Servicing the 2014 Chevrolet Impala, Part 2

June 2, 2014
The new Impala uses the GM side-milled lock system with a flip key fob

Part 1 of our series on servicing the 2014 Chevrolet Impala covered car opening, procedures, key generation and transponder programming. Read Part 1 at In the second part of our series, we cover removing and servicing the door lock and ignition lock.

Door Lock Removal

At first glance you would not think that the 2014 Impala is even equipped with a mechanical door lock cylinder.  The door lock cylinder is concealed behind a pop-off plastic cover, apparently because the manufacturer intended for it to be used only if the battery is dead or the remote will not work.

A small slot on the underside of the cover is designed for the key blade, or something similar, to be inserted.  A little careful prying with a screwdriver or the key blade will free the cover from the hidden lock (Photo 1).  Be careful --  you are working with a plastic part that is painted to match the vehicle.  The cover will pop up from the forward edge and you need to slide it to the rear in order to remove it completely

Once the cover has been removed, you can see the door lock and the armored cover that protects it.  Photo 2 shows a small crack on one of the two tabs that hold the rear of the plastic cover onto the armored cover.  I put that crack there as I was practicing removing and replacing the cover.  When you put the cover back on, it is very important that you seat the rear edge of the plastic cover first and then slide cover forward to seat the forward edge.  The first time I tried to put the cover back on I mistakenly seated the front edge and tried to snap the rear edge into place.  The cracked tab was the result of that mistake, and I’m glad that I did not try to force the cover into place.  If I had, I might have broken both tabs off completely.

Photo 3 shows the armored cover and the face of the lock that it protects.  If you are familiar with the door lock that is used on the Camaro, Equinox, Regal, and other GM cars that use the side-milled system, you will immediately see the differences.   The armored cover is removed by loosening the #25 Torx® screw, accessed through a hole on the edge of the door.  The hole is concealed behind a rubber plug that can be removed easily with your fingers.  As you loosen the screw as shown in Photo 4, pull gently out on the armored cover until it comes free of the door.  It is not necessary to completely remove the retaining screw, and if you try, you may drop it inside the door and create extra work for yourself.  If this vehicle had used the same door lock as the Camaro, loosening this screw would have been all that was necessary to remove the door lock.  Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of removing this lock.

When the armored cover comes free of the door (Photo 5), you will be able to see the front portion of the door lock itself.  The armored cover has a lip that covers part of the face of the lock, intended to prevent the lock from being pulled out of the door with a dent-puller or similar device.

Once I had the armored cover off of the lock cylinder (Photo 6), I realized that the lock was not designed to come out without removing the inside door panel.  The Cadillac SRX uses a wire retainer to secure the lock in place and initially I assumed that this vehicle used a similar system.  That was not the case.

Photo 7 shows the lock and the handle assembly with the lock removed.  There are two ramps on the side of the lock housing that fit into the handle assembly.  When the lock is inserted, the white plastic retainers snap into place behind the ramps to secure the lock in place.  As I discovered after a lot of work, it is possible to release the lock cylinder without removing the handle assembly, but then getting the lock out of the door, and then re-installing it, is harder than just removing and replacing the handle assembly.

 If you wish to try to remove the cylinder without removing the handle assembly, you will have to use a small tool such as a lock pick, very small screwdriver, or a Shrum tool to depress the two plastic tabs, located above and below the lock.  You will have to insert your tool into the gap between the lock cylinder and the outer door skin.  Once you have depressed the tabs, the lock can be pushed into the inside of the door cavity.  At that point, you will have to maneuver the lock past the lower edge of the window glass, the window regulator mechanism, and a wire bundle before you will be able to twist the entire lock so that it comes free of the linkage rod.  This operation must be done completely by feel, since you simply cannot see what you are doing because of the construction of the door.  Replacing the lock would be basically the reverse of the above procedure.

Door Panel Removal

Regardless of which method you choose, removing the door panel will be required.  The panel itself is held in place by three 8mm bolts and a multitude of plastic upholstery clips.  The fit of this panel is very tight and all three screws are well concealed.  I have never seen workmanship like this on anything other than luxury cars.  Use care as you remove the panel, it would be very easy to damage the trim if you are not careful.

