How To Rekey A Kwikset Smart Key Lock Without The Original Key

Kwikset Smart Key locks are smart, fashionable devices that provide homeowners with an easy way to lock their doors. But, if you're a forgetful homeowner like myself, you may have misplaced or lost your original key. Follow along as we explore the two solutions for when you lose your Kwikset Smart Key lock's key.

How to Rekey a Kwikset Smart Key Lock Without the Original Key

Kwikset Smart Key locks are wonders of innovation.  It is no longer necessary to call a locksmith to rekey your door locks.  Insert the old key, turn the old key to the proper position, and insert the new key to rekey the lock.  But how do you rekey a Kwikset lock if you have lost the original key?

There are two solutions to this problem.  Hire a locksmith to rekey the Kwikset Smart Lock or disassemble the lock yourself and follow a few simple instructions to rekey the Kwikset Smart Key Lock even if you don’t have the original key.

The steps to rekeying your Kwikset Smart Key Lock are easy enough that almost any homeowner can have their new keys working in a matter of minutes.  If you have lost the original key to your Kwikset Smart Key Lock, following our instructions should solve your problem.

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Understanding the Kwikset Smart Key Lock

Before starting to disassemble your Kwikset Smart Key Lock, it is a good idea to understand the parts and the operation of the lock.

How the Smart Key Feature Works

The original key (working key) is inserted into the lock to rekey a Kwikset Mart Key Lock.  Turning the key 90 degrees allows you to insert the Smart Key into the small hole in the face of the lock.  With the Smart Key in the lock, you can remove the working key from the lock and insert the new key.  Your Kwikset Smart Lock is now rekeyed and ready for use.

Without the working key, you can’t turn the cylinder to the 90-degree position.  You cannot use the Smart Key to rekey the lock.  The only alternative is to disassemble the lock and perform a manual rekey.

The Parts You Will Encounter in the Lock

You should know the Kwikset Smart Key Lock’s basic parts that we will find when we disassemble the lock mechanism.  These basic parts are:

  • The cylinder housing that holds the cylinder in the door mechanism
  • The cylinder core holds the cylinder plug
  • The cylinder plug contains the wafers that provide the locking mechanism
  • Wafers are small thin levers that actuate the locking system.

Rekeying your Kwikset Smart Key Lock with No Working Key

Before you start, it is important to be prepared to work with small parts that fit into tiny places.  We suggest that you have

  • a workspace such as a table or a bench with a clean top.
  • You should set up good lighting for the immediate work area. A small tabletop desk lamp is a good choice.
  • A magnifying glass that allows you to work with both hands.
  • Have a pair of tweezers or another small instrument to manipulate the lock parts.

Once you have your workspace and tools ready, it is time to rekey your lock.

Step 1 – Remove the Locks from the Door

You do this by removing the two screws that hold the outer and inner lock assemblies together.  If your lock has keys slots on both sides, you must rekey both sets of mechanisms. Rekeying both cylinders will ensure the new key will work on the inside and the outside.

Step 2 – Freeing the Cylinder from the Housing

The lock cylinder of your Kwikset Smart Key Lock should slip from the housing.  Set the housing aside and examine the cylinder core.  The cylinder core is held in the lock housing by a small retaining clip.  The retaining clip slides to one side to release the lock cylinder.  A small flat head screwdriver is the tool of choice at this point.

Step 3 – Pull the Lock Cylinder out of the Housing

Carefully pull the lock cylinder from the housing.  Set the housing aside and examine the lock cylinder.  On one end, you should see a small retainer clip that holds the cylinder plug in the lock cylinder. Removing this retaining clip without damage is probably the hardest part of the project.

There are special tools that make this job easier. You can accomplish the same thing with two flathead screwdrivers and some patience.  You may need help to hold the lock cylinder while you manipulate the screwdrivers.

Set the retaining clip aside.  You will need it later to reassemble the lock.

Step 4 – Remove the Plug from the Lock Cylinder

To successfully remove the plug, you must align the wafers with the shear points.  The easiest way to accomplish this task is to use a lock pick to manipulate the plug’s wafers. However, any small tool thin enough to fit inside the keyhole will work.

Push on the plug gently as you use your tool to manipulate the wafers up and down.  Getting the wafers aligned may seem difficult at first. Be patient.  As you work, it will get easier.  When all the wafers line up with the shear points, the plug should slip easily from the core.

Step 5 – Before you Pull the Plug Completely Out of the Core

The plug has two pieces. As soon as they are free of the core, the pieces will try to separate.  Hold the plug so that the two pieces don’t separate.  If the plug separates, the internal parts will come free.  You want to avoid this if possible.

Step 6 – Find the Reset Tab and Align the Wafers

The challenge here is to find the wafer alignment that allows you to pull the reset tab.  Finding the right alignment may take a few tries. Eventually, you can find the alignment that allows you to pull the reset tab into position.  Hold the reset tab out when you have the alignment correct.

Step 7 – Insert the New Key

It is time to insert your new key in the keyway.  DO this while holding the reset tap out.  When the new key is fully inserted into the plug, release the reset key. Your Kwikset Smart Key Lock is rekeyed and ready to go back to work.

Step 8 – Reassemble the lock

Reassemble the lock in the reverse order you took it apart.  Remember to keep the plug together and not let the two parts slip.  Once the plug is back in the core, you can reinstall the lock on your door.

Another Option for Key Resets

If disassembling your Kwikset Smart Key Lock to reset to a new key doesn’t appeal to you, there is another possibility.  Kwikset makes a Smart Key Reset Cradle that can be purchased from locksmiths or on the internet.

You must still remove the Smart Key Lock core from the housing but instead of disassembling it further, you put the core into the cradle.  The cradle will instantly reset the cylinder to the position to learn a new key.

The reset cradle is handy for landlords with many locks that require frequent rekeying as tenants change and don’t return the keys.  The reset cradle is relatively inexpensive and does the job of rekeying a Kwikset Smart Key Lock quickly and easily.

You can check the price and availability of the Kwikset Smart Key Lock reset cradle on Amazon at this link.

Kwikset Smart Key Locks – The Pros and the Cons

The Kwikset Smart Lock system is unique in its ability to be rekeyed without disassembling the lock or installing a new cylinder or core.  However, this ability comes with some advantages and some disadvantages.  These pros and cons may affect your decision to install a Kwikset Smart Key Lock.

The Pros

  • The Kwikset Smart Key design uses wafers to interact with a sidebar. This design protects lockpicking and key bumping.
  • The ability to rekey a Smart Key Lock without disassembly is a major convenience.
  • You can accomplish rekeying without the need for a locksmith

The Cons

  • Kwikset Smart Key Locks are vulnerable to other methods of attack
  • The design and manufacture of the Smart Key Lock limit the possible key cut combinations to 243 different keys.
  • If you don’t have the working key, rekeying a Kwikset Smart Key Lock still requires the lock to be disassembled.
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In the End, All is Not Lost

The loss of the working key for your Kwikset Smart Key Lock is not the end of the world.  You don’t need to call the locksmith and pay a huge service bill.  With a little patience and by following some simple instructions, you can rekey your Kwikset lock

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Dennis Howard

Dennis is a retired firefighter with an extensive background in construction, home improvement, and remodeling. He worked in the trades part-time while serving as an active firefighter. On his retirement, he started a remodeling and home repair business, which he ran for several years.

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