Skip to Content

Kwikset Smart Key Instructions 2022 (Problems & Fixes)

Kwikset Smart Key Instructions

“Uh oh! I think my Smart Key is stuck…”

Kwikset Smart Key is truly an innovative security lock.

With this, you can use an endless number of keys using one door lock.

But, like any device, it can get into some trouble too.

It may fail to program a new key.

Or worse, it may reject both your old and new keys!

Geez, I bet you can’t imagine getting locked out of your own house for several hours.

But hey! Troubleshooting Kwikset Smart Key not working is easy as pie.

Continue reading to discover:

  • How to use a reset cradle and reset tool.
  • 5 common Kwikset Smart Key problems.
  • The proper way of re-keying a Smart Key.
  • 5 ways to troubleshoot Smart Key not working.
  • How to fix a misprogrammed Kwikset Smart Key.
  • And that’s just the beginning…

What is a Kwikset smart key?

A Kwikset Smart Key is a special lock-and-key technology that allows household owners to easily reset and re-key their door locks. Using the SmartKey tool, homeowners can program several keys into one door lock. Kwikset smart key is powered with five wafers, making it bump-proof and pick-resistant.

How to use a Kwikset Smart Key

Re-keying” may sound too foreign and technical to regular household owners.

They may actually think that it’s hard to perform.

That they need to have technical knowledge about lock-and-key technology.

But that’s not the case with Kwikset Smart Key.

Kwikset Smart Key looks like just a typical cylinder door lock.

The only difference is that it has a special technology that allows users to reset and re-key their locks.

“What makes a Smart Key special?”

If you look closely at the Smart Key, you’ll notice a separate small keyhole. 

It’s the one that’s directly on the left of the regular keyhole.

This little hole is for the special SmartKey tool. Also known as the “learn tool.”

Note: This comes with every Kwikset Smart Key package. But you can also buy a separate one if you’ve lost your original tool.

You use this tool to reprogram your Kwikset cylinder lock. 

And that’s what makes it different from regular cylinder locks.

You may also wonder: Why are smart locks so expensive?

“I’m confused! So, how many keys do I need to have when re-keying?”

When reprogramming or re-keying Kwikset Smart Key, you need to have three (3) keys:

  1. Main or original key.
  2. SmartKey tool or learn tool.
  3. New or replacement key.

You use the original key to be able to access or reprogram the five wafers.

The SmartKey tool is used to reset the cylinder lock.

And you use the replacement key to create a new key combination in the system.

It may sound a lot…

But re-keying Kwikset Smart Key would only take less than a minute to perform.

A lot of homeowners install Kwikset Smart Key in their homes for various reasons, and that’s to:

  • Replace lost keys.
  • Prevent door lock-bumping.
  • Lessen risks of lock-picking.
  • Remove access to past tenants.
  • Give temporary access to guests.
  • Provide exclusive access to new tenants.

And yes, you can do all of that without having to replace your cylinder door locks at home!

“I already understand how it works. Now, I want to know how to re-key a Smart Key.”

Since Kwikset Smart Keys are available in two keyways, there are two (2) different processes of re-keying a Smart Key.

Make sure to follow one that is right for your security lock.


To re-key Kwikset Smart Key with SC1 keyway


Step #1: Keep your door open

Before you start the resetting or re-keying process, make sure that your door is open.

This will help prevent you from getting locked out in case the resetting process has failed.

Note: Whether you’re using a deadbolt, knob, or lever, make sure it’s in the “locked” position. 

Step #2: Insert the operating key

Get your old or operating key. And insert it in the keyhole.

Make sure that it’s fully inserted.

Step #3: Turn the key 90 degrees clockwise

Turn Operating Key 90 Degrees Clockwise

Turning the operating key 90 degrees will help the lock’s system learn its position.

Push the key forward while turning it. 

Doing this will help ensure that you won’t accidentally pull out the key while turning. 

Step #4: Insert the SmartKey tool 

Locate the small hole next to the regular keyhole. Then, insert the SmartKey tool.

Make sure to insert it fully and firmly.

Once inserted, you may feel the tool click inside.

Step #5: Remove the SmartKey tool and operating key

After a few seconds, remove the SmartKey tool.

Then, remove the operating key right after.

Warning: Make sure to avoid turning the key in any direction while removing it. As this will misprogram the lock’s system and cause the reset process to fail.

Step #6: Insert the new key

Get your replacement key and insert it into the keyhole.