One of the screws is concealed behind a pop-off trim panel inside the handle trim (Photo 8).  Even though I expected to find a screw here, the fit of the cover fooled me first.  The access point to remove the cover is relatively small and at the lower rear end of the cover.  I used a Shrum tool inserted into the small gap to carefully pry the cover free. Once the cover was removed, the 8mm screw was easily visible (Photo 9).

The other two screws were both inside the well of the armrest. The one at the rear was only hidden by a lift-out rubber tray inside the armrest (Photo 10).  The second screw was very well hidden under the armrest control console that contains the power window and other controls (Photo 11).

The fit and finish of this unit was as good as any that I have seen on any Lexus, and would be easy to damage.  I tried to remove it like a Lexus console, but no amount of probing at the rear edge revealed a retaining spring clip.  But, I could feel something there, and eventually decided that it was a retaining clip and tried pulling up on the rear edge of the console with a Shrum tool.  The clip was much tighter than I had expected, but eventually it let go with a pop, allowing the rear end of the console to move up (Photo 12).  Photo 13 shows the clip in detail along with a locating tab at the rear of the console that made getting a tool under the console tricky.  Once the rear end of the console came up, I was able to slide the hook at the front end of the console free of the armrest so that I could remove the console.  With the console out of the way, I now had full access to the last screw and could then start working on the upholstery clips around the edge of the door panel.

After you have all of the upholstery clips free around the edge of the door, you will have to disconnect the inside handle cable and the main wiring harness connection before you can remove the panel.  Releasing the cable connection to the inside handle (Photo 14) was both easy and obvious.  All I had to do was squeeze the tab at the top of the attachment and then pull the attachment back until the cable would fit through the slot in the handle assembly (Photo 15).  Once the cable was free of the handle, I rotated it until I could pull the end of the cable up and out of the handle (Photo 16).

The main wiring harness uses the same type of connector that Cadillac has been using for the last few years.  The wiring for all of the electronic devices and controls mounted on the door run through a single connector that is attached to the inner surface of the door panel. Releasing the catch on the white handle, and then lifting the handle will separate the two portions of the connector.  When the handle is all the way up, the two parts will pull free from each other (Photo 17), allowing you to completely remove the door panel.

As you are wrestling the door panel free of the door, part of the inside weather stripping may want to come off with the door panel and part may want to stay on the door.  It really doesn’t matter which way it goes, but you will have to re-attach it to the door properly before you can replace the door panel.  A series of metal clips extend out from under the weather stripping and fit into slots in the door panel (Photo 18).  Often these clips will pull out and fall on the ground as you are removing this type of door panel.  If that happens, simply slip them back onto the door in the pockets they came out of .  Once the clips are back in place, slide the weather stripping back over them so that the clips are trapped underneath (Photo 19).

After the door panel has been removed and stored, the only access to the interior of the door is nowhere near the outside door handle (Photo 20).  Peel away the heavy plastic moisture barrier from the inner skin of the door (Photo 21).  The moisture barrier also functions as sound insulation to reduce road noise.  Carefully peel the moisture barrier away beginning at the top left portion.  The adhesive is a sticky putty-like material; after you are done you should be able to replace the moisture barrier just as it was in the first place.

Next, release the outside handle assembly to access the door lock. First, remove the outside handle itself as shown in Photo 22.  Once the armored cover over the lock has been removed, pull the handle out from the rear.  After the rear portion is free, continue to pull the front portion out of its socket inside the door.  You will now have access to a single #25 Torx® screw that was hidden beneath the forward end of the handle.  Loosen this screw slightly and the entire inside portion of the handle assembly will slide forward and drop into the door cavity (Photo 23).

You will now have to work by feel to guide the handle assembly forward and down until you can actually pull it out of the access hole in the inner skin of the door (Photo 24).  The curved cable attached to the end of the handle assembly functions as the outside handle linkage.  This cable runs between the handle assembly and the latch, and is responsible for opening the door when the outside handle is pulled.  Slack in this cable will allow us to move the handle assembly freely inside the door.

