2015 Chevrolet Colorado: Does Anyone Like Door Lock Plungers?
January 7, 2015
Granddad's Oldsmobile had them. So did mom's station wagon and my first car, a Ford Ranchero. I'm talking about golf tee-shaped door lock plungers. The kind that bruised your arm when you hung it out the window. The kind that thieves (and owners that locked their keys inside) could easily defeat with a bent coat hanger.
The automakers' anti-theft response to this was the banishment of the tee-shaped head in favor of a textured cylindrical surface that fingertips could grip but coat hangers could not. The revised plungers still had to stick up to accommodate grabbing fingers in the lock position, so arm welts remained an occupational hazard for window-down drivers.
Meanwhile, the in-flooding Japanese competition tended to use a roller-action locking mechanism down by the inside door handle that instantly seemed like a better idea.
I don't know why, but the use of plunger-style door locks seems old-timey and quaint in our 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, especially since our test sample has power door locks. To be fair, it's hardly alone in this. There are several others that go the same way. But does anyone really like or depend on them? What am I missing other than a well-developed sense of nostalgia?
Here the manual locking mechanism is a necessity because the Colorado comes in Base and Work Truck configurations that don't come with power locks. In those versions you lock the truck with the plunger before closing the door. And it's easy to reach across and lock the passenger side if you see that it's unlocked.
But the Colorado's plungers are flush in the lock position. Hooray for no arm welts, but how do you unlock a manual-lock Colorado from inside?
You pull the door-opening handle twice, of course. The first one unlocks the door and lifts the plunger, the second one opens it.
It works just the same in our power door lock-equipped Colorado, but there's generally no need. The doors are set to auto-unlock — all four or just the driver's door — when the transmission is shifted into Park. Or we can use the power unlock switch that's nearby. For us the manual mechanism is a back-up system for when the power locks fail.
Having said all of that, I prefer roller or lever-action manual locks located down near the inside release handle. I've never been a huge fan of any iteration of the plunger arrangement, aesthetically or otherwise.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 3,386 miles