FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Top Ten:

Besides Answering FAQ, What services do you provide? We are a full service locksmith company. If you need it unlocked, need it to lock, or need the locks fixed, replaced, or set to fit a different key we can help. We have Automotive, Commercial and service for the Home.

Where is your locksmith shop in Chico CA located? We are a Mobile Service, so we come to and perform the work on site.

What does a locksmith cost? Cost is determined by the type and scope of the job. After Hours services usually cost a bit more as well. It’s best to give us a call at (530) 514-0252 to get a free estimate over the phone. If you are calling for service on a vehicle please have the Year, Make and Model available for an accurate quote.

I’m looking for a discount locksmith? We always try to work with our customers. We have Student, Senior & Military Discounts. We will match our competitors prices and we have a $5.00 discount if your mention our website.

My keys are locked inside my car (truck, house, safe etc…) can you help get them out? Yes, we have the ability to pick locks, make keys for the lock or use various lock bypass techniques to recover your keys.

I lost my keys, can you make new ones? Yes. This FAQ is something we hear almost every day. We can decode your locks and cut a key to match, or rekey the lock to fit a new key. If it is an automotive key we have the ability to un-program old keys (if applicable) and program new keys to your cars PCM/ECU/ECM computer (security system).

I need to let an employee go (or changing tenants in a rental) and I don’t want their key to work anymore, what can I do? We can come out to your home or office, removed the locks, take them to the van and removed the pins that match the old key, and replace them with pins that match a new key. We will re-install the old locks and issue the new keys that fit the old lock. This is more cost effective and more environmentally friendly than replacing the whole lock. The old keys will no longer work, and it only takes a little while.

I need an extra house (office) key cut, do you do that? We can duplicate most keys, even D.N.D. (Do Not Duplicate) keys, provided they are not government keys, and you are willing to sign our waver taking responsibility for having them copied. If you have an uncommon key we can usually order it and have it the next business day.

Are you a 24/7 Locksmith in Chico CA? We offer After Hours Service, please give us a call to schedule an appointment.

Are you a licensed locksmith? Yes we are! I wish this FAQ was asked more often. Please see our “Don’t Get Scammed” page. We are not only licensed, but we hold a California State Contractors license (Lic# 964099) specific to the locksmith trade. We are also Bonded and Insured. We also have a lot of great reviews from our customers as testimony to our great service. Thanks for asking.

FAQ Company Information:

Where can I bring my locks to get rekeyed? We are a mobile locksmith company located in beautiful Chico, California. We travel to areas all over Butte County and perform the required work right out of our service van on location. This keeps our overhead cots down, allowing us to maintain a reasonable profit, passing our savings on to you – our customers.

What is your address? Our shipping and mailing address is: 702 Mangrove Ave. #211 Chico CA 95926, But our office is mobile. Please call for an appointment. IF you wish to contact us, you can call (530) 414-0252 or visit our Contact page.

What is the best way to reach you or make an appointment for service? Give us a call at (530) 514-0252 and we can give you a quote over the phone, or set up an appointment for service. Our regular service hours are 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday, or for a small surcharge, we can set up an after hours or weekend appointment.

How long have you been in business? We founded our company in 2008 and started out part-time. We went full time in 2009 and have been growing ever since.

What type of experience do you have? We did an apprenticeship at a large locksmith shop in Chico for many years before starting our own company. We left with the blessing of our formal employer and continue to do contract work for that company as the need arises.

Are you licensed? Yes! We are licensed to do work in the State of California by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). Our license number is LOC 4632. We are also bonded and insured, and have a California Contractors License (#964099). For more information on licensed locksmiths see our “Don’t get scammed” page.

What type of locksmithing work do you do? We do all manners of lock repair, installation and service from automotive and residential to commercial and institutional. If you need a key, or a lock installed, repaired, or replaced, we have the tools and knowledge to get the job done. We can also change the keys that fit your lock so the keys that fit the lock now will no longer work and you will be issued a new key for your existing lock hardware. If a key is lost, we can cut a new key to fit your existing locks and we also program car keys and car remotes as well.

FAQ Locksmith Services FAQ:

I am locked out, what should I do? If you are not safe, get to a safe and well lit area then give us a call at (530) 514-0252. We will come out and unlock your car, house, business, room or whatever it is you are locked out of. The process is usually quick and does not harm the locks.

