The Winter is coming! The Winter is coming!
No need to be alarmed, I hope.
With the onset of Winter, come unique problems that can affect your locks on your home and your car.
Because of the climate in the South, with all the humidity which can make outdoor activities down right miserable on our 98° days (and sometimes nights). In the Winter, when temperatures dip below freezing, the water in the air, as it condenses on surfaces, freezes as well.
Because most of our locks are exposed to the outside air, the humidity enters them, usually via the keyway, on a constant basis. As it cools, it condenses into a microscopic layer over the pins and springs inside your lock.
This, then freezes, effectively “locking” your lock, by freezing the springs and pins in place. For some unknown cosmic reason, this tends to happen just when you get home from work, it’s dark out, and you have just spent hour crawling through Rush Hour traffic. Not fun.
Sometimes while out shopping, in the lot at work, in just driving, or even in your own driveway – you will encounter, rain, puddles, splashes and even snow cast off from a snowplow. Although, if last Winter is any yardstick, a snowplow may NEVER come your way. Even melting and re-freezing ice can be a problem.
These can have the effect of forcing water, sometimes under pressure, inside your vehicle locks. The mercury drops and then, you have an icy mess inside your lock.
This problem crops up more often in older vehicles. Auto locks generally have a spring-loaded dust shutter over the keyway, it is designed specifically to keep dust and moisture out. Older vehicles, with locks which have seen a lot of use, may lose a small amount of ‘spring integrity’. The spring might be weakened, broken or in any case, just loose enough to allow water to enter the lock.
Some Preventative Maintenance is in order. My favorite Stand-By and Go-To solution happens to be – Good Ol WD-40®. (see the post “Lubrication: A Little Dab’ll Do Ya”) WD-40® is a lubricant, a cleaner AND, it repels water.
Almost everybody has a can laying around in a drawer, a closet or out in the garage. It’s a good solution and readily available. So here’s how to apply it to your home and car locks:
1) You can use the provided straw (IF you can find it, the ALWAYS get lost somehow) and spray a SMALL burst into the keyway. It needs to be small, since WD-40® can clean away some of the lithium grease which is necessary for the automobile-lock wafers and linkages inside a car door to operate smoothly.
2) You can slather a bunch onto your key. This is actually the BEST way.
Either way, you will need to insert your key into the keyway and draw it in and out a few times, remembering to turn the key in both directions for the ENTIRE range of the turning radius.
This will put a very fine film overlay on the pins or wafers in the lock and effectively repel moisture.
Here are some Bonus Tips:
1) Make sure you have a rag handy to wipe off any fluid that might drip out of the lock. WD-40® can cause stains on your paint and wood, so clean it off promptly. You should also wipe any excess off of your key when you are done.
2) Depending on the weather conditions, you most likely will need to repeat this periodically through the season.
3) If you do have broken or missing dust shutters on your car locks, it is very important to replace them to keep your locks in good working order.
4) Check the weather-stripping on your car. Cracked, broken or missing weather-stripping can allow water to enter between the door and the car body. This too can freeze into ice and not allow your car door to open at all. Additionally, dripping water can foul or short out your vehicle electronics, such as electric door locks, mirrors and windows. This goes doubly so for weather-stripping on your windows.
So, let’s all get prepared for Winter, winterizing your locks is easy and quick and can save you lots of time and trouble later on. Don’t forget to stock up on necessities before the next “Snowmageddon”!
Checking Google the other morning using the search term “locksmith 30043” I came across 6 listings. The first was for Gwinnett Locks and Keys, a local locksmith just across highway 20 from me. They are legitimate. Unfortunately the other 5 were not. Here is what I found:
Lawrenceville Locksmith Guys
Avilon Lock Change & Rekey Service
Make a car key in Lawrenceville
All Around Car Key & Automotive Service
Aborn Lockouts Service
You will notice that 3 of the phone numbers are exactly the same and the rest have the first 8 digits the same.
I found the same thing last December, there were over 70 different listings using 48 different phone numbers, all the numbers had the same first 8 digits and of course some of the numbers were reused. Some of them had 5 listings using the same phone numbers covering the entire N Metro area. I didn’t check to see how many there were this time, so I’m only using the first page of Google listings as an example.
A tactic of the scammer ‘locksmith’ is to spam the internet with multiple listings to increase the chances of the unsuspecting public calling them so they can rob you. In the example above, Google returned 6 total listings, A – F. 5 of these listings were fraudulent and all 5 connected to the same scamster company which is most likely out of state. This is inferred by the fraudulent reviewers activity. There are actually more than 20 connected to this single out of state company in the surrounding cities, but we are focusing just on Lawrenceville for now.
Having the same and similar phone numbers means the scammer has purchased a bank of local phone numbers. This accomplishes 4 things:
1)to make you believe that each number is a different company, giving the illusion of choice.
2) to spam the listings so legitimate and honest locksmiths won’t be found.
3) to make you believe they are local so you won’t have to wait. And finally…
4) the ultimate goal is to steal from you.
Additionally, each listing had a single fraudulent 5 review. The reviews were posted under some obviously false names; Mccaffery Myler, Bowman Arvidson , Lowrey Stutes , Mercurio Sunseri and Korhonen Hargrove. Clicking on these names will take you to the Google+ review pages associated with the false names. All but one have posted 10 separate 5 reviews for fake locksmiths in 4 different states! The odd one out only posted 9.
There is a concerted effort afoot to steal as much money as can be bullied out of you – So, when you are searching Google for your locksmith and you see a good Google review, check out the reviewer, check the other listings for similar phone numbers. You will save yourself a lot of heartache and more importantly, your hard earned cash.
Please do your research, find your locksmith BEFORE you need him or her.
You could do it yourself, you could have a friend attempt it, or you could call one of several different people. A police officer, a tow truck driver, or even a parking lot attendant.
YOU SHOULD CALL A LOCKSMITH.
Auto makers are making it harder and tougher for thieves to break into your car, which makes it harder for anyone to get into your car without a key, a good thing too.
Locksmiths are trained professionals, we have special tools, designed to open locked cars without damaging the interior of the door, pulling or bending the linkage rods, breaking the glass or damaging the door electrical system, sometimes this could cause a fire and actually destroy your auto. When a locksmith arrives to open your car, he knows what he is looking for and will not randomly poke around in your door cavity tearing away wires, breaking glass, or the lock itself. You will be on your way quickly.
Good Locksmiths are bonded and insured, which means if any damage does result, it will be taken care of quickly. It is a good idea to ask if your local locksmith is insured, for your protection.
A police officer can enforce the law, or write a ticket and guard the public safety.
A tow truck driver can tow you home, even give you a jump start. A parking lot attendant or security guard can keep the parking lot safe, even help you with your packages. All of these people are trained in their jobs, and most do them well, but most of these people are NOT TRAINED TO UNLOCK CARS. If one of these people damages your car, in most instances there is no recourse, a $45 to $65 locksmith charge is preferable to $150 to $600 (more if your car catches fire from broken wiring) to repair your door or replace the glass. It is possible one of these people can actually open your car, but you don’t know for sure. With a Locksmith, you know you are getting a trained professional.
Be cautious of any company who tells you they are sending a “tech”. A Locksmith is not a ‘tech’. This is a term many of the scammer companies use for their unlicensed and UNTRAINED subcontractors, the only training they possess is how to rip you off.
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