Servicing the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia & Saturn Outlook

Dec. 3, 2010
All four use the GM Z-Keyway system and the “Circle Plus” transponder system. All can be programmed with the standard GM on-board programming procedure, which takes 30 minutes.

All four of these vehicles share the same platform, door construction, steering column, and the same lock system. Three were introduced in the 2007 model year, with the Chevrolet Traverse introduced for the 2009 model year. All four use the GM Z-Keyway system and the “Circle Plus” transponder system. All can be programmed with the standard GM on-board programming procedure, which takes 30 minutes. Advanced Diagnostics, Hotwire, and Silca have recently introduced software for their machines that allow you to program these vehicles with a reduced delay period.

The code series is G001 – G3631, and the only place you will find the code on the vehicle is stamped on the rear of the ignition lock plug. Because the ignition lock must be turned before it can be removed, it’s usually easier to make a key from the door rather than by attempting to pick and removing the ignition lock. The door and rear hatch (if equipped with a lock) use positions 3 – 9, and the ignition uses positions 2 – 10. If there is a glove compartment or console lock, it will use positions 7 – 10. Cut number one is not used by any lock on the vehicle. This allows you to get eight out of nine of the active cuts from the door and compartment lock, if the vehicle has a locking compartment.

The easiest route for making a key is usually to decode the door lock and then progress positions 2 and 10 in the ignition lock. Since this is a relatively small code series, with only 3631 combinations, most fill programs will generally come up with only one or two possibilities after the door lock has been decoded.

The door lock is difficult to remove, so my preference is to decode the door lock with the GM-67 Determinator tool. After cutting a working door key on a B-106 key blank, I’ll use a fill program to progress the remaining two cuts. Only after I have a working mechanical key, will I copy that onto a transponder key and then program the vehicle.

On a side note, the general door lock removal procedure (not the panel removal) will also apply to the 2005 – 2009 Cadillac SRX and 2010 Chevrolet Equinox. The lock used on the SRX is similar to the one used on the vehicles covered in this article, but made by Huf rather than Strattec. The lock used on the Equinox in 2010 uses the new side-milled GM “Flip-Key” system, but is held in the door in the same manner as you’ll see below. In 2009, the SRX got the new GM “Freewheeling” door lock that is also used on the new Camaro and other vehicles. For the 2011 model year, the Equinox also got the new “Freewheeling” door lock. All “Freewheeling” door locks can be removed from the door easily by loosening a single screw.

Most of the photos in this article were taken of a 2009 Saturn Outlook (Photo 1), but will apply to the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia.


All doors on these vehicles are equipped with vertical linkage rods inside the door. The easiest way to unlock them is to attack the vertical linkage on the rear door with the Tech-Train 1017 tool. As with most modern vehicles, these SUVs are equipped with multi-layer weather stripping. In photo 2, I’m using a shim to separate the weather stripping from the glass, and then I insert a wooden wedge between the shim and the glass. This prevents the lower layer of weather stripping from rolling under my wedge. If I allowed the weather stripping to roll under, it would make it harder to insert a tool and it might damage the weather stripping. The vertical lock button on the rear door is located near the back of the door and I’m wedging open a gap just forward of the lock button.

The TT-1017 tool is equipped with two small hooks that will be horizontal once the tool is inside the door. The hooks face in opposite directions so you can grab the linkage from either side, depending on which end of the tool you insert into the door. In Photo 3, I’m inserting the tool so that I can grasp the linkage rod from the side that is closest to me.

Use care when inserting this tool – always make sure that the hooked end of the tool is as deep in the door as possible before you rotate the shaft of the tool. If you rotate the shaft too soon, it will put too much pressure on the glass and may break the window. In photo 4, I’m inserting the tool about three inches forward of the inside lock button.

Once the hooked end of the tool is as deep as it will go inside the door, I carefully rotate the shaft of the tool so that I can insert the rest of the tool into the door. Before I began this job, I placed a mark on the shaft of the tool 9 ½ inches from the hook that I inserted into the door, and now I lower the tool until that mark is even with the top of the weather stripping. The reason for this is that there is a bundle of wires inside the door, just below the point where I need to attack the linkage. As long as I do not insert the tool more than 9 ½ inches into the door, I will avoid those wires.

