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Getting Out!

That’s right, getting out!

Two previous posts on the topic, including one that sadly involved a death, has led to the need for this page. Changes in interior lock positioning and new electronic locks have caused difficulties for drivers everywhere.

So, as we run across unusual and non-intuitive lock releases or incidents that point to these or similar difficulties, we will add them here. Continue on down…


Related: Tragic Incident Points to a Need to Build to Intuition 

General Rule

Please know this: there is ALWAYS a way out. If the key fob or remote is outside the car, or if there is an electrical problem, the vehicles door’s can always be opened. If your vehicle isn’t shown here, find the lock release in the your owner’s manual!


BMW Inside Lock SwitchSince at least 2008, BMW has placed the interior lock release in the center of the dashboard near the emergency flasher switch and between the central air vents, rather than on the door or arm rest where drivers have come to expect it. See the image. It is certainly well within reach of either front seat and eliminates the need for two switches, one for each door. It also displays the standard door lock icon, as shown expanded below.

BMW lock switchHowever, for those not immediately familiar with BMW models, the position of the switch can and has in fact fooled some people into believing there was no way out of the car if the door was locked and the key fob was left outside. This is only because the switch is not placed where one would expect to look.

Related: BMW / Mini Dead Key Fob Help

General Motors

Coupe_flush_handleFour of GM’s Coupe styles feature an electronic lock that allows for a flush, aerodynamic exterior door handle (image). The cars are Chevrolet Corvettes built after 2005, and the Cadillac CTS Coupe and Cadillac XLR and ELR Coupes. By extension, the interior release is also electronic, rather than mechanical.

Inside door releaseShould you run into trouble, a mechanical door release does exist. It can be found on the floor below each of the doors in the form of a lever, much like a trunk or fuel door release (image). It is in no way obvious, easy to see or intuitive to check at your feet for a door release, a fact that has cost one man his life.

Inside_release3The image on the handle, expanded here, does indicate that the vehicle’s door will be released with a pull of the lever. However, seeing it and identifying it while sitting in the tight quarters of a Coupe will be difficult at best. Run your hand along the floor just beneath the door and in front of the of your seat for the lever and give it a pull.

We got hold of a Cadillac CTS Coupe and can add this gif (below) of the lever in action. We used it from outside the car, so it could be seen easily!!

GM Coupe Escape Lever






Related: General Motors Dead Key Fob Help


The new 2017 Lincoln Continental now also features electronic latches. Ford Continental Inside ReleaseMotor Co. has kept a key hole, but moved it to inside the chrome trim below the mirror at the front of the driver’s door. Check out the link for more.

On the inside of the car, a mechanical release is provided and is found in the center of the door just below the armrest, as shown. The designers get credit for placing this where a driver would look first in the event of an emergency – in the door itself.  Sadly and this may come back to haunt Ford/Lincoln – there isn’t one on the passenger door…


Two of us had the opportunity to test drive a Tesla Model S recently, and the car is certainly an eye opener and a peek into the future in so many ways. However, it too has electronic locks and door releases. My ‘handler’ – one does not test drive a Tesla in the traditional way – did allow us a peak at some of the back-up entry and exit procedures. (We’ve spent some time with an owner’s car since.)

Tesla Door ReleaseThe exit process from the back seats for this car is truly a head scratcher. The handle pictured to the left is located beneath the rear seat leather in a carpet cutout. In fact, there is a cutout and handle located under the center of each rear seat. The cutouts are above the floor where the carpet is vertical.

Locate the cutout, likely by feel, and then feel for the handle. Pull the handle and a cable releases the rear door on whichever side of the car you are working with. The front door handles work mechanically.

GM Coupe leverThe image on the handle is the standard drawing of a car with a door swung open, as is seen in the lever above. The handle itself is a carbon copy of the one used in the GM Coupes to open the driver’s door from inside he trunk, as you can see to the left!


There is not an equivalent lever in the Model X. The rear interior door handles operate mechanically.

And a video on the topic here.


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