Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below are answers to questions we are asked by our customers and visitors to our lockshop and website. If you have a question you would like answered, simply send an email to [email protected] with your question and we will do our best to answer it.

Residential Locks (6)

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First, look for heavy duty residential grade locks and keep in mind that deadbolt locks must have 1 inch bolts. The most important part of the lock is the strike plate on the door frame. The strike plate must be secured with 3 inch screws that go into the wall studs and not just the door frame.

Home Depot and Loews carry a wide selection of locks at very inexpensive prices – so inexpensive that we cannot compete with their prices. However, we will install locks and other products that you purchase yourself, but please remember we cannot provide you with a warranty. If you find out that the lock is broken or missing parts, you will still be required to pay us for a service call so make sure everything is in tact prior to scheduling an appointment.

Although our equipment may be more expensive, many homeowners prefer to purchase locks through us because we do not charge for them upfront, only when the project is complete. We also have access to several lock manufacturers that are not available in local hardware stores. Feel free to stop by our showroom to check out our lock displays and get your important questions answered by an experienced locksmith.

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We can duplicate tractor key’s so long as we have the blank. If you need a key for a Ford Tractor or any other tractors, regardless of how old they are, bring in your key to our shop at 16 Church Road in Malvern, PA 19355 and we will see if we have a blank that will fit the key you need.

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Schlage locks are top of the line so you should be just fine with the 10 year old locks, however you will have to use your own judgement. There is no way for a locksmith to know the condition of your locks without seeing them first hand, but here are a few quick tests you can do to spot any potential problems.
1) Turn the knob completely on both sides of the lock and make sure the handles spring back smoothly.
2) When turning the knob, make sure the lock retracts fully when you turn it.
3) Make sure the lock actually locks and unlocks

If you are unsure if you should purchase new locks, give us a call or stop by our lock shop in Malvern and one of our expert locksmiths will help you determine if you need new locks or can continue to use your old locks.

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If your keys are stolen, you have two options: change the lock set or have it re-keyed. Replacing the lock set means that your entire lock, including the knob, will be removed and replaced. Re-keying your locks only involves replacing the tumbler. This keeps the current lock in place, but a new key will open it and all previous key versions won’t work.

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Changing a lock requires replacing the whole lock, knob/lever, latch and strick. When a lock is rekeyed, we change the existing cylinder and leave the rest. Your existing key will no longer work and we’ll supply a new one. Most of the time, we suggest getting your lock rekeyed. To determine which is best, give us a call at 610-644-5334 or fill out an online service request.

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If your key broke, won’t work, or the door knob keeps spinning, you may think the lock is broken. However, it doesn’t always mean you need a new lock. In most cases, this only means that the lock mechanism is broken. If so, we can rekey the lock to work with a new key and change the mechanism. If the lock is broken, then we’ll install an entire new lock.

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If you have lost your keys to your pinball machine, have a lock that is not turning correctly or simply cannot get your machine open, we can help unlock your pinball machine. Give our licensed and certified locksmiths a call at 610-644-5334 or fill out an online service request.

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Service Calls (3)

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In short, yes.   We will travel to any location that requires our expertise and commitment to excellence.

Our specialty at Great Valley Lockshop is working with security companies to properly help them install a computer card access system, or key-less entry system.  We partner with several large card access contractors to properly install the mechanical locks needed to work with the new system the security company is installing.  Even though we are based in Chester County, PA, our locksmiths routinely travel up to two hours for commercial and construction projects every day.  In some situations we will take on projects in Western Pa and other states that lie outside of our traditional service area.

For example, we recently completed a large project for a University with multiple locations across Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh.  With the farthest location being 6 hours driving time from our Malvern shop, this customer was willing to pay our added travel expenses because our expertise was desperately needed to help them complete the project.  Unfortunately for this customer, hiring local companies for each site would have meant too many “cooks in the kitchen”, so they required one commercial locksmith to handle it all.

We take great pride in the level of service that we can provide for our commercial clients while still providing an unmatched level of customer service to the local consumer who has locked themselves out of a home or car.

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Great Valley Lockshop handles commercial locksmithing for small and large businesses. There’s no job too small or too big for our team. Give our licensed and certified locksmiths a call at 610-644-5334 or fill out an online service request.

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As a mobile locksmith company, our technicians come directly to your location. Our locksmiths are prepared to be on site as quickly as possible. For service, give us a call at 610-644-5334 or fill out an online service request.