This specific step is the beginning of the re-learning process.

Step #7: Rotate the key 180 degrees counter-clockwise and clockwise

Without pulling out the key, rotate it 180 degrees counter-clockwise once.

Then, rotate it again 180 degrees clockwise.

After that, rotate the key 90 degrees counter-clockwise.

Now, your Kwikset Smart Key has been reset and re-keyed!

To re-key Kwikset Smart Key with SC1 keyway

Resetting a Smart Key with an SC1 keyway has the same process of inserting and rotating keys.

Here’s how you can reset it:

  1. Make sure that the door is open.
  2. Insert the new key.
  3. Remove the new key.
  4. Insert the operating key.
  5. Rotate the key 90 degrees counter-clockwise.
  6. Insert the SmartKey tool.
  7. Remove the SmartKey tool.
  8. Remove the operating key.
  9. Reinsert the new key.
  10. Rotate the key 180 degrees clockwise.
  11. Rotate the key 90 degrees counter-clockwise.
  12. Then, remove the new key.

After this, you shouldn’t be able to use the old key to the same door lock.

Note: Make sure also to avoid pushing in or pushing out the key when rotating.


5 common Kwikset smart key problems & fixes


#1: Kwikset Smart Key won’t turn on

“I was re-keying my Smart Key. And after that, it got stuck!”

If you can’t use both your old and new keys after re-keying, it means that the lock got misprogrammed. 

This means that the pins have failed to “learn” the key you’ve inserted.

The pins inside the lock move when a key is inserted. And the pins records that pattern in its system.

But it can fail to do so when the key has been moved from its position.

When that happens, the key won’t work with the lock.

How to fix it:

The only way you can fix a Smart Key that doesn’t turn is to reset the device.

Resetting it requires that you remove the cylinder lock from your door.

You’d also need to use a reset cradle or SC1 reset tool.

When resetting the Smart Key, make sure to avoid unnecessary turning of the key. As this is what causes the resetting and re-keying process to fail.

The resetting process automatically re-keys your lock. Meaning your new key is already programmed to it. 

And so, you wouldn’t need to re-key it after.

Editor’s pick: Are Smart Locks Worth It? 5 Things You Need To Know

#2: New key doesn’t work

“When I insert the new key, the cylinder rotates but not fully…”

If the new key doesn’t work with your Smart Key, it’s because the lock has been misprogrammed.

Every little movement from the key causes it to happen. And this includes:

  • Moving the key up and down while turning.
  • Accidentally rotating the key while inserting or removing.
  • Accidentally pulling out or pushing in the key while turning.

These movements cause the pins to wrongly learn the patterns or codes of the keys.

And this is why Kwikset manufacturers always advise homeowners to be very careful when re-keying their Smart Keys.

How to fix it:

Normally, you’d have to reset the Smart Key when this happens.

But resetting takes a lot of time and effort, as you’d need to remove the cylinder lock from the door.

Fortunately, there’s a trick on reprogramming the Smart Key by removing it.

To reprogram Kwikset Smart Key:

  1. Make sure that the door is open.
  2. Keep the lock in the “lock” position.
  3. Insert the key you used in re-keying.
  4. Slowly move the key in, out, up, and down while trying to turn it 90 degrees clockwise.*
  5. Once the key is in the 90 degrees position, insert the SmartKey tool.
  6. Remove the SmartKey tool.
  7. Remove and reinsert your key.
  8. Turn the key 180 degrees counter-clockwise.
  9. Turn the key 180 degrees clockwise.
  10. Try to see if you can pull out the key from this current position. If yes, jump to item #3.
  11. Turn the key 90 degrees counter-clockwise.
  12. Then, remove the key from the lock.

After this, you should be able to use your new key without problems.

*This is to find the learned position of the key.

#3: Key comes out during re-keying

“After I did step 9 in reprogramming the Smart Key, the key came out of the lock.”

If this happens, it means that something has failed during the reprogramming process.

It’s a good thing that you’ve jumped to this section right away…

As continuing with the process will waste your time and effort.

How to fix it:

When the key comes out during the test procedure, just leave the cylinder in its current position.

Don’t reinsert the key.

Instead, follow this instruction:

  1. Fully insert the SmartKey tool.
  2. Once you’ve felt a click, remove the tool.
  3. Reinsert the same key that came out during the process.
  4. Rotate the key 180 degrees counter-clockwise.
  5. Rotate the key 180 degrees clockwise.
  6. Repeat the “pull out” test procedure.
  7. If the key didn’t come out, rotate it 90 degrees counter-clockwise.
  8. Then, remove the key from the lock.