I lost my keys, what should I do? Just give us a call. We will come out to your car or house, decode your locks and cut you a new key to fit the locks. Automotive prices depend on year, make and model because some keys are easier to make than others, and some vehicles have transponder key systems while others have high security keys. We will be happy to give you a quote over the phone.

Why did my car keys stop working in my ignition? There are a few reasons, a worn out key, steering wheel lock jamming the key cylinder, or a failed ignition. We can help fix these problems and may times diagnose them right over the phone.

Does my car or truck have a chip in the key? Does your car key have a plastic head? Every single car maker that sells vehicles the USA (and some motorcycles) has at least one model that is equipped with a transponder security system. Some model years were equipped standard, while others were optional and some did not use them at all. The easiest way to tell is to ask a locksmith, or take your key to a locksmith and have them test it for a transponder signal. If your key does not have a plastic head, then it’s unlikely — but still possible — that it has a chip.

What is a transponder chip? In short, it is a micro-transponder chip embedded in the plastic head of your ignition key that is designed to help prevent against vehicle theft.

Why does my car’s key have a transponder? Years ago, insurance agencies went to the automotive industry and told them that something more had to be done to stop vehicle theft or they would no longer be able to insure vehicles at an affordable rate. V.A.T.S. (Vehicle Anti-Theft System) was one of the earliest forms of high security keys; now it is not uncommon to find high security car keys hanging off of most people’s key chains.

How do transponder chips work? Most operate like a challenge and password system. The car sends a numeric number via an electronic frequency to the transponder in the key. The transponder chip crunches the numbers with a mathematical algorithm and returns the value to the car. If the answer is correct, the car allows the user to start the car. If it is not correct, either the car will crank and not start, start than promptly cut off, or not crank at all depending on the model car and transponder system that is equipped.

Is it hard to get a copy of my transponder key? Nope. In most cases it is simple to clone a transponder key, though they are more expensive than a standard key. It is a much more secure key system designed to help protect your automobile from vehicle theft.

I want to change (or rekey) my locks — how does that work? Often people ask me if they have to buy new locks or if we just change their existing locks to work with a new key. It is more cost effective and environmentally friendly to modify your existing locks to fit a new key. This is done by removing your locks, taking them apart and removing the existing pins that match your existing key. Pins are changed to match a new key, and then the locks are put back together and re-installed on your door.

What does a locksmith do? There was a time when a locksmith was the guy who put locks on your doors and that was about it. The industry has changed and will continue to change as new technologies re-define our trade. Today’s locksmiths deal in not only your door’s locks, but all manner of security including safes, CCTV (Closed Caption Television), alarm systems, pool gates, access control, and the list goes on and on. Lock outs and rekeys are still a major source of revenue for many (if not most) locksmiths. In addition to lock repair and replacement, we are trained on fire codes, ADA requirements, and loss prevention.

I lost the combination to my safe, what can I do? Not being able to open a safe can be frustrating. Most locked safes can be opened without drilling by professional locksmiths and safe technicians. The methods can vary between different types of safes. We have the ability to open most safes, vaults, and other security containers but telling it here (on the public Internet) would not be wise, so let’s just say this: If you lose your combination, simply call a licensed and experienced locksmith (like All About Locks & Safes right here in Chico, CA) and we can come out, give you a free quote, and get your safe opened, serviced, and back in service in a reasonable amount of time.

Does my safe contain asbestos? Asbestos is still being mined and used in various places around the world, but the world is slowly turning away from the cancer causing material. It is possible your safe contains asbestos as a type of fire retardant. Around 1978, the USA started banning asbestos in construction, although builders were still allowed to use their existing stock of asbestos-containing materials. As a rule of thumb, if you see white powder coming from your safe you should contact a professional to assess the situation. If your safe was made in the last 20 years and bought in the USA, it likely does not contain asbestos, but if you suspect it does, don’t take chances — have it checked out to be sure.

I want to be a locksmithwhere do I start? Lots of people ask me this. There are trade schools that teach locksmith courses or you can do what I did: OJT (On- the-Job Training). I was taught by someone who was taught by someone who was. . . You get the picture. If you are interested in becoming a locksmith, I suggest you talk to locksmiths in your area. Locksmiths usually love being and talking about being locksmiths, and they can point you in the right direction or possibly work out an apprenticeship with you.