Inside the door, you can see how the hooked end of the tool has gripped the vertical linkage rod just above the bundle of wires. In order to locate the linkage rod, I probed inboard of the window track with the tool while watching the inside lock button for movement. After hooking onto the rod, I pull the tool toward the front of the vehicle and then pull up on the tool to lift the linkage and unlock the door.

From the outside, you can see how I’m pulling the tool forward and up at the same time to lift the linkage. As you remove the tool, keep the hooked end of the tool as deep inside the door as possible before rotating the shaft. If you hook the end of the tool over the base of the window glass before you rotate the tool, you can easily break the glass. I could have used a long-reach tool such as the “Jiffy-Jak Vehicle Entry System” to unlock this vehicle, but in my opinion, using the TT-1017 is much easier and faster.

Door Lock Removal

Only the driver’s side door is equipped with a lock. This lock (seen in Photo 8) looks similar to modern VW, Toyota, Hyundai, and the new GM Freewheeling locks. Since all of these locks can be removed easily by simply loosening a screw on the edge of the door, you might assume that this lock could be removed the same way, but looks can be deceiving.

A rubber plug on the edge of the door, once removed, reveals a Torx® screw that appears to hold the lock cylinder in place. Normally this type of screw is captive and is not intended to be completely removed. Ordinarily, loosening the screw will release a clamping mechanism that will in turn release the door lock. In the case of the Outlook and its sister vehicles, the screw must actually be removed. Once the screw has been removed, it will release the armored cover that fits over the door lock.

The cover is intended to protect the lock from brute-force attacks. Removing the cover will make the removal of the lock easier. By looking into the door around the edge of the lock, you can actually see some of the spring clip that holds the lock in place. With this access to the spring clip you will be able to remove and replace the clip easier than if you had left the cover in place.

Next we’ll need to remove the door panel to gain access to the lock and the clip that holds it in place. The panel is secured with three Torx® bolts and a series of upholstery clips around the outer edge of the door panel. One of the bolts is located behind the trim of the inside door handle and the other two are located behind the trim around the grab-handle in the arm rest.
You will also have to remove the triangular trim piece at the forward edge of the door behind the outside mirror. On some vehicles there will be a small speaker mounted into this trim, but on this base-level rental vehicle there is no speaker.

The trim piece is secured by two upholstery clips. Just pull gently along the edges of the trim and it should pop free of the door. On models equipped with the speakers, you will also have to disconnect the speaker wire after the trim is free.

The plastic trim on both the door handle and on the grab-handle snaps into place. To remove them, I use an offset scribe or Shrum tool, but a small screwdriver can be used as well. On both pieces of trim, you will need to pull a small notch to remove the trim. I insert the Shrum tool into the notch and work it behind the trim, then pull out on the tool. This reduces the possibility of scratching the trim where it can be seen.

A single #25 Torx® screw located behind the inside handle can now be removed (Photo 16).
The two screws in the center of the door (Photo 17) are also #25 Torx®. After these three screws have been removed, the only things holding the panel in place are the upholstery clips.
On the underside of the door panel, several cut-outs are located in line with the clips along the bottom edge of the door. A standard clip removal tool can be inserted through the cut-outs to pry the clips free (Photo 18). Once the clips on the bottom of the door are free, work your way around the rest of the panel releasing the clips with your hands rather than by using a tool. This will also help reduce the possibility of scratching the panel in a visible area.

Once the panel is loose, reach between the panel and the inner skin of the door to release the cable that is attached to the inside door handle (Photo 19). Using a pair of needle-nosed pliers, squeeze the two plastic tabs on the cable housing together so that the housing will slip out of the mounting bracket. Then you can rotate the cable around so that it will come free of the handle. When you replace the door panel, you will attach the end of the cable first and then push the cable housing through the opening in the mounting bracket, allowing the two tabs to snap back out to secure the cable.

