Servicing the 2010 Chevy Camaro

Sept. 3, 2010
These new Strattec high-security 2-track locks are intended to become the standard lock system for future GM vehicles.

I saw the first concept version of the new Camaro (Photo 1) at the Detroit auto show in 2007, and ever since then, I have been looking forward to taking one apart. In early October of 2009, I finally got my chance and spent four days doing everything I could imagine a locksmith having to do to this car.

The 2010 Camaro is the first production car from GM to feature the new high-security 2-track locks from Strattec. These same locks, or slightly different versions of these locks, will be standard equipment on four other 2010 models: the Chevrolet Equinox, the Buick Allure, & Lacrosse, Cadillac SRX and the GMC Terrain. (The Buick Allure is essentially the same car as the Lacrosse, but sold in Canada.) Eventually, this lock system will be phased in across the whole GM line. I’m making a DVD that will cover the service procedures for these new locks.

In the meantime, the most important thing that I can tell you about servicing the locks is that once you have the door lock out, DO NOT pull the outside door handle. I made that mistake, and the handle came off in my hand! It took me two hours to get it back in place correctly.

The door lock comes out easily with a single screw-operated clamp that is similar to those used on various European vehicles, but the lock normally traps the handle in place. With the lock removed, there is nothing to prevent the handle from being pulled free of the door.

The ignition lock comes out easily if you have a key for it, but the poke-hole is difficult to find. The end of the Shrum tool in photo 4 is in the poke hole, which is almost impossible to see because it is located inside a recess in the brace that is located at the top of the lock housing. To remove the lock, just turn it to the “ON” position and depress the retainer with a Shrum tool or something similar. As soon as you depress the retainer, the lock plug will literally jump out half an inch and then it can be pulled the rest of the way out.

In addition to the high-security locks, the Camaro also has indexing glass, very tight weatherstripping and an inside door handle that is mounted well out of the reach of any under-window tool. In other words, unlocking the new Camaro is a challenge.

Because of the construction of the door, trying to use a long-reach tool such as the Jiffy-Jak will almost certainly result in a broken window. Even the inside of the door is so well protected that I had to design a new tool just for this car, the Tech-Train 1037 (Photo 5).

Unlocking The Camaro

Begin by wedging open a gap into the door just forward of the inside lock button. Because of the tight fitting multi-layer weatherstripping, you will have to use a shim like the LKM202 that I’m using in photo 6 to prevent damage. Insert the shim between the glass and the weatherstripping, and then slip the wedge between the shim and the glass. This prevents the lower layers of the weatherstripping from rolling or tearing under your wedge.

The TT1037 tool has a 90-degree bend at the end to hook the inside vertical linkage rod at the one spot where it is exposed. Because of this bend, use care as you insert and remove the tool from the door. Careless use of the tool could easily result in a broken window. The tool is also designed specifically for the passenger side door. Insert the tool into the door just to the rear of the wedge, with the tip of the tool pointing forward. Lower the tool into the door as far as it will go before attempting to rotate the tool. This will put the bend at the end of the tool below the base of the window glass. Attempting to rotate the tool before it is below the glass can easily break the window. (See photo 7)

When the tip of the tool is as deep inside the door as possible, rotate the handle of the tool forward so that you can work the shaft of the tool into the door. There is an index mark on the shaft of the tool, and you will need to lower the tool until the index mark is even with the top of the weatherstripping while the shaft of the tool is held vertical. As you position the tool, keep the end of the tool pointed as far forward as possible. (See photo 8)

When the tool is at the proper depth, slide it toward the rear of the car until the shaft of the tool is even with the inside lock button. At that point, rotate the handle of the tool out so that the tip of the tool is as far to the inside of the door as possible. You may have to adjust the depth of the tool slightly in order to clear the obstructions inside the door. (See photo 9)

If you have positioned the tool properly, you should feel the tool hook behind the vertical linkage rod and see the inside lock button move slightly. At that point, pulling up on the tool will raise the inside lock button and unlock the door. Once the door is open, you will have to work your tool out of the door the same way that you inserted it in order to protect the glass. Always make sure that the tip of the tool is below the glass when you are rotating the tool.

Inside the door, the metal guard extends above the linkage rod that prevents an attack with traditional tools. In addition, notice the bundle of wires that runs just below the access point for the linkage. Because of these twin obstacles, you must position the tool properly, with the index mark even with the top of the weatherstripping as you attempt to hook onto the rod. When the tool is in the correct position, pulling up will lift the linkage rod easily.

Removing & Servicing The Door Lock

Like many new vehicles, there is only one lock on the exterior of the Camaro and it is located in the driver’s side door (Photo 12). To remove the lock, first pop the rubber cap out of the access hole on the edge of the door. Inside, you will see the Torx® bolt that secures the lock. Loosen but do not remove this bolt. As you loosen the bolt, pull out on the face of the lock until it comes free of the door as shown in photo three. Do not loosen the securing screw any more than necessary.

The painted cover on the lock can be easily pried free of the lock housing so that you can service the lock without danger of scratching the cover. The door lock is referred to as a “Free Wheeling” door lock by Strattec because it incorporates a clutch. If too much force is applied to the lock, the clutch will disengage and allow the entire lock cylinder to spin freely without unlocking the door. A portion of the clutch assembly can be seen in photo 13.

The lock cylinder itself is held into the outer housing by way of a solid blade-like retainer that is staked into place.

A poke-hole near the rear of the lock will allow you to drive out the roll-pin that holds the driver (tailpiece) in place at the rear of the lock plug. In order to drive out the roll pin, you will need a 1/16” pin-punch, which is the same size pin-punch that you will need for servicing the key fob as shown later.

