Beware of Kwikset Smartkey Deadbolts

40 Replies

I just wanted to share some more recent experience with Kwikset deadbolts as I have recommended them to numerous people in the past.  Since early 2011 I have been installing Kwikset Smartkey deadbolts in all of my properties.  I currently have somewhere between 16-18 deadbolts installed.  In the last 12 months or so I have had to replace 3 of the earlier units due to them completely failing and locking tenants out.  Luckily my properties all have two doors and I haven't had both locksets fail at the same time.  

Now, more recently I purchased a brand new off the shelf unit and wound up getting locked out of my property with my keys, tools and cell phone inside the property (this happened in the winter in MN).  Luckily my vehicle was unlocked and I was able to beat the lock into submission with a trailer hitch of all things to regain access.  Basically I installed the lock, stepped outside to test it using the supplied keys.  The deadbolt slid to the lock position and then when I went to unlock it the inner cylinder and the key popped out of the lock sending the lock pins flying all over.  

Below is a copy paste of  Kwikset's response...I expect better.  I invested in their product and purchased more locksets than I would imagine 99.9% of homeowners purchase in a lifetime.  

Status: Solved

Case Number: 201501811889

Subject: Lock Failures and Out of the Box Issues



I have been installing your Smartkey deadbolts on my rental properties since early 2011. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 of your smartkey deadbolts currently installed. I have been pretty happy with them, but I’m running into some issues lately. Some of the early deadbolts are getting really flukey and resetting themselves sporatically. I’ve replaced a 2 of the original 2011 deadbolts and I have another one that it looks like I’m going to have to replace.

A couple weeks ago I was installing a brand new deadbolt that I purchased at Home depot. I was just finishing installing it and stepped outside to test the lock (leaving my car keys, wallet, phone and tool bag inside the rental property). The door locked perfectly, but when I went to unlock it the lock cylinder spun and pulled out with the key locking me out of the property as well as leaving me stranded with no phone and no keys. It took me about an hour to gain access back to the rental with the random tools I had in my luckily unlocked car.

Now just yesterday I purchased a brand new lock from Home Depot. I installed it and when I finished up I went to test it and the keys that came with it don’t work in the lock. Tonight I’m going to have to go over there and remove the lock and return it. I really really like the rekeying ability of these locks, but with the failures I’ve been having I’m extremely frustrated. At roughly $40 a pop I have invested a lot of money into a lock system that I had hoped would simplify my life.


Case Type: Warranty Smartkey- Deadbolt
Submitted: 1/2/2015
Case Category: Warranty Smartkey- Deadbolt
SubmittedSubmitted ByDescription
1/5/2015Customer Service (Norman)Hello Eric Gutierrez,

The cylinder that pulled out may just be missing a clip that holds it in place, do you have this product still and can e-mail a picture of it?

The last item without the key working may be able to be corrected?
The Key may not have been inserted all the way when it was keyed in the Factory? Try this step first, insert the key all the way in. Slowly remove key while trying to turn, if key moves reset the key again and if not it must be reset with a Tool called the Cradle. Lowe's and Home Depot should have this Cradle and other retailers may have it now also. Can this cylinder be taken to be reset?

1/8/2015Eric GutierrezThe one that the cylinder fell out of I think I still have it. I used a trailer hitch reciever and a prybar to beat it into submission so that I could unlock the door with a pocketknife. This was all I had available to use due to being locked out of the house in December in Minnesota with no car keys, wallet, cell phone.

I went back the next day and swapped out the lock and returned it and replaced it.

1/14/2015Eric GutierrezNot sure why this still says waiting on customer.

1/14/2015Customer Service (Norman)Hello Eric Gutierrez,

The message says waiting because you do not have access to change it to any thing else and we have not opened your e-mail to answer back.
Sounds like you have it all replaced so you do not need any ting from us?.

1/15/2015Eric GutierrezYes, at this moment I do not need anything else. I would like to say I am disappointed in Kwikset's response to what happened. I will not be recommending your locks any more.


1/15/2015Eric GutierrezI saw last night that I do have the deadbolt that I had to demolish to gain access back to the property. I guess i will go ahead and just toss it.


Customer Service (Norman)

Hello Eric Gutierrez,

This is the warranty department, we replace items that break that are under warranty. If you do not need the one item replaced we will close this e-mail case.

1/15/2015Eric GutierrezSo the fact that I'm seeing multiple failures in your deadbolts roughly 2-3 years after they are installed is normal?

1/15/2015Eric GutierrezCan I get reimbursed for the lockset that failed out of the package. I had to physically mangle to gain access to my property so I doubt that Home Depot will accept the return.

Formatting went goofy when I posted it.  Edited to adjust the formatting.  

Home Depot and Lowes both would probably accept that return; just tell then it was defective, the factory support didn't help, and you had to damage it to get back inside for access to it in order to uninstall. 

That's too bad that Kwikset didn't have a better response to your concerns. I also use their locks in all of my rentals because I love how easy/quick it is to re-key them. I personally haven't had any problems with their locks, and hopefully they won't start breaking down like a few of yours have. 

I'm frustrated.  I really hoped that Kwikset would care more about the failures.  I'm not talking about 10 year old deadbolts that are failing.  These are not the bottom of the barrel at the store.  I think Ive paid $33-$40 for each deadbolt.

Why are you paying so much?  I get them for $17 each from HD Supply.  I have never had one fail and have installed hundreds of them.

btw... I have the cradle tool as well. Sometimes you need to reset them if a key is lost or a mistake is made.

