Servicing a 2008 Saturn Astra

June 1, 2010
GM models such as the 2010 Buick LaCrosse, GMC Terrain plus Chevrolet Equinox and Chevrolet Camaro use similar locks and can be serviced in the same manner.

During the last few years GM has been borrowing from its European and Australian subsidiaries and rebadging those cars for sale in the United States. One of those vehicles is the Saturn Astra which started life as an Opel in Europe. Sidewinder keys are almost the norm in Europe, so it was no surprise when the Saturn Astra was introduced in 2008 with sidewinder locks from Witte, a European lock maker. Saturn Astra uses an 8-cut, Z0001-Z6000 code series.

In 2010 GM added the same lock, key profile and code series to several made-in-U.S.A. models. Most of the same lock servicing instructions shown here for the Saturn Astra can be used for servicing GM models such as the 2010 Buick LaCrosse, GMC Terrain plus Chevrolet Equinox and Chevrolet Camaro.

In a lost key situation, the best lock to disassemble is the door lock. Door locks can be found with or without a clutch. Locks with a clutch will permit forced turning of the lock plug such as with a screwdriver, but the plug automatically disconnects from the tailpiece and the lock remains in the locked position. Door lock cylinders using a clutch contain all eight tumblers. Some original vehicle locks may not use a clutch system. Locks without a clutch will only contain tumblers in spaces 3-8.

To remove the door lock, locate and remove a rubber plug on the edge of the door (photo 1). Use a T15 driver to remove the retainer screw located adjacent to the door handle (photo 2). The lock cylinder can now be removed from the outside of the vehicle (photo 3).

A retainer is located on the side of the cylinder housing (photo 4).

After drilling an access hole near the center of the retainer (photo 5), the retainer can be pried out of the housing (photo 6). The plug assembly can then be slowly slid out of the rear of the housing. Watch for a rubber piece and solid pin which together form the clutch mechanism (photo 7).

Next, a roll pin must be removed from the rear of the plug assembly (photo 8). Photo 9 shows parts removed including the tailpiece housing and parts for the tailpiece disconnect function.

Photo 10 shows the cylinder plug with the eight tumblers in opposing positions. Astra tumblers are marked with the depth of cut. Tumblers in odd spaces 1-3-5-7 (bow to tip) are numbered 11-12-13 or 14. Tumbers in even spaces 2-4-6-8 (bow to tip) are numbered 1-2-3 or 4.

For some reason the keyway is not centered in the plug housing, so each side of the plug requires different tumblers. In the future, Strattec aftermarket tumblers will be marked 1L-4L and 1R-4R to better identify which side the tumblers are to be used on, but present vehicles on the road will contain the old tumbler numbering system.

Photo 11 shows an original, Saturn Astra flip key with remote buttons. The key blade is removable in case of either a cutting mistake or worn and broken key blades. The Strattec part number for five uncut key blades is 5915037. Blades are retained in the remote unit with a small roll pin. Key origination was easily completed using an ITL sidewinder key machine (photo 12).

The final step involved programming the key. A security code is required in order to program new Saturn keys. With proper identification, vehicle owners may be able to obtain the security code and even the key code from their original Saturn dealer. Locksmiths will be able to obtain the security code if they are part of the NASTF program. In this case the Saturn was dealer-owned and the dealer we were working for furnished the security code number.

An MVP programming tool was used for programming. When Saturn was chosen on the screen (photo 13) the MVP displayed “Astra.” After “Astra” was chosen, the next screen requested “switch ignition on” (photo 14). The MVP showed that the Saturn Astra was a GM CAN type. “Special functions” was then chosen on the diagnostics screen (photo 15). The MVP then displayed several options including “Program Keys”. Instructions on the MVP screen requested us to insert a key and to turn on ignition (photo 16). After this step the MVP requested the security code number. In this case the security number was 2596. Access to the vehicle computer was gained and the key was quickly programmed.

As a final step the MVV screen requested us to turn the ignition key off, then turn key on again. This completed the key programming procedure and the MVP screen indicated that the key was programmed successfully.