I want to replace an old deadbolt and handle on my front door, and most of the replacement sets at big-box home improvement stores are the easy-rekey kind. Kwikset's SmartKey seems better executed than Schlage's SecureKey, because you can rekeyable it yourself without having to cut a special key. An employee at Lowe's said Schlage is discontinuing this feature altogether, so I think it's best to avoid those.

My concern is that I've seen lots of discussion online about these Kwikset locks being unreliable. Some people say they are easily picked, and some say the locks spontaneously rekey themselves and leave people locked out.

Is it worth buying one of these locks, or am I better off with a "standard" lock? I don't especially care about being able to rekey the lock myself, I just want a good quality lock that I can install myself.

  • Personally, the only reason I'd want to rekey a lock is if I have lots of doors and want them to all use the same key. Otherwise, for changing the key (e.g. lost key or changing renters) my preferred solution is to have multiple spare locksets and just swap them out. This works best if your a landlord with multiple properties and move the locks around to unknown locations. – BMitch Oct 30 '11 at 13:25

I think you answered your own question... "I don't especially care about being able to rekey the lock myself". If you don't want this feature, don't pay for it. Pick up a good sturdy lock from a trusted manufacturer, that has the features you want.

If you want to use the same key for all the doors in your house, you may be better off buying new locks for all the doors. Most hardware stores carry sets of locks; where you'll get 2 knobs and 2 dead bolts that all use the same key, so you can set up 2 doors to use the same key. You may be able to get sets for more than 2 doors, but they might prove more difficult to find.

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    Thanks for the response on that. Really what I'm wondering is whether other people have used these easy-rekey locks and had good results, because I'm having a hard time finding good quality locks that don't offer this feature. – Charlie Nov 1 '11 at 20:15
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    At the big box stores, there was almost no selection beyond these types. – Kris K. Nov 18 '11 at 21:56

I finally went to the local locksmith shop and talked with them about this. They do sell the Kwikset SmartKey locks, but the person I talked to said he did not recommend buying them.

He did say that they work reasonably well as long as you use a factory-cut key when rekeying them, where "factory cut" (I may have the term wrong) means a key cut according to a code rather than duplicating an existing key. However, even with that caveat he advised staying away from these locks.

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    I would definitely be sceptical about a locksmith's opinion on these keys, since they do take away a job that a locksmith has traditionally performed. – gregmac Nov 18 '11 at 20:50
  • Indeed, that's a good point. I would have felt much more skeptical had I not already been reading lots of complaints online about them. Also, they rekeyed the locks I ultimately bought at no charge, so I'm inclined to take their input at face value. – Charlie Nov 20 '11 at 0:55

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