After driving out the roll-pin, you will be able to remove the driver and part of the clutch assembly from the back of the plug. The clutch is held in place between the base of the driver and the back of the lock cylinder, but is free to slide back and forth inside the slot in the driver. (See photo 14)

With the two parts separated, you can easily see that the hole in the middle of the clutch is oval, which will allow the tab in the center of the clutch to either fit into, or disengage from, a slot in the lock plug. There is also a curved slot in the underside of the clutch that fits over the tip of the clutch pin or “Freewheel Pin” shown in the photo 16.

The clutch pin fits into a slot in the side of the lock cylinder and rests against the clutch pad or “Buffer,” with the small tip of the clutch pin fitted into the curved slot in the bottom of the clutch. All of these parts work together as shown below to allow the lock cylinder to freewheel if too much force is applied to the lock.

Photo 17 shows the rear end of the lock assembly with the driver and clutch removed. When the clutch is properly installed, the curved slot will fit over the tip of the clutch pin and the tab in the clutch will fit snugly into the slot in the tail-shaft of the lock plug.

If excessive force is used on the lock plug in an attempt to pick the lock or to force it to turn, the clutch pin will be pressed into the rubber clutch pad (buffer) and this will allow the entire cylinder sleeve to freewheel. But, as the clutch pin is pressed into the clutch pad, the tip of the pin will pull the clutch with it and disengage the tab from the slot in the lock plug. Once the clutch has been disengaged, the lock plug and the sleeve can be turned freely, but the clutch and the driver will not move.

Once the lock has been turned back to the proper position, the clutch will automatically re-engage and the lock should work normally again with the correct key. In this same photo you can also see the retainer that secures the lock cylinder into the lock housing.

Rather than try to dig the retainer out of the housing, it is much easier to remove it with an old pair of needle-nose pliers that have had one side ground back about a quarter of an inch. (See photo 18)

To remove the retainer, insert the long end of the pliers inside the lock housing and under the bottom of the retainer. If you have ground the other end back far enough, you should then be able to squeeze the pliers and the retainer will pop up out of the slot. (See photo 19)

After the retainer has been removed, the lock cylinder and the clutch pin will slide out of the housing easily. (Photo 20) Do not drop or lose the clutch pin as you disassemble the lock.

After the cylinder has been removed from the lock, the plug will slide out easily, allowing you to service or rekey as needed. Be careful as you slide the plug out because the individual tumblers do not have any retainers and they can fall out easily. Photo 21 shows a new lock that I assembled for this article, and I intentionally left out the grease so that you could see the components better. In real life, the lock plug and tumblers as well as the outside of the lock cylinder would have been coated with a layer of white grease.

Both the door and ignition locks have all eight tumblers, so the easiest way to generate a key for the Camaro is to remove the door lock and decode it. All of the tumblers are stamped with their depths as shown in photo 22. The tumblers for the right hand side of the keyway are stamped 1 – 4 and the left-hand tumblers each have a one stamped in front of the depth so they read 11 – 14.

Reassembly of the door lock is simply the reverse of the disassembly except for one thing. The driver and clutch assembly can be installed in two different ways and only one of them is correct. To help with the reassembly, Strattec offers an assembly tool (photo 23), the GM Free-Wheeling Door Fixture P/N 7017698. The tool consists of a tube that holds the plug and clutch as you assemble it and a 1/16” pin-punch to drive the roll-pin back into place.

Once the plug has been inserted into the tube, the clutch and driver are installed onto the tail-shaft of the plug. If you attempt to put the driver on in the wrong position, the hole for the roll-pin will not be visible. The opposite end of the tube has a step built into it so that the entire assembly can be easily clamped into a vise while you seat the roll-pin. The lock can be reassembled without this tool, but the tool makes the job a lot easier. After the roll-pin has been seated, all you have to do is slide the lock cylinder into the lock housing along with the clutch pin and then seat the retainer.

Servicing The Ignition Lock

As shown in photo 4, the ignition lock can be removed quickly as long as you have a working key and know where the poke-hole is located. Depressing the retainer will allow you to slide the plug out of the outer sleeve so that you can disassemble the lock. Photo 25 shows the components of a new ignition lock before assembly. The replacement lock service packages include enough wafers to pin the lock up to any combination and a small packet of grease. Because the tumblers come packed with the locks, there are no plans as of yet to provided traditional pinning kits for these new locks.

In the case of a failed ignition lock, you will have very few options. If you cannot get it to turn one more time so that you can remove it, you will probably have to drill it out.

Because these locks are designed to work with a transponder system, there is no hard-plate protecting the face of the lock. Photo 26 shows the assembled ignition lock along with a replacement key blade for the flip-key assembly.

The blades in the flip-keys are designed to break off rather than cause an injury in a collision. This means that they may also break off if the owner does something stupid like attempting to open a can of paint with the key. In that case, you can easily replace the blade by driving out the roll-pin that secures it, and then installing a new blade. Strattec provides an assembly fixture (Strattec P/N 7017699) (photo 27) to make that job easy and to prevent accidental damage to the flip-key housing.

As I mentioned in the beginning, these new locks are intended to become the standard lock system for future GM vehicles. Currently, you will find the same locks, or very similar locks, on the new Buick Lacrosse, Allure, & Regal, GMC Terrain, Chevrolet Equinox & Cruze, but more are on the way for 2011. In addition, the Saturn Astra used a door lock that is almost identical to the one used on the Camaro, but a completely different ignition lock.