Kwikset Smartkey Pros and Cons

How to Identify SmartKey

The Kwikset Smartkey lock is very easy to identify. There will be a small pin hole next to the keyway. This hole is used as part of the rekey process. 

Kwikset Smartkey Cylinder

Kwikset Smartkey


  • Self Rekeyable Lock
  • Highly Rated against Picking
  • Bump Resistant(Potentially Proof)

Smartkey is one of a few self rekeyable locks. This allows home users to manage there system and maintain key control without the use of a locksmith. If you lose a key, then you can rekey the locks within seconds and your old key will no longer work.

Smartkey is also an extraordinary difficult lock to pick and potentially impossible to bump. In the field we have attempted to both pick and bump these locks. Although we have had limited success with picking, bumping has not worked to date. The Kwikset Smartkey is one of the only locks that we drill or force open in a lockout situation. 


  • Unreliable
  • Easy to Force Open
  • Decode from the Outside
  • Cannot Be Master Keyed

The major issue is the unreliability of the Smartkey system. About once every two weeks we get a call saying that the key worked in the morning to lock the door, but the key is no longer turning the lock. In this instance, we typically find a different way in and then reset the lock to your key. Unreliability is the most significant issue we have run across.

Another issue is that they are significantly easier to force open than standard pin tumbler locks. Once a lock has been forced, the rekey function is broken. Typically the key will stop working as well; however, there are times where the operating key still works.

Another flaw in the design is that Kwikset Smartkeys can be decoded from the outside of the door. This process is somewhat difficult to do; however, once you have the correct technique, it may only take 30 seconds before someone can determine the cuts to your key.

Although there is a version of the Smartkey that will allow a second key to work the lock, the Smartkey system is very limited to master keying. Typically the Smartkey works great for residential applications because master systems are rare for home users. In a commercial setting master systems are used often. The Smartkey system will greatly limit the ability to control access through keys.

Is the Smartkey for me?

The Smartkey is fantastic for anyone who may want to rekey their locks often. The rekey process is quick and simple. Due to reliability issues, it is best if you have at least two doors leading into your house in case the lock fails. 

Rekey Process

The basic approach is to insert your key. Turn the key 90 degrees clockwise. Insert the rekey tool into the hole. This frees up the key so you can remove it. Insert new key and remove the rekey tool. The lock will now be set to the new key.

If you do not have a key, the system can be reset but it is more difficult. The first option is to buy a Kwikset cradle. Following the directions on the cradle will allow you to set a new key for the lock. In addition you can reset these by hand. There are videos demonstrating this online.