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Commercial Locks (7)

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Yes you can have one key that works at both locations, home and office.

Many of our customers, normally in management positions at their place of work, use their work master key for their home. In these situations, we typically make a separate key for the house that the rest of the family can use so that the business is not at risk. This makes it easier for our client to access the business or commercial lock and the home lock with one key. Depending on the situation, we may have to upgrade the deadbolts or locks on the home so that they work with the office master key. Sometimes we do have to up-grade the homes locks but this is also for the good.

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Here’s a great how-to video showing business owners how to remove a commercial door lock in a few simple steps.   We have also transcribed the video into text for those that would rather read the steps.

“If you have a commercial lock, I’ll take you through the steps on how to remove it. This is the lock on the outside, and here we have the inside.

You’re going to need either a punch, like I have here, or an awl.  All you need to do is push it into the small hole on the side of the handle. That’s going to release [noise] a little tab that will allow you to pull off the handle. Now, we’re going to take a screwdriver, and we’re going to release the escutcheon around the body of it.

By gently catching under the edge [noise] , we can pull the escutcheon off. Sometimes they’ll be screwed in place or they’ll have a tab. The next step, we’re going to unscrew these two screws that are holding this outside ring onto the main part of the lock.

I loosen screw on top and on bottom, and I’m pulling away this protective piece. Now, we’re going to have two more screws to loosen to free up the lock. Once you have the two additional screws removed, you can pull off this plate, and then we can get to the main body of the lock.

Now, all you have to do is grab the other side of the lock and then just pull it away, and it’ll free it from the latch. That’s the steps to remove a commercial lock from a metal door.”

For more information on commercial lock installation and removal, give us a call at (610) 644-5334 or send an email to [email protected]

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Yes, we understand how frustrating and time consuming it can be when you are trying to open a locked or stuck filing cabinet to get to your things. There are a few ways to unlock a filing cabinet without damaging it. With our broad radius of mobile commercial locksmith services, we can come to your home or business to get your cabinet open so you can get back to work!

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An egress door is an exit door that building occupants use during an emergency. You recognize these doors as the exit doors with the horizontal push bars across them. These doors are designed this way so that occupants don’t have to think about how to use them in an emergency, as pushing is a natural reaction.

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In general, buildings that allow more than 50 occupants to assemble are required to have exit devices. For state-specific laws, call us at 610-644-5334 or fill out an online service request.

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A master key system allows two or more keys to open one lock. It is a hassle-free way of limiting access to specific employees with minimal keys.

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If your key broke, won’t work, or the door knob keeps spinning, you may think the lock is broken. However, it doesn’t always mean you need a new lock. In most cases, this only means that the lock mechanism is broken. If so, we can rekey the lock to work with a new key and change the mechanism. If the lock is broken, then we’ll install an entire new lock.

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Home Lock Installation (1)

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First, look for heavy duty residential grade locks and keep in mind that deadbolt locks must have 1 inch bolts. The most important part of the lock is the strike plate on the door frame. The strike plate must be secured with 3 inch screws that go into the wall studs and not just the door frame.

Home Depot and Loews carry a wide selection of locks at very inexpensive prices – so inexpensive that we cannot compete with their prices. However, we will install locks and other products that you purchase yourself, but please remember we cannot provide you with a warranty. If you find out that the lock is broken or missing parts, you will still be required to pay us for a service call so make sure everything is in tact prior to scheduling an appointment.

Although our equipment may be more expensive, many homeowners prefer to purchase locks through us because we do not charge for them upfront, only when the project is complete. We also have access to several lock manufacturers that are not available in local hardware stores. Feel free to stop by our showroom to check out our lock displays and get your important questions answered by an experienced locksmith.

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Hardware (6)

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Yes, we supply lock and entry way hardware and install what we sell. Some residential locksmiths offer services to a  homeowner such as re-keying locks and installing deadbolts, however, most people do not realize that some locksmiths provide a full service and will go beyond supplying the actual doors, frames and locks.   This is typical with new construction projects.   Not only do we supply hardware to general contractors,  but we also install what we sell.

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It really starts with what locks are on your doors now.  If you are only adding or replacing one lock we would try and determine what locks you have now.  If they are quality we would replace with the same manufacturer.  If they are a knock off cheap set we would recommend Schlage, Kwikset for normal usage.  For decorative hardware we would recommend Emtek or Baldwin.