On the forward edge of the door there are two wiring bundles that connect all of the electronics in the door to the rest of the vehicle. After disconnecting these two connectors, the door panel will be free to come off of the door. Put the panel in a safe place while you do the rest of the job.

Photo 21 shows the back side of the door panel and the two wire connectors that are attached to the wiring in the door panel. The two connectors are slightly different in shape, so you cannot hook the wiring up wrong when you reassemble the door.

With the panel removed, you can see the opening through which you will have to work to access the door lock (Photo 22). The plastic moisture barrier can be peeled completely off if necessary or you can just release the top portion and fold it down.

Inside the door, Photo 23 shows the back of the lock and the lower portion of the clip that holds the lock in the handle. The lock can be removed by working the clip toward the rear of the door and then pushing the lock into the door cavity. As you work with the spring clip, try to push it back just far enough to release the lock, without removing the clip from the handle. If you remove the clip completely, it will be difficult to get it back into place without removing the entire handle assembly. If you can leave the clip in place, after you remove the lock push the clip back into the slot. Then, when you replace the lock, all you will have to do is to slide the lock in until it snaps into place.

After disconnecting the linkage rod, you can now remove the lock from the door for service (Photo 24). The linkage rod is designed to snap in easily to the plastic keeper on the end of the cam, but in order to remove it, you will have to slide the cam up the linkage rod until it comes off over the end of the rod.

In photo 25, you can see one of the ramps that hold the lock in place. As the lock is inserted into the handle assembly, the ramps spread the spring clip apart until it snaps into place at the rear of the ramps. The facecap is reusable; it can be removed with a little careful prying.
The lock cam is held in place on the end of the plug with a standard “E” clip (Photo 26). As you disassemble the lock, mark the position of the cam to make sure that you replace it right side up.

The drain hole, sometimes referred to as the “weep hole” should be positioned on the underside of the lock when it is installed in the vehicle. You can see all seven wafers through the drain hole and it is easy to decode the lock by sight-reading the wafers through the drain hole. But it’s generally easier to decode the lock with the Determinator without having to remove the lock from the door.

After removing the lock cam and the facecap, the plug will slide out of the housing without having to be turned. (Photo 28) These locks are lubricated with a white grease from the factory. If you have to remove the grease while servicing the lock, re-lubricate the lock before you put it back together. Also notice that the shutter assembly is modular and snaps into the face of the lock plug. In most cases it will not be necessary to remove the shutter unless it has been damaged.

Photo 29 shows the wafers out of this particular lock. Each tumbler is stamped with a number that corresponds to the depth of that tumbler, and a letter. All you really need is the number in order to code the cylinder. This vehicle was a rental and may have had a door lock manufactured by someone other than Strattec. The Strattec tumblers are shown in the ignition lock section below.

Reassembling the cylinder is essentially the reverse of the disassembly. Make sure that the spring clip is properly seated in the grooves of the handle bracket before you begin. With the lock out of the housing, the spring clip is easily visible through the opening in the door handle. Photo 30 shows the lower portion of the spring clip at the bottom of the lock opening. Once the lock is back in place, replace the armored cover and reattach the door panel.

Ignition Lock Removal

The steering column used on these vehicles is the same basic column that is used on the new Camaro and all of the other new vehicles equipped with the new GM “Flip Key” system. The ignition lock (Photo 31) used on the Outlook and its sister vehicles is interchangeable with the Flip Key ignition on the outside, but milled and bitted for the Z-Keyway system. These locks use an active retainer and must be turned to the “ON” position before they can be removed. This particular vehicle was also missing the rubber pad that is normally located below the ignition lock.

The lower shroud on the steering column is split into two pieces, but the two pieces must be removed from the column at the same time because they interlock. There are two bolts in each side of the shroud and the tilt lever must be flipped to the down position before the shroud can be removed.

After removing all four bolts, and flipping the tilt lever down, the left side of the lower shroud can be removed. You will have to slide it down the surprisingly long tilt lever before you can remove it completely.

