Getting into Your GM Vehicle
Retrieving the mechanical key
GM vehicles (Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet) use three key fob (remote control or ‘clicker’) styles. For Style 1, press the thin button near the bottom of the transmitter (remote control or ‘clicker’) used to remove the mechanical key. Do not pull the mechanical key out without pressing the button.
In Style 2, a flip key, shown to the right, press the unmarked chrome button to extend the mechanical key. It remains attached to the key fob. Use the mechanical key to unlock the driver’s door.
The Style 3 key fob is similar to Style 1, in that the mechanical key is removed from the fob for use getting into the vehicle. However, it is similar in appearance to Style 2. To remove the mechanical key, press the button on the side of the transmitter near the key ring, as shown, and pull the key out.
Beginning with the 6th generation Corvette introduced in 2005 and adding the Cadillac CTS and ELR Coupes, no external door handle, and thus no backup entrance option, is obvious. Then in the 2013, the Chevrolet Impala and followed by the Tahoe and Suburban, the Cadillac Escalade, XTS and ATS in 2015, the key hole was hidden behind the rear of an otherwise typical door handle. Chevrolet added the Malibu, Cruse, Camaro and Volt in 2017 and Buick joined in with the Envision in 2016 and LaCrosse in 2017. Sadly, more and more General Motors products will likely feature this unnecessary change going forward.
Many GM models hide the key holes under a cap at the back of the driver’s door. They include the Chevy Impala, Tahoe, Suburban, CTS, ATS, Malibu, Cruse, Camaro, and Volt, the Buick Envision, Enclave and LaCrosse and the GMC Acadia and Terrain. To remove the cap, pull the door handle out to the open position. Insert the key into the slot on the bottom of the cap (3, right). Push it as far upwards as possible, then pry outward. And yes, you WILL feel like you are prying off a piece of your car! Move the cap rearward revealing the key cylinder. Now the mechanical key can be used in the cylinder. Look for a video here to help.
To replace the cap, insert the two tabs at the back of the cap between the black seal and the metal base. Pull the door handle out to the door open position and move the cap forward and press to snap it into place. You can then release the door handle.
Cadillac, in the Escalade and XTS, add a new wrinkle to the hidden key hole syndrome. The cylinder is hidden in the same place and manner, but the cap is a thin, 1/8 of an inch. To remove it, the door handle must be pulled fully open. Then, push the cap towards the handle to release it. It will take a bit of force to accomplish this. See two videos here.
Replacing it is a simple matter of reversing the removal process and simpler than the process needed for the old style.
In the middle of the 2017 model year, the Escalade, while retaining the hidden key hole, was shifted to the method shown previously. So, starting in 2017, look for a slot beneath the cap. If its there, use the key as described above. Push it into the slot as far upwards as possible, then pry outward. Move the cap rearward revealing the key cylinder. Now the mechanical key can be used in the cylinder. We have a video here as well to help.
Remember, getting IN the car is most important. If you have difficulty replacing the cap, don’t. Let your dealer do it when you get a new battery for your Key FOB!
Finally the Corvette (C6 and C7) and Cadillac CTS and the ELR Coupes have flush door handles (left image) with no key holes at all. They have a very different trick up their sleeves. You must use the mechanical key to open the trunk. The key hole is under the lip of the trunk lid facing the ground.
Once open, you will find a release handle. It is below the lip of the trunk in the CTS and ELR (image above right) and along the left wall of the trunk in the Corvette (image below right). Pulling the door release lever will unlock as well as unlatch the driver’s door.
We have two videos for coupes here.
Related: Getting Out!