacement door lock cylinder fits your existing lock hardware.

Can you fix a door lock cylinder without replacing it?

Often, door lock cylinder replacement saves you from the cost and hassle of replacing the whole lock. However, if the lock cylinder itself is damaged, it may be repairable without being fully replaced. The repair will likely come in the form of cleaning, lubrication, or changing a broken cam/tailpiece. 

Can you replace a door lock cylinder without a key?

You do not need a key to replace your door lock. In some cases, the door will need to be opened in order to replace the cylinder, but there are many ways to open a door without a key. As long as you are able to deconstruct the lock, the cylinder should be removable. If the core of the cylinder needs to be rotated to be removed, lock picks can be used to turn the core.

Door Lock Cylinder Replacement vs. Rekeying

Rekeying and door lock cylinder replacement are more similar than you may initially expect. This is not as extreme as the difference between rekeying or replacing a lock, because door lock cylinder replacement only changes a portion of the lock hardware. With rekeying, you are also performing a targeted partial replacement of the lock internals.

Door lock cylinder replacement and rekeying are both effective ways to change which key works in a particular lock without being too invasive. The main difference between door lock cylinder replacement and rekeying is that rekeying does not fix any problems with the lock. If a component within the cylinder is broken, rekeying is incapable of remedying the breakage.

Though the cost of rekeying a lock is indeed less than the door lock cylinder replacement cost, it is because you are replacing more material. If you can get away with a simple lock rekey, that is ideal, but a door lock cylinder replacement is often cheaper and in some cases preferable to changing door locks altogether.

Key Takeaways:

  • Door lock cylinder replacement is similar but more extensive than rekeying. 
  • Replacing a door lock cylinder can solve problems with a malfunctioning lock.
  • Rekeying is less expensive than cylinder replacement because less material is changed.

Types Of Door Lock Cylinder Replacement

There are many different types of commonly used door locks, each of which needs special considerations for door lock cylinder replacement. Due to the construction of these various door locks, they present special challenges and require unique servicing. Specialty door lock cylinder replacement may offer certain complications or simplify the process depending on the lock type.

1. Bored Deadbolts

Door lock cylinder replacement usually deals with bored deadbolts, which fit into a large circular cut on the face of the door with a perpendicular cross-bore hole for the bolt. This is the type of door lock you are going to find on most residential properties, including apartment doors. The biggest concern for this type of door lock cylinder replacement is size and fit.

Most bored deadbolts are inexpensive and rarely undergo partial replacement because they are so cheap to replace. However, door lock cylinder replacement is relatively straightforward. Once you take the lock off the door, the cylinder will slide free from the housing. Inspect the size of your existing cylinder and match the shape and tailpiece to the replacement cylinder.

The cylinders for these locks are not often sold separately from the full lock assembly, but locksmiths will have these parts. The cylinder as a single piece is cylindrical with a rectangular flag shape on one side of the curved length and a tailpiece opposite the keyway. Do not mistake a mortise door lock replacement cylinder for a bored deadbolt cylinder.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bored deadbolts are the most common type of residential door lock.
  • These lock’s low cost make full replacement more likely than cylinder replacement.
  • If replacement cylinders are unavailable from retail vendors, contact a locksmith.

2. Car Door Lock Cylinders

In some cases, you are not looking to change a house door lock cylinder, but rather a car door lock cylinder. Car door lock cylinder replacement is a bit more complicated in terms of buying parts and installation. The simplest way to go about this type of door lock cylinder replacement is to contact an automotive locksmith.

The difficulty of replacing a car door lock cylinder stems from the lack of standardization between various automobiles. First, you will need to take off the door’s side paneling, which will vary in difficulty between vehicles. Then there is the risk of damaging the car by harming the internal wiring in the door. These wires may be extremely important to airbag functionality, etc.

Car door lock cylinder replacement comes in handy after an ignition cylinder replacement when the door locks need to be updated to open with the new ignition key. Rekeying may be a better solution, but it is not always an option for every vehicle depending on the availability of parts. Other than changes for convenience, this may fix your broken car lock.

Key Takeaways:

  • Car door lock cylinder replacement is best done by a professional auto locksmith.
  • Servicing a car door lock creates the opportunity for damaging the vehicle’s wiring.
  • Change cylinders to fix a broken lock or to key several locks the same.

3. Euro Cylinders

In the case of a euro cylinder, a door lock cylinder replacement is the same as changing the lock. There is no distinction between the euro cylinder and the internal lock cylinder because they are not separate parts. You can remove the lock core from a euro cylinder for the purposes of rekeying, but this is not the same as being able to remove the cylinder. 

When you look at a euro cylinder, you will see that it has the same overall shape of a bored deadbolt cylinder (a long cylinder with a rectangular flag shape along the shaft). It has the same appearance because it is just a cylinder without a secondary housing. There is no way to partially replace this type of lock unless it is part of a mortise lock.

If the issue you are addressing has resulted from a problem with the lock internals, these can be replaced partially, as needed. But when the damage is too extensive, everything must go. Removing the lock core will only address the key pins and not the drivers or springs. Door lock cylinder replacement changes the driver pins, springs, and key pins, not just the key pins.

Key Takeaways:

  • A euro cylinder is a lock cylinder without a housing or fitted assembly.
  • There is no way to replace a euro cylinder’s cylinder without replacing the entire lock.
  • The only options are full replacement, rekeying, and repair.

4. Mortise Cylinders

A mortise lock offers one of the simplest door lock cylinder replacement processes around. Because these locks are designed for commercial settings, the hardware is meant to be hardier than the keyed cylinder. So instead of a full commercial door lock replacement, you can quickly remove and replace just the keyed cylinder.

The lock cylinder can be removed and changed without removing the lock body from the door. The lock body of this lock is placed in a rectangular pocket cut into the door, with a cylinder secured to the hardware with a set screw. This set screw is accessible when the door is open. As long as you can open your door, door lock cylinder replacement is easy.

You can identify a mortise lock as distinct from a standard bored deadbolt by opening the door and looking at the retracting bolt or latch. If this bolt/latch is secured into the door with a long rectangular strip of metal, it is a mortise lock. If the bolt is secured by a piece of metal that barely extends half an inch below and above, it is a bored deadbolt.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mortise locks are built for easy door lock cylinder replacement.
  • The lock body is designed to outlast the keyed cylinders.
  • Mortise locks are one of the most common types of commercial door locks.

Closing Thoughts 

Now you know more about what door lock cylinder replacement is, the limitations, and the benefits. With that knowledge and information on the most common types of locks you will be looking to replace, you should have all you need to get the best service possible. Just remember not to sacrifice security for a cheaper lock, and not to damage your security by not hiring the right professional locksmith.

Category: Automotive, Commercial, Residential

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