Some of these products are available at the Home Center cheaper than we can supply them to you.  We offer no warranty on these products and if you do not have the correct parts we will charge you for a return trip.  If we supply them we honor the factory warranty, if we make a mistake on the ordering we eat the costs.  We offer a labor warranty as well if we supply and install the parts. Attached is our warranty policy as well.

We support USA products, unfortunately a lot of our products are assembled in Mexico and shipped in to USA.  Some higher end products are still assembled in USA. New designs and finishes are available now so you have a lot of options between all the lines.  You need to find a style and finish you like then we can see if it will fit on your doors.

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Schlage locks are top of the line so you should be just fine with the 10 year old locks, however you will have to use your own judgement. There is no way for a locksmith to know the condition of your locks without seeing them first hand, but here are a few quick tests you can do to spot any potential problems.
1) Turn the knob completely on both sides of the lock and make sure the handles spring back smoothly.
2) When turning the knob, make sure the lock retracts fully when you turn it.
3) Make sure the lock actually locks and unlocks

If you are unsure if you should purchase new locks, give us a call or stop by our lock shop in Malvern and one of our expert locksmiths will help you determine if you need new locks or can continue to use your old locks.

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Here’s a fantastic video from Lee Harvey of Door Hardware Simplified explaining what a mortise door lock is. Below the video we have include an audio transcript of the video:

I’d like to talk about mortise locks. Mortise locks is a type of lock set that’s used in the commercial industry as far as for heavy duty, high frequency use applications.

Schlage Mortise LockThe mortise lock is quite a bit different than the cylindrical lock, or board type lock that we know it, where the cylinder is installed in the lever, and the latch bolt connects to the chassis. It’s different than a unit lock, or what we refer to as a pre-assembled lock, where this lock comes out of its box, and simply is installed in a cutout in the door for that notch.

The mortise lock, as you will see, comes with many different components. It has the mortise body that we are showing now. It has escutcheon type trim plates or rose plates that fit on the outside and the inside of the door. It comes with its levers the outside lever, the inside lever. Together they’re connected through a through spindle onto the door through the mortise lock case itself as well as a separate cylinder.

As opposed to a cylindrical lock, these pieces are all disassembled when it’s in the box, and it has to be assembled in the door properly and in a correct manner, of course, using the manufacturer standard fasteners that come with it. It also comes with a strike plate. Once the lock set is installed in the door, the strike is simply installed on the jam to allow the latch bolt, to simply engage into that strike. You’ll notice on this mortise lock set that there are a lot more parts associated to it. The parts are heavier duty, more massive, because of the type of applications that this lock is designed for.

You will have the hubs where the spindle passes through. They’re spring loaded to power the lever that’s in this lever, so it doesn’t sag or droop. We have the latch bolt. We have the auxiliary dead locking latch. It also, depending on the function that you decide to install, will have a deadbolt. Primarily those are the functions and these are the internal parts or mechanisms that’s made into it.

This is the mortise lock case that you would get from the manufacturer.
By installing it into a pre assembled door, already prepared for this mortise lock, you’ll notice that the mortise lock simply engages into the edge of the door, into the cavity that was designed to receive that Mortise lock.
Once that’s in place, you then are able to install your escutcheons, or outside trim, being an escutcheon or a rose type trim.

This particular sample has an escutcheon trim. If you’ll notice that this door is prepped for that plate to simply install on it. It has a place for the cylinder to be installed through. It also has an inside plate that fits on the inside of the door.

It’s a matching escutcheon type. Once all this is installed, and the cylinder is screwed into the lock set, then you’re able to fasten this lock and secure it in its place.

Once that’s completed, we install the final item. This is called a face plate or a scalp. That simply covers up all of the fasteners and the screws that are used in putting that lock on the door.

If you have questions about Mortise Locks, give us a call at (610) 644-5334 or message us using our online form and we will answer any questions you may have.

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Here’s a fantastic video from Lee Harvey of Door Hardware Simplified explaining the differences between Cylindrical Locks and Tubular Locks. Below the video we have include an audio transcript of the video:

Cylindrical LockI’m going to talk about cylindrical locks, and the differences between the types of cylindrical locks in the marketplace.

Primarily, you have two basic types, a tubular type of cylindrical lock, and a extra heavy duty cylindrical lock. The tubular lock, and cylindrical lock will both serve the same purpose, but one is considered more light duty than the other.

