VATS/PASS Keys Part 2: Ignition Lock Repair & Replacement

Unless you’re driving a classic or a Formula One car, chances are your vehicle has some sort of anti-theft system. If it’s a GM car made between 1986 and 2003, it may have a VATS or PASS ignition. These acronyms stand for Vehicle Anti-Theft System and Personal Automotive Security System.

When your anti-theft system breaks down, it’s almost always you who is inconvenienced the most.

If your key fails, you’ll have to get a duplicate or replacement key. But what if the problem isn’t with the key?

System Failure

The most common cause of system failure is broken or loose wiring in the steering column that connects the ignition lock to the under-dash wiring harness. Chances are your VATS/PASS system will let you know if it’s ready to fail. If the system detects a fault, you should see a warning light or message on the Driver Information Center (DIC). If it comes on while you’re driving, count yourself lucky…kind of. At least you can get to a repair center before you turn the car off, because chances are once it’s off, you may not be able to start your car again until the system is fixed.

Fixing the Broken or Loose Wiring

Fixing it is a matter of replacing the ignition lock cylinder, which comes with a new set of wires that run through the steering column to the main harness. It’s a job best left to someone experienced with vehicle wiring.

Programming a New Key

The new cylinder comes with a key that will operate the cylinder, but won’t start the car. That’s because it doesn’t have a programmable resistor to match the car’s control module settings, which can’t be changed after its initial use. You could replace the control module, but that’s not necessary and is expensive. The solution is to make a new key with a resistor chip embedded and then program the key to work with your controller. Dealers and locksmiths with the proper equipment can get the code from your old key with a device called an interrogator and program the new one to work. If the key is lost, it gets more complicated, but not hopeless. Part One explains the process.

This may sound complicated, but if it was easy for you it would be easy for thieves, too. Don’t worry though, the pros at Alexius Security Lock & Key, Denver’s Hometown Locksmiths have the necessary equipment and knowledge to solve your VATS/PASS key dilemmas.

Lock problems seem to come at the worst possible times. When you need fast, affordable locksmith services, call Alexius Security at 303.974.0215. Our mobile locksmith service answers every call 24/7 and responds promptly, arriving with all the tools and knowledge to get you going. We work on everything from cars and motorcycles to RVs, boats, aircraft and construction equipment, including those with sophisticated locking and theft-prevention systems, and all of our services come with an upfront, honest price quote before the work is done. Plus, we do it for less than a dealer would charge.

Alexius Security Lock & Key, Denver’s Hometown Locksmiths, has served the Metro Denver area with honest, affordable locksmith services for over 16 years. Our staff is highly-trained, professional and courteous. Our business is bonded and insured and our products and services are guaranteed. That’s why we’ve received a Better Business Bureau Gold Star certification five years in a row and are part of Angie’s List and the Tom Martino Troubleshooter Network.

Just give us a call at 303.617.3717 or use our online contact form for prompt, professional attention to all your security needs.

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