Getting into Your GM Vehicle–
Retrieving the mechanical key
GM vehicles (Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet) use three key 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 key out without pressing the button.
In Style 2 (left image), press the unmarked button to extend the mechanical key. It remains attached to the key fob. Use the mechanical key to unlock the driver’s door.
Style 3 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 Chevrolet Impala and followed by the Tahoe and Suburban, the Cadillac Escalade, XTS and ATS in 2015, and the Chevrolet Malibu, Cruse, Camaro and Volt and Buick Envision in 2016, the key hole is hidden behind the rear of an otherwise typical door handle. Sadly, more General Motors products will likely feature this unnecessary change going forward.
As noted, the Impala, Tahoe, Suburban, CTS, ATS, Malibu, Cruse, Camaro, Volt and Envision key holes hide under a cap at the back of the driver’s door handle. 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 s 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.
The Cadillac 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.
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 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!