What is the meaning of life? 42, Ok, not your usual FAQ but I like it. According to one of my favorite books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. What does this have to do with the locksmith business? Not much unless you consider that I love what I do, and to me, doing what you love is a great way to express your own personal meaning of life.

What if I have a question that is not listed here? Just shoot me an e-mail. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, or you can contact us

FAQ Resource Information:

How does a safe lock work? Most safe locks operate the same way. There are usually 3 or 4 wheelsSafe wheels that turn. Each wheel has a gap missing from it and called a gate, and a lever called a fence. When the correct combo is entered, all the gates will be lined up under the fence allowing the fence to drop into the gates and the lock to be opened. To the right is a depiction of this basic design. We can not go into detail on a public forum about how safes work (for security reasons) but the basic design of most safes is no big secret. As they say, the devil is in the details.

How do a lock and key work? With modern day hardware in the western world (the US, for example)House Keys most locks are pin, tumbler, or wafer design. There are different size pins or wafers that correspond with the different cuts of a key. Example: Let’s take a look at a key that looks similar to our logo. (on the left). We can remove the pins/wafers in the lock, and replace them with different pins/wafers that match a different key. By doing this, the new key will turn the lock and the old key will not. Here is an actual photo of this process on a Kwikset cylinder. (On the right) The cylinder in the back has “the wrong key” inserted, and the cylinder in the front is pinned to properly match the key that has been inserted into the cylinder. This rekey process is useful when you have bought a house, fired an employee, or lost keys and you want to have “key control,” that is to say, you want to make sure no one else has keys to open your locks unless you personally give them a new key.

What is a Master System? A Master System refers to a way some locks can be pinned/keyed. It involves putting special master pins in a lock so that more than one key can operate that lock. (Please see the illustration, on the right. On top are two locks each pinned to its own key. Below is a single lock pinned to different keys.) There are many variations to the Master System that can be utilized in a variety of useful ways. These include: having several apartment buildings keyed differently, but having one master key that opens every lock; or setting up a laundry room door in an apartment building so each tenant’s unique key also unlocks the laundry room and other common areas.

master key system2master key system1





Are my locks up to “Fire Code”? This is a great FAQ. The best way to get an answer for that is to ask the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) in your area. For example, the Fire Marshal in your city. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if your locks are “one step egress.” That means, in layman’s terms, it only takes one action to unlock and open the door. The locks should also be easy and uncomplicated to operate.

Are my locks ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant? There are many rules for ADA and the best way to guard yourself from a lawsuit or fine is to have a professional look at your locks. Most licensed professionals will be happy to give you a free quote and security evaluation.

How do locksmiths make keys for locks when there are no keys to duplicate? Most of the time, to generate a new key for car or truck, it is much more affordable to the average driver to call a locksmith rather than go to a dealership. There are many techniques including impressioning a key on the lock, taking apart and decoding the lock, and looking up codes that may be stamped on the face or back of the lock. There are even tools that allow a locksmith to decode a lock without taking the lock apart. Each situation is different, and in the end the locksmith will have a new key, cut to factory specs, to match your existing lock.

How does a technician unlock my car or truck? Sometimes people ask me, “How do I unlock my car or truck when I am locked out?” The tool I choose often is dictated by the year, make and model of the vehicle we are unlocking. Most people are familiar with the classic Slim Jim tool and our long-reach tools. Other tools can pop under and around the windshield to unlock on the inside, from the outside, and in some cases we can pick the lock, or decode the lock and cut a key to unlock and open the door. Many of the invasive tools such as the Slim Jim and other linkage tools are falling out of favor with locksmiths as more and more cars are equipped with passenger and driver side air bags. With urban legends of tow truck drivers and locksmiths losing their lives by accidentally setting off airbags with tools that enter the door panel, it’s easy to understand why a roadside service technician might avoid those tools.

What are the different ways someone can defeat (open) a lock? There are 3 ways to defeat a lock: Controlled entry – this is achieved with a key, picking the lock or other method that opens the lock the way a key would. Forced entry – this is a destructive means of entry such as drilling a lock or using a crow bar. This is NOT recommended as it will damage the lock and/or other hardware and could seriously injure someone. Lock bypass – this is where the lock itself is bypassed to open the door. An example of this would be using a Slim Jim to unlock a car from inside the door panel, rather than using the lock cylinder.