If you’ll notice, with a tubular lock you have two different pieces. You have the outside, and the inside trim. The latch bolt, if you’ll notice, has a continuous latch bolt that goes all the way through the mounting hole, the bored hole through the door.

If you notice, the hub is in the middle of that door. That’s important, because when this latch bolt engages into the trim of the outer and the inner trim mechanism, it will operate the latch bolt successfully.
There’s other advantageous of a tubular lock set but probably the more heavy duty lock set cylindrical lock on the market is this type of a heavy duty cylindrical lock.

If you’ll notice, the latch bolt is different. It doesn’t engage into the main trim like the tubular lock. This latch bolt has to engage into the retractors on the chassis itself and interlock with the retractor to allow that latch bolt to fully retract when the lever is moved. Simply installing the latch bolt is inserting the latch bolt in this already predrilled door mount.

Depending on the hand, the flushness of this latch bolt face against the edge of the door, that centers these tabs in the cylindrical lock to allow the cylindrical lock to be installed and engaged with that latch bolt, ensuring proper connection. The most important factor to remember here is the engagement of the latch bolt into the chassis.

Also included in this is the inside trim that simply goes on the inside of the door and then, of course, the other lever. The other level is not attached as it was with the tubular lock. Also what comes with these lock sets are the various types of strikes that goes with the jamb. Depending on if it’s a wood jamb, you might want to use the smaller strike. If it’s a hollow metal jamb, or a metal jam the larger strike is designed for that.

We hope that this video was helpful to you. If you have questions about cylindrical locks, tubular Locks, or lock installation, give one of our expert locksmiths a call at (610) 644-5334 or message us using our online form. You can always stop by our lockshop in Malvern and we will answer any questions you may have.

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Your lock or car will not be damaged when it’s picked by our professional technicians. Note: if the lock needs to be drilled or is already damaged, then we will need to replace it entirely. Give us a call at 610-644-5334 or fill out an online service request.

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Tips and Advice For Homeowners (3)

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We know that protecting your family and valuables, whether at home or work, is extremely important. With 30 years experience providing locksmith services to companies and families alike, we have seen our share of “less than desirable” locksmiths taking advantage of people. To help you choose your next locksmith wisely, we have put together a list of things to consider before trusting a stranger with the safety of your loved one’s and valuables.

    • Anyone can place an advertisement in the phone book or online, so be careful not to trust all sources. Verify that the locksmith has a physical address, or look up the locksmith online and search for complaints or reviews. Some good websites that list reviews and complaints online are Yelp and Angie’s List.
    • According to the Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, all advertisements must contain the locksmiths PA Contractor number.  The absence of this number should be considered a red flag.
    • Watch out for residential locksmiths advertising that they are recommended by local police.  Always verify this fact with your local authorities
    • Beware of “locksmith scammer’s”. Locksmith scammer’s are un-trained locksmiths that will typically list a toll free number as the main business contact number.  When a call is placed to the toll free number, it is routed to a call center that is often located in another state. The call center will then dispatch a “locksmith” to your home and the service will be performed. Once complete, the homeowner is confronted with a bill higher than originally quoted.  Since the locksmith is onsite, homeowners are usually stranded in a no-win situation and pay.
    • If a locksmith shows up in a car or an unmarked van, ask them for their PA Contractor Number or their ALOA (Associated Locksmiths of America) number.
    • Always get a quote. Always.  Unless the project is an emergency, contractors are required by law to you a written estimate before the project begins. If changes are made to the project, the contractor is required to have them approved by you before any additional work begins.

In every situation, asking for a PA Contractor Number and an ALOA Number will only help protect you from harm or theft. If you do not see it ask why are they breaking the law and report them to the Attorney General’s office. If it is not an emergency get quotes and quote numbers from the vendor. Pennsylvania contractors, which includes local locksmiths, are required by law to give them to you in writing (click here for more information to find out what must be included in a home improvement contract) . If you make changes they are required to have you approve them before any additional work is done.

Since 1973, Great Valley Lockshop has been a local, Chester County Pennsylvania Locksmith providing honest, ethical and expert home and business security services.      We hope these tips give you the insight you need when choosing a contractor for your next project.