If the key comes out again during the test procedure, contact Kwikset support.

#4: Cylinder only turns in one direction

“I re-keyed my Kwikset. When I try to insert a key, it only turns right.”

This problem also occurs because of misprogramming.

Perhaps you’ve accidentally moved the key during the process.

Nevertheless, you can’t use the key if the cylinder is stuck in one direction.

How to fix it:

You may reset your Smart Key if you want.

But there’s an easy way to fix this particular problem.

To fix a Smart Key that only turns in one direction:

  1. Make sure that the door is open.
  2. Keep the lock in the “lock” position.
  3. Insert the operating key.
  4. Turn the key 90 degrees in the direction that it turns.
  5. Insert and remove the SmartKey tool.
  6. Remove and reinsert the key once.
  7. Try to see if you can remove the key. If no, repeat step #5.
  8. Turn the key 180 degrees in the opposite direction.
  9. Turn the key 180 degrees in the opposite direction once more.
  10. Try to see if you can remove the key. If yes, refer to item #3.
  11. Turn the key 90 degrees back to the home position.
  12. Then, remorse the key from the lock.

After this, you may reinsert the key to see if the cylinder isn’t stuck anymore.

#5:Cylinder doesn’t rotate smoothly

“My Kwikset Smart Key rotates, but very roughly…”

This can also happen due to misprogramming.

(I know what you’re thinking. Everything is caused by misprogramming. And that’s true!)

You can still use your key to unlock the door even if the cylinder doesn’t rotate smoothly.

But it can be a nuisance, especially during emergencies.

How to fix it:

No, hard-to-rotate cylinders don’t need oil or grease.

You just have to reprogram your Smart Key again.

To fix a Smart Key cylinder that doesn’t rotate smoothly:

  1. Make sure that the door is open.
  2. Keep the lock in the “lock” position.
  3. Insert the operating key.
  4. Turn the key 90 degrees clockwise.
  5. Insert then remove the SmartKey tool.
  6. Remove and reinsert the key once.
  7. Turn the key 180 degrees counter-clockwise.
  8. Turn the key 180 degrees clockwise.
  9. Try to see if you can remove the key. If yes, refer to item #3.
  10. Then, turn the key 90 degrees counter-clockwise.

After that, try to turn the key in both directions to see if the process is successful.

If it still doesn’t turn, contact Kwikset support.

How to reset a Kwikset smart key

Resetting a Smart Key is reprogramming its lock system. 

It’s basically turning the lock pins back to their default positions.

Doing this is necessary for you to fix a misprogrammed Smart Key. And for you to be able to re-key your cylinder lock again.

You should reset your Kwikset Smart Key if the:

  • Cylinder only turns in one direction.
  • Cylinder isn’t turning in either direction.
  • Operating key you’re using has been lost.
  • Replacement key doesn’t work after re-keying.
  • Old and new keys don’t work with the cylinder lock.
  • Key has been pushed in or pulled out while re-keying.

“Can I use any key as a new or replacement key?”

Smart Key re-key technology works with Kwikset (KW1) keyways. 

So, make sure to get a KW1 replacement key.

If you’re using a Kwikset Smart Key SC1, use an SC1 key.

You might also like: How to change batteries in an August smart lock?

“How would I know if my key is KW1 or SC1?”

You can determine what type of key you have by looking at its shape. 

KW1 keys have a more square-shaped and smooth-edged bow. 

And SW1 keys have a diamond-shaped and pointy-edged bow.

Moving forward…

Kwikset Smart Keys are available in two (2) keyways: KW1 and SC1. 

These two use different pin codes. 

And so, they have different resetting processes.

To reset Kwikset Smart Key with KW1 keyway

Normally, you have to bring your cylinder lock to a locksmith to reset its lock’s system.

But you can also reset it yourself by using a reset cradle.

A reset cradle is a resetting tool for KW1-compatible ones.

And yes, it’s made by Kwikset. So, it’s safe and effective to use.

“What should I prepare for resetting a Smart Key Kw1?”

To reset a Kwikset smart key, you need to have the following:

  • Reset cradle.
  • SmartKey tool.
  • Security cylinder.
  • Replacement key.

