If your car’s Theftlock radio happens to get locked, there’s an easy way to make your radio work again. This article will tell you how to get the radio unlocked in a GM or Chevy car.
What is Theftlock?
To discourage would-be thieves from stealing car radios, General Motors (GM) designed the Theftlock Sound System. In general, GM and Chevrolet cars built in the mid 90’s to early 2000’s are fitted with Theftlock radios.
With Theftlock, the radio automatically gets locked up if ever it loses power due to the removal of the radio itself. A locked radio becomes inoperable, preventing unauthorized use in case it gets stolen.
The problem with this system is that your car radio could get locked up for various reasons other than theft, such as when the battery gets disconnected, the battery loses its charge, or there’s a malfunction. If this happens, you’ll have to deactivate the Theftlock system with an unlock code.
Before You Begin
You don’t need any special tools or technical skills to unlock a Theftlock radio. However, you must remember that you only have about 15 seconds to perform each of the steps described below.
If you’re not able to complete any step within the allotted time, you’ll have to repeat the whole process. Also, make sure that you have a pen and a sheet of paper before you start.
How to Get the Radio Unlocked in a GM or Chevy Car?
The steps involved in unlocking a GM or Chevy car radio are basically the same. These are explained below in three parts.
To make sure that the following steps will work, look for the code “RDS” on your radio. If “RDS” is printed on its face, you won’t be able to unlock that type of radio on your own. You need to call a GM dealership and have them unlock your radio.
Part 1: Finding your radio’s serial number
To get the four-digit unlock code, you must find the serial number of your car’s radio first. This can be obtained straight from your radio.
Step 1: If your radio doesn’t have the “RDS” code, insert the key on the ignition and turn it to “Accessory” or “On” mode.
Step 2: Turn the radio on. You should be able to see “LOC” displayed on the radio’s screen if it’s really locked.
- If you see “INOP” on the screen instead of “LOC,” keep the ignition on for about one hour. After that, the display should’ve changed to “LOC” and you can continue to the next step.
- If no letters are displayed on the screen and your radio doesn't function, the source of the problem maybe somewhere else. In that's the case, you'll need a GM mechanic or radio technician to diagnose and solve the issue.
Step 3: Press the preset buttons 1 and 4 simultaneously and hold for about 10 seconds. A three-digit code will appear on the display of your radio. Write the numbers down quickly.
- For Chevrolet: Press and hold the preset buttons 2 and 3 for about 10 seconds or until a three-digit code appears.
Step 4: Press the AM/FM button. Another three-digit code should pop up on the display. Write the numbers down quickly alongside the first code. Make sure that you write the numbers you retrieved in the correct order. You now have a six-digit code, which is your radio’s serial number.
Part 2: Obtaining the unlock code
Now that you’ve retrieved the serial number of your Theftlock radio, you can get the unlock code by calling any GM dealers or the Chevy Radio Code.
Step 1: Using your phone, dial 1 (800) 537-5140 to connect with the GM radio hotline. This toll-free hotline is automated and you can call 24/7 for assistance.
Step 2: You will be asked to provide the dealer access code. Press “106010” followed by the “#” sign. This is the most common code used by GM dealers. If it doesn’t work, try using any of the following access codes: 139010, 202108, 206053, or 620529.
Step 3: The automated operator will give you the four-digit unlock code. Listen closely since the code will only be repeated once. If you missed one or more numbers, you’ll have to call the hotline again.
- Another way of getting the four-digit unlock code is to call any local dealer (GMC, Chevy) and give them the six-digit code. They should then provide you with the code. Most dealers would usually give you the radio code for free although others charge a small amount.
- If you feel like your dealer is charging you a higher fee, try calling a different dealer or search for websites that offer GMC radio codes. These sites usually charge a fee of around $10.
Part 3: Entering the Unlock Code
These are the final steps you have to do in order to unlock your GM or Chevy car radio:
Step 1: Turn the key to “On” mode and then turn on your car radio. Once again, you should be able to see “LOC” on the display.
Step 2: Repeatedly push the radio’s “HR” button until the number displayed matches the first two digits of the unlock code. For example, if your code is 0710, you would have to press the button seven times.
Step 3: Repeatedly push the radio’s “MN” button until the number displayed matches the last two digits of the unlock code.
Step 4: Once the numbers match, confirm the code by pressing the AM/FM button. If you attempt to unlock your radio was successful, the display on the screen should change to “SEC.”
- Entering the wrong code eight times will lead to the display text changing to “INOP”. Before you can retry unlocking the radio, you’ll have to wait for 60 minutes as explained in Part 1.
- Save the unlock code on your phone or write it in your owner's manual. If your radio gets locked again, you can use the same code.
Fixing your car’s locked radio shouldn’t be a problem if you follow the right steps. Now that you know how to unlock gm radio and how to unlock Chevy radio, you’ll be able to listen to your radio again in no time. Here is how to unlock a car radio code for free.
Simon graduated with a Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Degree. He has over 20 years of servicing experience in both Japanese and German car dealerships. He now acts as a freelance mechanic’s instructor for local schools.