How To Re-Key a Door Lock Cylinder


Super Moderator
Staff member
It‘s quite easy to re-key defender lock cylinders to work with existing keys - provided you can get the lock cylinder out of the door. This is primarily useful in order to have new-style door lock cylinders match your existing ignition key. A one-key Defender is pretty amazing.

This process starts with new cylinders or ones you extract from the door. With push button side doors it’s easy because you can get the cylinders out by removing the door handle and removing the c-clip on the back. With lift-up latches, you‘re probably out of luck but you can drill out the cylinder and save the latch if you’re careful. I bought a second-hand set of doors one time that worked with the key from one of my other trucks, so you should always try that approach first if possible.

It’s important to remember that there are at least two distinct generations of defender locks. All locks on side and rear doors since 2002 have been equipped with “long“ lock cylinders that accept the ignition key. Earlier cylinders are shorter. These longer cylinders are what we‘re primarily discussing here but you can apply the same principles to older locks if you need to mess with them for some reason.

Here are some photos to give a general idea of the process. I removed this new-style cylinder (somewhat destructively) from a broken latch. I accidentally snapped off the rear section but that doesn’t affect this process at all.

Note that the cylinder has a bunch of little wafers that all stick up when the key is out. When you insert the correct key, these all retract and allow the cylinder to turn in the barrel. This incorrect key still has wafers sticking up that will prevent the key from turning the cylinder. The wafers pop free with a slight tug (be sure to not lose the little springs inside) - you just rearrange them in different places until you have them all retracting as far as possible. Once they’re close, you can tidy things up by grinding a bit of the top of some wafers if necessary. It’s also OK to leave out a few wafers. The lock will be marginally easier to pick for the three people in the world contemplating breaking into a defender by picking the lock.

As long as the key releases the cylinder to allow it to turn in the barrel then you’ve succeeded.