To reset a Kwikset smart key using a reset cradle:

Note: Refer to the user manual for more detailed instructions in aligning the parts.

  1. Remove the cylinder tumbler or unit from the door lock.
  2. Remove the clip that holds the inside cylinder.
  3. Push out the inside cylinder from the unit.
  4. Get the reset cradle.
  5. Rotate the lower dial to the right until the arrow aligns to the start point.
  6. Fully insert the cylinder into the reset cradle.
  7. Rotate the lower dial to the left until the two arrows meet.
  8. Insert the SmartKey tool into its designated keyhole.
  9. Push the SmartKey tool in until you hear a click.
  10. Remove the SmartKey tool.
  11. Insert the key you want to use.
  12. Hold the key and use it to gently pull out the cylinder from the cradle.
  13. Rotate the key 90 degrees clockwise back to the home position.
  14. Remove the key.
  15. Then, secure the cylinder unit back to the lock.

You may reinsert the key to see if it works. 

The resetting process is successful if the cylinder rotates smoothly.

Warning: Make sure to avoid turning the key in either direction when not instructed. As this will cause the resetting process to fail.

Need more help in resetting Kwikset Smart Key using the reset cradle?

Here’s an instructional video to help you out:

To reset Kwikset Smart Key with SC1 keyway

“I also have a Kwikset Smart Key SC1. Can I use the reset cradle for it?”

SC1 keyways use different pin codes. So, you can’t use the reset cradle for it.

If you want to reset it, you have to buy the special reset tool for SC1.

Before you start resetting, you need to have the following:

  • Key blank.
  • SmartKey tool.
  • SC1 reset tool.
  • Security cylinder.
  • Replacement key.

To reset a Kwikset Smart Key SC1:

  1. Remove the cylinder tumbler or unit from the door lock.
  2. Remove the clip that holds the inside cylinder.
  3. Push out the inside cylinder from the unit.
  4. Hold the cylinder using your left hand.
  5. Insert the key blank.
  6. Insert the SC1 reset tool with the prongs fully inserted.
  7. Hold the reset tool and cylinder firmly together.
  8. Remove the key blank.
  9. Use your right hand to turn the reset tool 10 degrees clockwise.
  10. Gently remove the reset tool from the cylinder.
  11. Rotate the whole cylinder clockwise until the keyhole lies horizontally.
  12. Insert the SmartKey tool firmly. Then, remove it.
  13. Fully insert the new or replacement key.
  14. Turn the key 90 degrees counter-clockwise.
  15. Remove the new key.
  16. Then, secure the cylinder back to the lock.

After this, you should be able to use your new key with your Kwikset Smart Key SC1.

Can you reset a Kwikset smart key without a key?

You can reset a Kwikset Smart key without the operating key by using a resetting tool.

Depending on which Smart Key version you have, you’d have to use a reset cradle or SC1 reset tool.

Using the reset cradle, you only need to prepare the SmartKey tool and the new key you want to use.

But with the SC1 reset tool, you’d need a blank key as additional equipment.

Note: Reset cradle should only be used for KW1-compatible Kwikset SmartKey. And the SC1 reset tool is for the locks that have SC1-keyways.

You only need 4 to 5 equipment to reset a Kwikset Smart Key without the operating key.

But you’d need to give your full attention to it, as any mistake can cause the resetting process to fail.

“I don’t have a resetting tool either. Can I still reset my Smart Key?”

Well, your first option is to bring your cylinder lock to a locksmith.

Resetting a Kwikset Smart Key without a key requires disassembling the cylinder.

And if you’re not knowledgeable about it, you can cause more damage to your Smart Key.

But if you want to challenge yourself, go ahead and disassemble it.

Just make sure that you have the appropriate tools. And be very careful in following the instructions.

To reset a Kwikset Smart Key without a key and resetting tool:

  1. Remove the cylinder unit from the lock.
  2. Remove the clip that holds the inside cylinder.
  3. Push out the inside cylinder from the unit.
  4. Gently remove the sidebar.
  5. Align the pins to the shear line.*
  6. Fully insert the new key.
  7. Put the sidebar back in its place. Make sure it slides once reinserted.
  8. Reinsert the inside cylinder into the unit.
  9. Then secure the cylinder unit back to the lock.

*Use a small tool like tweezers to align the side pins.

Congratulations! You just reset your Kwikset Smart Key successfully.
Read next: How Do You Open a Kwikset Lock With a Dead Battery? 4 Ways