The lock linkage is a more or less a traditional linkage rod with a “U” shaped bend in the top end that goes through a plastic grommet in the lock pawl (Photo 25).  Work by feel to twist the handle assembly so that the linkage rod disconnects from the lock pawl.  After the linkage rod has been released, the entire handle assembly and the lock can be pulled out of the access hole in the door for easy access (Photo 26).

Photo 27 shows the rear of the lock cylinder and the odd lock pawl assembly on the rearThis pawl assembly acts as a clutch to prevent the car from being unlocked by forcing the lock to turn.  A white plastic clip holds the lock cylinder into the handle assembly.  Use a small screwdriver to release the two plastic clips and slide the lock cylinder free of the handle assembly .

Once the lock cylinder has been removed, it can be disassembled and decoded, repaired, replaced, or re-keyed as necessary.  Reassembly of the door is basically the reverse of these steps, but it is much easier to attach the lock pawl to the linkage rod before you re-insert it into the handle assembly.  When you have the handle assembly back to the approximate position that it need to be, insert the key and turn it partially to help position the handle assembly.  As you position the handle assembly, make sure that the two plastic tabs at the rear (Photo 28) fit over the outside of the door skin.  When the handle assembly is properly positioned, tighten the screw at the front of the handle and test the lock for proper operation.

Insert the forward end of the outside handle into its socket in the handle assembly and then rotate it until the handle is close to its proper position.  At this point, replace the gasket around the handle end and the lock cylinder, before you seat the outside handle into the handle assembly.  Seating the end of the handle requires you to push in on the fork-like portion of the handle assembly that locks over the end of the outside handle.  Insert a long screwdriver through one of the holes in the inner skin of the door.  After the handle is properly seated, replace the armored cover over the lock cylinder, as well as the plastic cover.  After the door panel has been replaced, the job will be complete.

Door Lock Servicing

This lock comes apart differently than any of the other GM side-milled locks that I’ve seen.  The lock has a flange that extends in the opposite direction from the pawl.  The flange has a hole in it as if it was designed for a mounting bolt, but there was nothing in the hole on this vehicle. Photo 29 shows there is a metal plate at the rear of the lock that is secured in place by two tabs that fit into recesses in the flange.  This metal plate is actually what holds the lock together.

This plate appears to be designed to function somewhat like a re-locker in a safe lock.  If excessive force is applied to the lock, this plate will pop off, and the parts of the lock will fall inside the door, making it much harder for the would-be thieves to unlock the door.  The plate also acts as part of a clutch that will prevent a forced rotation attack on the lock by essentially causing the lock to self destruct if too much force is applied to it.

To remove the plate, pry up on one of the tabs as shown in Photo 30.  Do this with the lock securely clamped in a vise.  Because the plate holds the return spring in place, the spring will cause the lock to fly apart as soon as you release the plate.  As you remove the lock from the vise, hold all of the parts together as in Photo 31, so that you can control the disassembly of the lock long enough to see how the parts were assembled.

As you release the pressure on the back plate, the spring will force the components to separate.  Photo 32 shows the components of the lock as they came out.  When you reassemble the lock, you will first have to replace the return spring, then the nylon bushing, and then seat the lock pawl on top of the bushing.  The retainer plate is then crimped back on to hold the whole thing together.

Photo 33 shows the rear end of the lock with all of the spring-loaded parts removed.  The clutch plate that sits on the underside of the return spring still needs to be removed.  This part just slides out of the lock housing and will only fit back in one way (Photo 34).

Before we can remove the lock plug, we must remove the facecap.  The facecap is reusable and pops off relatively easy with a little careful prying.  The integrated shutter assembly (Photo 35) does not have to be removed unless it has been damaged.

A small tab at the rear of the lock plug is indicated by the red arrow in Photo 36.  This tab prevents the lock plug from being removed unless it has been turned.  If you do not have a key for the lock, you will have to either pick the lock or grind off this tab in order to remove the lock plug.  Photo 37 shows the lock plug removed from the cylinder, and the small tab at the rear of the plug.  There are six tumblers in this lock, and that they are positioned in spaces 3 – 8.

