Traditional & Auto Locksmiths, What’s The difference?


Traditional Locksmiths

Hi there from GBS Locksmith Bristol.

In this article Martyn from GBS will break down the different types of locksmiths and the different types of services they provide. At the end of this post we’ll make a list of all the locksmith services we can think of whether traditional or auto and guide you to the type of locksmith you’d need for that service. We hope this article helps you in finding the services you’re looking for, even if it’s not with us.

Firstly I’ll explain some of the services we provide as a traditional locksmith. Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Martyn, I have over 15 years experience and I’m obsessed not just with locks but with mechanics in general. I studied engineering at university and right from an early age I’ve loved knowing how things work. So what does traditional locksmith mean? A traditional locksmith is someone who deals with doors to buildings as a pose to an auto locksmith who deals with automobile locks such as cars, van, and motorbikes.

Traditional But Modern…

The word traditional is used to describe our type of locksmith service because locks as we know them have been used for over 2500 years, whereas automobiles are a lot more modern and have only been around for a couple of hundred years and even less time if we’re talking about a car the way we’d think of them today.

So what types of lock and locksmith service are most commonly provided by a traditional locksmith? From experience the most common type of service we provide is entry gaining. That’s not to say that auto locksmiths don’t, but whereas an auto locksmith would help you gain entry to a van or a car, we help you with locks to property, safes, and even padlocks.  The most common type of lock GBS deal with is known as a cylinder lock. Mostly used on UPVC doors and as second locks on wooden front doors a cylinder lock isn’t a type of lock as there are many variations, however the way these locks work and the way we approach these lock outs is similar.

Rim Cylinder Locks

The most common type of rim cylinder locks are;

  • Night latches
  • Euro Cylinders












While these locks are the most commonly dealt with by ourselves, mainly due to the fact that the majority of these types of locks are usually self locking and don’t require a turn of a key to lock, there are many other types of locks we deal with in a lock out situation.

Mortise Locks

A mortise lock lends it’s name from the woodwork joint required to fit one of these locks which is known as a mortise. This simply means that a mortise lock requires a mortise joint to be cut into the door, or piece of furniture it’s being fitted to.

Mainly found on but not limited to older doors and furnishings, there are two main types of mortise lock. These are called mortise deadbolts, and mortise sash locks. The difference? A mortise deadbolt is just a key activated lock on a door or piece of furniture, whereas a sash lock has an added spring latch for use in conjuction with your actual door handle built in.

Mortise locks are a lot harder to pick and a lot harder to gain entry and that’s great for stopping burglars but not so good when you lose your keys and have to call a traditional locksmith out. The easiest way for someone to tell which type of lock you have without having to look at the lock is the shape of the key. Rim Cylinder locks usually have smaller keys which are flat when you lay them down on a surface. Whereas mortise locks are usually operated by a longer almost L shaped key.


Mortise sash lock










Yale key

mortise key

Auto Or “Car” Locksmith

These locksmiths, or car locksmiths are a different type of locksmith altogether. Auto locksmiths deal with vans, motor-bikes, and cars typically. Although sometimes a business might provide both traditional locksmith services and Auto locksmith services. Typically this is less common among smaller local businesses. For a full list of an auto locksmiths services it’d be best to go to an auto locksmiths website. GBS Locksmith Bristol recommend Lock city for all auto locksmith work in the Bristol area and you can find a full list of services provided by them on there website through the link we’ve provided.



Here’s a quick list of services and which type of locksmith will be best suited for that service;

Locked out of a home or office? You need a traditional locksmith.

Locked out of your car, motor-bike, or van? You need an Auto Locksmith.

Need a lock changed in your home or office? Traditional locksmith.

Need a barrel changed or a key reprogramming for your car, motorbike or van? Auto locksmith.

Need a key cutting for your doors at home or in the workplace? You need a traditional locksmith.

Thanks For Reading

This has been Martyn from GBS Locksmiths Bristol we hope you found this post helpful. If you think anyone else you know might find this post helpful then don’t hesitate to share it with them. Goodbye for now.


14 thoughts on “Traditional & Auto Locksmiths, What’s The difference?”

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