Do you make keys for motorcycles and scooters? You bet we do. We have a large selection of the most common motorcycle keys, and can order just about every key ever made. It is not uncommon for us to travel to a customer’s location, decode their bike locks and cut a key to match. This process is quick (usually about an hour) and more cost effective than changing the locks. If you simply need a motorcycle key copied/duplicated, we do that too!

FAQ Urban Legends – Fact or Fiction?

Unlocking a car with a remote over the phone? Fiction (in most cases). Modern remotes use a frequency that is outside of a cell phone’s normal operating range.

“Snooping” a remotes signal to gain access? Fiction (in most cases). This myth involves a recording device that would snoop, or listen to your fob’s (remote’s) frequency as you unlock your car with the intent of using that recorded signal to later unlock your vehicle. The fact is, modern cars have fobs that use a rolling code, so if a device could record a “request to unlock” signal from your hands free controlled access device (remote), that code would be invalid because the car’s computer would have used it and moved on to a new code.

Death by Slim Jim? Unsubstantiated. An independent study (forgive me, I can’t recall the source at this time) could not find any police reports or news articles of actual deaths caused by setting off airbags with vehicle entry tools.

Opening a car door with a tennis ball? Fiction. As seen on Mythbusters, the viral video you my have seen is misleading and let me tell you, if a tennis ball could open a car door, I would certainly have one in my tool bag out in the van, but fortunately this trick does not work.

Using an ink pen to pick a lock? Fact, but I would like to see you try it! The videos on the internet use “prepared” locks, or at least poorly pinned locks (such as all #1 and #2 pins). The also use an older style of lock that is no longer on the market. Such picking vulnerabilities have been addressed by manufacturers as most security faults are when the lock manufacturers are made aware of the locks’ shortcomings.

Putting your ear to a safe and picking it open? Fact. This skill is still widely used among safe techs, but it is not quick and easy as Hollywood would have you believe. It is very time consuming and tedious. Personally I prefer using an auto dialer (see photo on the right, below). This nifty device allows us to recover lost safe combinations. Although we can put our ear to the safe and use sight, sound, and touch to decode a safe (known as Safe Manipulation), we often choose let this computer do the work for us.

Using a magnet to unlock a lock? Fact. In some very isolated cases, using a very large, strong, rare earth magnet, you can sometimes, with some locks (that are no longer in production) pull back the plunger on a solenoid to unlock a door. Of course, for security reasons, we can not go into detail about what locks, or how this lock defeat is performed, but trust me, 99.95% of the time you have nothing to worry about. You can read more about this in our Blog.

What about using explosives to open a safe? Not recommended. Sure, you can blow the door off a safe, you can even fill it with water, and if you can keep it from leaking long enough to load and detonate some ordnance, you can blow the door clean off, but don’t try it. Not only is it extremely dangerous, it will likely destroy the contents of the safe as well as the safe itself and just about anything else around it.

The lock that can not be picked/opened? False. A common saying among security professionals is this: “If it was made by man(kind), it can also be defeated by man(kind).” I have never heard of a lock that could not be defeated by one method or another

One master key that fits/opens every lock! True, and you already have the key. Ok, this answer is deceptive. You can’t go get or make a machinical key that will unlock any door. Key-ways are different sizes, shapes and there just isn’t one shape or pattern that will open every lock, BUT with Biometrics becoming more affordable and dependable all the time you could easily use your finger scan to open cars, houses, laptops, offices, you name it. One key (your finger print) that opens every lock. We blogged about this a while back so here is the link.

FAQ Education & Credentials:

Michael (Co-owner and Locksmith) has a degree in computer science and worked for another local locksmith company before starting AAL. He attends specialized training several times each year to continue expanding his locksmith skills in order to better serve our customers. Since 2010, some of the instructional documents and videos Michael has created were picked up for use by professional locksmith trainers. In 2011 and 2012, Michael was asked to teach a class to other locksmiths during one of the trade shows we attend each year.

Associations & Memberships:
Associations & Memberships

We are proud to support ALOA (Associated Locksmiths of America), California Locksmith Association, Chico Chamber of Commerce, and other community organizations.

All About Locks & Safes is Licensed, Bonded and Insured.

State Contractors License # 964099

Please Call (530) 514-0252 if you have any questions. Thank you.