At the same time as you removed the lock plug, the clutch sleeve will probably fall out of the back of the lock shell.  This sleeve will only fit back in properly in one position.  Photo 38 shows the lug that is cast into the lock shell that the clutch sleeve fits over.  Photo 39 shows the clutch sleeve properly re-installed.  Note that the end of the sleeve is flush with the lip around the back or the shell.  If the sleeve extends above this lip, you have it installed incorrectly.  Photo 40 shows the core components of the lock assembly in the correct orientation for reassembly.

Standard GM side-milled tumblers are used.  Each tumbler is stamped with the depth and an “L” or an “R” to indicate the side of the lock plug that the tumbler is used on.  At this point you can rekey the lock or service any of the components of the lock.

After you have teased all of the parts back into position and wound the return spring, complete the reassembly of the lock by squeezing the tab back into place with a pair of pliers as shown in Photo 41.  Be sure that the back plate is snug and that the lock operates smoothly before you re-install it into the vehicle.

Ignition Lock Removal

The ignition lock used on the 2014 Impala is the Strattec 7012913 (Photo 42), also used on the Camaro, Equinox, Buick, Terrain and many others.  What is different is the location of the poke-hole to remove the lock, and the plastic shroud on the steering column.  There is one 8mm screw in the center of the lower portion of the shroud, but it is not necessary to remove this screw.

The top portion of the shroud snaps onto the lower portion and you can separate the two parts with a little cautious prying.  The left side of the shroud will lift up easily, but the right side will only come up a short distance before it is stopped by the stalk on the windshield wiper control.  A leather cover at the rear of the shroud is solidly attached to the dash with what appeared to be a type of rivet.  This cover conceals the back end of the shroud when the steering column is telescoped out from the dash.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not get enough slack in the leather cover to allow me to pull the top cover over the windshield wiper control (Photo 43).

Eventually, I noticed a pair of tabs at the base of the wiper control switch module.  If I depressed the two tabs with a screwdriver, as shown in Photo 44, I could pull the entire wiper switch up and out of the steering column.  Once the switch was released, I could rotate it to disconnect the wiring connection .  At that point, I could pull the entire wiper switch out from under the shroud, which allowed me full access to the top of the ignition lock housing (Photo 45).

Photo 46 shows that top portion of the shroud, and the red arrow indicates the position of the new poke-hole.  With this new poke-hole, , it would be almost impossible to remove the lock without turning it.  Of course, you could always drill a small hole directly over the retainer if you have to remove one of these locks and cannot turn it.

If you have a key for the lock or can pick the lock, you can use a wire tool to depress the retainer once the lock has been turned to the “ON” position (Photo 47).  I used a give-away key ring that has been partially straightened out as a tool to depress the retainer.  By putting pressure on the wire tool away from the lock, the part of the tool inside the housing will push down on the retainer when the lock is turned to the “ON” position and you can pull the lock cylinder out of the housing. To replace the lock, just slide it back into the hole with the lock turned and the retainer will snap into place, assuming that you have not turned the mechanism inside the lock housing while the lock was removed.

Ignition Lock Servicing

Once the ignition cylinder has been removed from the column, it is very easy to disassemble and service.  Photo 48 shows the lock cylinder with the key inserted.  All eight tumblers are visible through the hole in the outer sleeve of the cylinder.  The retainer that held the lock into the column is visible as well.  That retainer does double-duty by holding the outer sleeve in place and holding the lock into the steering column.

By depressing the retainer, you can pull the outer sleeve off of the lock plug if you have a working key for the lock. If you do not have a working key, depress each tumbler in turn through the hole in the side of the sleeve as you remove the sleeve.  Be sure to be ready to stop the retainer from flying away as you pull the sleeve off the plug.  Photo 49 shows the components of the lock after the sleeve has been removed.  Notice that the retainer has a lug on one side so that it will only fit into the socket in the correct orientation.