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Opening gun safes are primarily based on each individual’s case. There are certain times where we can get a combination for the safe and other times where we cannot. If the combination is available, we have paperwork available at our lock shop for the owner of the safe to fill out. If the combination is not available, then we will need to come out to your location and drill into the safe to open it. Please be ready to provide the model number, serial number and manufacturer of the safe and call us with any questions at (610) 644-5334

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Lock bumping is a lock picking technique used to open cylinder locks and deadbolt locks by using key called a bump key or 999/rapping key. Burglars can open 90% of locks in less than 20 seconds. Two ways to protect yourself from lock bumping are to install high security locks or to go with an electronic lockset or access control system. Learn more in our blog!

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Keys (1)

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We can duplicate tractor key’s so long as we have the blank. If you need a key for a Ford Tractor or any other tractors, regardless of how old they are, bring in your key to our shop at 16 Church Road in Malvern, PA 19355 and we will see if we have a blank that will fit the key you need.

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Locks (2)

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Schlage locks are top of the line so you should be just fine with the 10 year old locks, however you will have to use your own judgement. There is no way for a locksmith to know the condition of your locks without seeing them first hand, but here are a few quick tests you can do to spot any potential problems.
1) Turn the knob completely on both sides of the lock and make sure the handles spring back smoothly.
2) When turning the knob, make sure the lock retracts fully when you turn it.
3) Make sure the lock actually locks and unlocks

If you are unsure if you should purchase new locks, give us a call or stop by our lock shop in Malvern and one of our expert locksmiths will help you determine if you need new locks or can continue to use your old locks.

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If you have lost your keys to your pinball machine, have a lock that is not turning correctly or simply cannot get your machine open, we can help unlock your pinball machine. Give our licensed and certified locksmiths a call at 610-644-5334 or fill out an online service request.

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Security Doors (1)

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If you have ever heard of an “exit device,” “panic hardware,” a “push bar,” “panic bar,” or “crash bar,” all of these terms mean the same thing when it comes to door security. They refer to a device that allows the occupants of a building to unlock a particular door, exiting to the outside quickly during an emergency. It typically will feature a horizontal or vertical bar for the user to push on, as well as a push pad that will release the locking mechanism of the door with a single action.

Panic Bar DoorAllowing the user to push on the door, rather than twist a doorknob or pull up or down on a lever, allows for easier and faster access. It also ensures that individuals who are physically incapable of producing the movements necessary for opening levers or doorknobs are not stranded inside the building during an emergency. This makes a crash bar invaluable and oftentimes mandatory for use in hospitals, nursing homes, other healthcare facilities, and large residential buildings. However, a variety of business, educational, government, and military facilities use them as well. In fact, many public buildings will not pass inspection if they do not utilize panic bars.

Features of a Crash Bar

A crash bar can be installed on wood, metal, and aluminum frame doors that open to the outside, with many models offering a variety of security and electronic features. Many come with their own high-decibel alarms; these alarms can be used to stop people from exiting the building, or to alert management if the door has been opened unexpectedly. This feature is especially useful in retail stores and restaurants, where an occupant may be tempted to try to quickly run out of the back of the building carrying stolen merchandise, or skip out on paying a tab.

Fire rated crash bars are used on fire rated doors. In general, many interior doors that require crash bars are fire rated, and most exterior doors are non-fire-rated. In addition to these ratings, crash bars are available in several styles and price points to help meet the needs and budget of your business or organization. The number of panic bars you may need and the features that they will require will depend on a few different factors, including the occupancy level and square footage of the building, as well as the number of stories the building has.

Installing a Crash Bar

It is possible to order a crash bar from a supplier and have it shipped directly to you for self-installation, but unless you are a professional locksmith, this idea is thoroughly discouraged. A crash bar is an extremely important piece of hardware; improperly installed, you risk the lives of those within your building. Recognize that at the time the crash bar will be most necessary for the safety of your occupants, these occupants may be panicking or running, and they will depend on that crash bar to work at the exact instant they push on it. Please do not install your own crash bar; leave this project up to the professionals. Contact a reputable, knowledgeable locksmith who is highly experienced in selecting and installing crash bars to assist you.

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Vehicle Locks (1)

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A transponder is a vehicle key that adds an extra layer of security though chip technology. Your transponder key is programmed to match the computer code of the car, allowing you to start the car. If the chip is deactivated, improperly cut or damaged, your car will not run. If you’re experiencing issues with your transponder key, we can come directly to you so you can avoid the hassle of towing your car to the dealership. Give us a call at 610-644-5334 or fill out an online service request.

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