Ive been buying them at Home Depot/ Menards.  Are you getting the contractor ones?  Id been getting the slightly more expensive ones since they were ANSI 1 rather than ANSI 3 on the contractor 4 packs Ive seen.  

I am assuming that they are the contractor locks.  I usually buy them 12 at a time but that does not have anything to do with the price. But again, I have not had any problems with them and have been using them for four or five years.

I have been installing Kwikset Smartkey locks but had been put off a bit by some of the stories on BP. But a couple of posters above discuss installing large numbers of these locks without a hitch. I have them on a number of properties and have had no problems, but I had been a bit anxious as to whether they would start to fail. So far so good. The basic idea is great for landlords. The rekeying itself takes a couple of minutes. I had some troublesome tenants leave and as soon as they drove off I changed the locks, and it took me about five minutes in total. A great feeling knowing they were gone never to return. 

I've only ever installed them once, and had the lock break on one of the doors.  So I installed regular locks and never went back to the Smartkey deadbolts.


Paste that message on their facebook page, twitter, wherever they're promoting w/ social media, and I bet you they will be on it like snow on a cold Eric when he's locked out due to Smartkey!

Overall, I'm satisfied with the Smartkey performance. And I think the ability to reset is a huge benefit. But sorry to hear about this one @Eric Gutierrez   . Bummer the response you got at the warranty center. Probably just some lacky fulfilling warranty shipments.

I've been using them on every door - probably a total of about 20 sets accumulated over the last 2 years. I have had 1 or 2 where a tenant said one of the locks stopped working. One had a bent key, so not sure if they were trying to turn it before it was all the way in, or it really failed..? Also, Home Depot has given me some poorly cut keys that seem to fail over time. So not sure if that has something to do with it. My local key guy at the hardware store is spot on every time..

Also, if it's not reset EXACTLY as in the instructions, it may render the lock useless. (Unless you have a "cradle.." I don't have one.. That's not the little smartkey pin, right?

Originally posted by @J. Martin :

Also, if it's not reset EXACTLY as in the instructions, it may render the lock useless. (Unless you have a "cradle.." I don't have one.. That's not the little smartkey pin, right?

The cradle is a device that resets the lock without a key that works.  It only costs about 20 bucks and can save you from tossing a lock.

I use landlord locks instead.  You can replace the core of the lock in seconds and I have a master key for all of my properties.  I have cores that I can put in and then give keys to my contractors.  If I then want to lock the property up, I swap cores and the contractor key doesnt work any more.  I can the locks right in front of the tenant during lease signing and move in and they are usually impressed and like knowing that they are the only one besides myself that have keys.

I use electronic locks on my properties. When someone moves, it takes me less than 1 minute to delete their code and program a new one. I have a master code I use to get in.

Since tenants don't have keys, they can't lock themselves out. They just need to change the battery once in a while.

Yes, all of my locks work with my master key.  I only carry two keys with me.  The master key gets my in all of my places and I don't have to remember which key opens which doors and I never have the problem of bringing the wrong set of keys.  The other key I carry is the one that you use to change the locks.  No more key ring like a janitor. 

Originally posted by @Ryan Parnow :

Yes, all of my locks work with my master key.  I only carry two keys with me.  The master key gets my in all of my places and I don't have to remember which key opens which doors and I never have the problem of bringing the wrong set of keys.  The other key I carry is the one that you use to change the locks.  No more key ring like a janitor. 

 What happens when you get too large and have to send maintenance or other managers out with the master keys?  Do you trust that they will always be as careful as you?  If someone else gets ahold of a master key then you need to rekey every lock.  I did think about going that route but decided against it.

I have been using Kwikset handlesets/deadbolts since '09, and now have them in six units (as well as my house).  No issues yet, so I recommend them...  but I do suggest you pay for the cradle, just in case you spaz out while re-keying and mess one up...  trust me, it can happen.

I have heard of them being extremely easy to break into here on BP.  You can see on how easy it is to break into. That being said I do have one installed and haven't had any issues.  As a contract once told me, only honest people use locks.  If someone wants to get in they will.  

I have these locks on my personal residence for 6 years now. Thankfully no issues, maybe Quickset is dropping the ball with QA and testing? Account Closed How long have you been using the electronic locks?  I like the idea of them, just not sure i am comfortable using them.  What happens if the battery dies while it is locked and your outside? How do you regain access then?

I used to deal with these locks with great success.  After I got my third rental going with plans of buying even more, I instantly realized I would be turning into the janitor with all these individual keys.  Plus, I did have an issue where the rekey pin fell out prematurely.  I have one useless deadbolt unless I buy the cradle to reset it and the other one, I was able to salvage it by getting the key in the exact position it was in before the pin fell out and rekeyed it correctly.  

I recently bought into the landlord lock system and will use them starting with rental 4 and slowly replace the locks on the earlier rentals as need arises.  I will salvage the quikset locks for use on rehab properties and such and use the landlord locks for active rentals once placed into service.  The idea of a better lock with 1 master key, for about the same price was KEY for me....and yes, that pun was intended.

@William Baumann  I've been using them for a couple of years now and have been working great. When the battery starts getting low, it beeps red. It will still work though. I tell the tenants to replace the batteries right away if it does this. There is a key lock on it also. So, if the batteries completely die, I can still open it. If the tenants did not change the batteries and it locks them out, I would charge them to come let them back in. It has never happened though.

I kid you not i got this text 22 min ago

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