The radios in General Motors vehicles have an anti-theft feature called Theftlock, which can render the stereo system useless depending on certain conditions. This feature typically activates when the battery has been disconnected or if the radio has been removed for a service. However, there are times when this system can activate even if the radio hasn’t been stolen. If your Chevy’s radio says “locked,” then you need to perform the GM radio unlock procedure.
Unlocking Your GM Radio
Radios in Chevy vehicles typically display “locked” if they need to be reset. On some radio models, the radio will say “loc” instead. To get the radio working again, you’ll need to enter the radio retrieval code. If you don’t know how to unlock GM radios, here are some tips on how to do so.
Tips on Finding the Radio Retrieval Code
The vehicle’s unlock code is printed on the anti-theft radio card, which is usually located inside the owner’s manual. If your vehicle doesn’t have the radio card, then you can ask for the code from your vehicle’s dealership. Most dealerships will ask for proof of ownership such as the vehicle’s registration before they give you the code.
Alternatively, you can try to get the radio code from GM’s toll-free radio hotline, but you’ll need to get your vehicle’s radio identification number for this.
To find your radio identification number, you need to press and hold preset numbers 1 and 4 until a 3-digit number appears. If your vehicle’s radio doesn’t have 4 preset buttons, press the 2 and 3 preset buttons instead. Take note that you might need to press the buttons for up to 10 seconds before the code appears. This will be the first 3-digits of the 6-digit code. To get the second half of the radio identification number, press the AM/FM button. Write the code clearly because you’ll need it.
The radio hotline is automated, so after dialing it, you’ll need to enter your vehicle’s radio identification number. After dialing the radio identification number, the line will prompt you to enter the dealer access code. The code typically used by licensed GM dealers is 106010. Knowing this code will save you the trouble of going to a dealership to have the radio unlocked.
If this code doesn’t work, simply hang up, re-enter your vehicle’s radio identification number, and try other codes. Certain codes are assigned to certain vehicles, so you might need to try each code from the GM radio unlock codes list:
Prepare a pen and paper because the line will recite the 4-digit radio retrieval code. The automated voice will only say the code once, so make sure you’re ready to write it down quickly and legibly.
How to Unlock Your Radio With the Retrieval Code
Once you have your radio’s reset code, turn on your radio by rotating the ignition switch to the “on” position. Wait for the radio to boot and display the word “code” before entering the unlock code.
If your vehicle’s radio has a tuning knob, you can use it to sift through the digits. You can enter the number by pressing down the knob. Since most radio number codes will have four to six digits, you have to repeat the process until all the numbers are entered. If you’ve entered the code correctly, the radio will go back to normal functionality immediately.
Some radios might require you to hit the hour button before you can start entering the code. Once you’ve pressed it, the first two numbers of the code will appear. The number will increase with each button press. So, if the code is 12, you’ll need to press it 12 times. Once the first two numbers have been entered, press the minute button and enter the last 2 digits of your retrieval code in the same manner. Then, press the AM/FM button to confirm.
If you’ve incorrectly entered the code, some radios will shut down and display “INOP,” which is short for inoperable. If this happens you’ll need to leave the key in the “on” position for an hour before the message goes away. Be careful when entering the code to avoid making a mistake and getting inconvenienced.
If you’ve entered the correct code, the radio should now display “SEC,” indicating that it has been successfully unlocked.
How to Unlock GM Radios With a Chip Removal
Some owners of GM vehicles have also discovered that removing a chip inside the radio can unlock it permanently. However, we don’t recommend you do this if you’re not very knowledgeable or skilled about fixing electronics.
One owner successfully did this by removing a small black chip using nose pliers. Identifying this chip can be a challenge since the numbers are small, which is why we really don’t recommend you do this unless you know what you are doing.
This process will involve removing the radio from its socket and accessing its circuit board using screwdrivers. After removing the chip, reconnect the radio and start it up. It should startup normally and a calibration error warning might pop up. Simply hit the power button and it should function normally.
Congratulations! You can now turn on the radio, select your preferred audio input, and start playing normally again.
Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.