The right hand side of the lower shroud must be pulled over the face of the lock and disengaged from a tab on the upper shroud. Note the rectangular opening in the top of the shroud that is usually hidden behind the steering wheel (photo 34). A similar opening is on the left side. To disengage both sides you must work a small tool between the shroud and the wheel to release the mounting tab.

After the lower shroud has been removed, the upper portion can be lifted free of the column. Note in photo 35 the two tabs that interlock with the lower portions of the shroud as well as the hooks that grip the upper edges of the lower shroud components.

With the shroud removed, you have complete access to the ignition lock and Theft Deterrent Module (TDM). It’s not necessary to remove the TDM to remove the ignition lock, but if you are dealing with a damaged or vandalized lock and have to do any drilling, I would recommend removing it to eliminate the possibility of damaging it. The poke-hole to release the ignition lock is virtually impossible to see because it is located directly behind the brace above the lock in photo 36.

The TDM snaps onto the lock housing and after the shroud has been removed, it can be pulled over the face of the lock with a little gentle prying. Use care any time you work with a TDM, because the very fine copper windings that form the antenna ring can be damaged relatively easily, and then the TDM will have to be replaced. Replacing the TDM will require a diagnostic tool in order to program the vehicle to accept the new TDM.

Since I couldn’t find the poke-hole on the Outlook, Photos 38 and 39 were taken of a 2010 Camaro, which uses the same steering column. But, they are equipped with the high security side-milled lock system. The tip of the Shrum tool shown here is going into the poke-hole to depress the active retainer. The retainer aligns with the poke-hole only when the lock has been turned to the “ON” position. I was able to locate the poke-hole on this one because I had the vehicle for about a week. I eventually located the poke-hole by feel as I was trying to determine the best way to remove the entire lock assembly from the column. You can see the poke-hole if you place a mirror above the lock assembly. I had a replacement lock in my hand and knew from that approximately where to look.

Photo 39 shows the lock housing without the lock in place and the tip of the Shrum tool sticking into the housing through the poke-hole. The small black circular piece at the end of the lock chamber is a part of the key buzzer switch.

Whenever I have problems trying to locate a poke-hole, I try to look at a replacement lock for help. If I do not have a lock, then I try to locate a photo of the lock. The sites that I go to first are Strattec ( or ASP ( if I’m working on an import vehicle.

After the lock has been removed from the steering column (Photo 40), it can be easily disassembled and serviced. The active retainer does double duty by holding the lock in the column and to hold the ignition lock itself together. Once the lock has been removed from the column, the outer shell of the lock can be removed by depressing the retainer and sliding the shell off the end of the plug.

At the rear of the cylinder, Photo 41 shows the portion of the key buzzer assembly that contacts the piece of the buzzer switch that we saw earlier inside the lock housing. The pin in the housing is spring loaded and maintains pressure on the white nylon shaft.

Photo 42 shows the lock plug with the shell removed and the active retainer and spring. The small tab on the bottom of the retainer is normally trapped under the shell, so that the retainer will not come out until the shell has been removed. When the shell is removed, the retainer will shoot out and get lost if you are not ready for it. The key buzzer activator may also fall out.
Photo 43 shows the link in the key buzzer activator in place in its socket in the side of the lock plug. When the key is inserted, the link is levered to the rear against the end of the nylon pin, which activates the key buzzer switch.

In photo 44, the key buzzer link has been removed from the lock. The shape of the link will keep you from putting it back in incorrectly. If the link is in upside down, the lock shell will not fit back over the plug.

Photo 45 shows the ignition lock tumblers. The tab on the side of each wafer acts as a retainer, so you will have to snap the wafers into and out of the lock. I use a small screwdriver for both operations. Each of these tumblers is stamped with just the depth of the cut, but the numbers are very small.

The Outlook and its sister vehicles are somewhat odd because the locks are very similar to the Flip-Key system, yet are fitted for the Z-keyway blanks and tumblers. I would not be surprised in the least to see these vehicles change over to the Flip-Key system in the near future.