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Old 04-15-2018, 08:31 AM   #1
stholt5233
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1989 Camaro Iroc-Z VATS issue, different than I've seen...

My wife was left the Camaro in a will. The car sat for at least 3 years. The original keys were lost, so we called a locksmith out. We replaced the key cylinder, but he had a issues with reading the VATS with his challenge tool, so he cut us all 15 different resistance keys. This is what I have tried with all the keys so far:

I put a key in and turn it the ON/RUN poistion, security light comes on, turn key OFF, light goes out. Wait 4+ minutes, try next key.

I put a key in and turn it the ON/RUN poistion, security light comes on, turn to START, no crank/start, turn key OFF, light goes out. Wait 4+ minutes, try next key.

The vehicle was running, was well taken care of, only has 33k miles, battery is a week old and I keep a charger on it while trying the keys. I am unfamiliar with the VATS system, but not new to working on cars. Anyone here have any thoughts? The car did have an aftermarket security system, which I believe I have traced back and completely removed and repaired.
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Old 04-15-2018, 11:57 AM   #2
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Re: 1989 Camaro Iroc-Z VATS issue, different than I've seen...

Well, this is known as a PK I system, or PassKey One system......

What happens is, when a key is inserted in the lock cylinder, the inside contacts of the lock cylinder touches the resister contacts of the key, completing a circuit back to the PassKey module.....if the module "sees" the correct resistance, it does two things, it grounds the starter enable relay, and it sends a fuel enable signal to the ECM, to fire the injectors......without this signal, the injectors will not fire and the car won't start if you jump the starter.....

What GM has, is a tool called the interrogator.......what this tool does, is read the key while it is in the ignition, by disconnecting the harness that goes up the steering column to the lock cylinder, and attaching the harnesses to the interrogator.......now it reads the resistance and tells you, which key is in the ignition, by showing a number between 1 and 15.....for example, the interrogator may show 13......that means you have a #13 key.....now if instead of a number, it reads "E", for error, that means you do not have a complete circuit up the steering column, and the car won't start....this is what usually happens when you have this problem.......that wire harness that goes up the column attaches to the lock cylinder, and every time you turn the cylinder, those wires flex and can easily break....when that happens there is no complete circuit and the PassKey module can't read the key.....

So here is what you have to do......one of those 15 keys should work.....take one key at a time, insert it and turn key to "on", not crank.....the SECURITY light should come on, and then go out after 3-5 seconds.....if it stays on, that is the wrong key........remove the key, and try another......

THIS IS IMPORTANT! Not sure if the Locksmith told you this, YOU HAVE TO WAIT 3 MINUTES FOR THE LOCKOUT TIMER TO RESET.....If you try a key before 3 minutes, even if it is the correct key, the vehicles will not start......you must wait a minimum of 3 minutes between trying each key....

If you try a wrong key(has incorrect resistance), the light stays on....... when you turn the key to off and remove it, you must wait 3 minutes before you try another....when you insert a key, and turn to on, and the light goes out after 3-5 seconds, that is the correct key, with the correct resistance.....

The locksmith cut you 15 keys? I think one key costs $35(cut) at the dealership.....how much did he charge you for 15 keys?

You say you had an aftermarket security system on the vehicle? Did the Locksmith know this? Because this system had to have either a key or the correct resistance attached to it.........

Now, let's say, you tried all 15 keys, and the SECURITY LIGHT did not go out....I doubt the wire(s) is broken since a new lock cylinder was installed.....however, since the locksmith was working on the car, it's possible he may have forgotten to reconnect it......you will have to drop the hush panel on the driver's side, and look at the base of the steering column, where all the wires come out.......look for an orange sheathed harness with two white wires coming out of it going to a black connector......that black connector should be attached to another black connector with two white wires coming out of it......it looks like the wires in this picture:



Make sure those black connectors are attached to each other....

And like I said, you must wait 3 minutes(I would wait 4) before trying another key.....

Also, one more possibility......you did remove the aftermarket security system.......are you sure you reattached all the wires correctly and soldered them?
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Old 04-15-2018, 03:31 PM   #3
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Re: 1989 Camaro Iroc-Z VATS issue, different than I've seen...

Tech II is right on it, as usual.

Of course, it will be a good idea to verify the condition of the "hidden" VATs fuse in your car. It should be in the swing-down "Convenience Center" under the left IP:




A possibly easier method for determining the proper key pellet resistance is to connect a potentiometer to the harness at the base of the steering column. In lieu of that, a handful of individual resistors would suffice. The resistance for all the key blanks are as follows:




Measure and set the resistance of the pot (open circuit) to the selected value then connect it. Attempt to start as instructed above. Wait, lather, rinse, repeat.

This will eliminate any potential problems with wiring in the column, the leaf contacts in the cylinder, etc.

It is doubtful that the new lock cylinder has broken wires, even though that is a common problem in old locks. Connections could be a problem, however.

If none of that works, you'll have to dig deeper into the VATS system. An oscilloscope will be helpful then.






You can find a little more on my page: http://www.wwdsltd.com/files/VATSSystem.html
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:49 PM   #4
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Re: 1989 Camaro Iroc-Z VATS issue, different than I've seen...

Tech II...thank you so much!! You want to know the issue? The locksmith, while he seemed to know the system, told me that the security light shouldn't even come one if the key was right. In your reply, you said the light will go off after 3-5 seconds, so I started rechecking every key...and yes, he cut me all 15 keys and was here for almost 4 hours testing and checking. So now I have a key with VATS number 12 that the security light turns off after 3 seconds, and I checked it twice!

I did try to start it, but I think the battery was so low from trying that everything died when I hit it...but it did try to start, which is a lot more than I had, so thanks again! I can hopefully find my way from here, have a charger on it now. I will probably be back with more questions...I am not overly familiar with Camaros...or Chevy in general.

Thanks one more time! Fantastic!
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